Milkshakes or, Why Being an Adult SUCKS

Nobody ever insists I finish my milkshake or I’m in big trouble, mister.

by MATT STOKES | APRIL 2, 2012

Don’t get me wrong, kids: Childhood is absolutely horrible. Don’t believe what they tell you about how it’s the greatest thing in the world. Adulthood is a million times better than childhood. You make money and people don’t lie to you about Santa Claus to shut you the hell up.

Kids have it way worse than adults; we only have to go work… you kids have to go to school. Work > School. Nobody denies this. If you don’t think that’s so, then why do you have nightmares that you’re still in school, but never nightmares about having to go to work? I bet you shuddered just thinking about it, because going to school is the worst thing ever, and so is being a kid.

Innocence, largely, is a very overrated phenomenon. HOWEVER, there is one and only one very clear advantage that life as a child has over life as an adult: Milkshakes.


Take a look at that milkshake. Could it look any more perfect? From the type of glass to the frozen condensation to the protruding straw to the frothy vanilla deliciousness contained within, could anything in this world be a more fully realized version of HEAVEN? (Well, yes, there is one thing: If said milkshake came with that silver glass – nay, chalice – where the leftover milkshake goes, just in case the first helping wasn’t enough for you.)

When’s the last time you had a milkshake, and I mean, had a milkshake, like, for real? To really have a milkshake you must fulfill two crucial components: 1) That milkshake must have been paid for by somebody else, or else it doesn’t count; and 2) The milkshake must be enjoyed by you free of baggage. It’s that second component that’s so hard to come by when you’re an adult. Let me tell you a story to explain.

Yesterday my family went out to eat at a diner in uptown New Orleans. My eight-year-old sister became upset about something, and so the team of adults that surrounds her at all times did what we always do when she gets upset: We demanded, “Just tell us what you want, tell us what would ease your pain and heartache, and it’s yours!” And what did she want? A milkshake. So we ordered a vanilla milkshake for her, that heavenly creation you see at the top of this page.

But then, she did that thing that all little kids do just to rub it in the faces of the jealous adults: She barely touched it. It didn’t interest her. Oh, she took a few cursory sips, sure, splashed around her straw for a few obligatory seconds… but then she abandoned it altogether.

Now, I ask you: WHAT THE FUCK????!?!?!??!?!??!??!?! Is she not human? Who doesn’t want a milkshake, who could be too full to not even put a dent in the thing?

“What’s wrong, do you not like it?” I asked my sister.

“No, I do,” she said, “It’s really good.”


The picture I took looks like it has a good chunk of shake missing but, rest assured, that was not the work of my sister. That was the result of one of the grown-ups who assumed cleanup duty. I’ve been told by many parents, in fact, that this is the best reason to have a kid: They never finish their food and then it’s your duty as a decent American to finish it for them. “Three-and-a-half McNuggets left? Well that is a pity.”

That’s all well and good, but I want to grab this child and shake her, yelling, “For the love of all that is holy, girl, you will get very few more opportunities like this in your life! Seize the day!” But she wouldn’t understand. Nobody gets it until it’s too late. Adults are begging you to finish your food, to take “just two more bites” and then you can go play Xbox till you pass out on the couch, when finishing those last two bites seems like torture.

What happens? Is it that we’re trying to destroy ourselves by making these delicious not-quite-desserts (Because milkshakes aren’t quite stand-alone desserts, and they’re not quite complementary drinks, they’re in that zone just in between that invites too much guilt and scrutiny to completely enjoy. And yeah, it’s not like the milkshake is the worst thing in the world. A Frappuccino from Starbucks is, calorically, far worse, yeah, but at least you’ve got the, ‘Hey, this is coffee! Now get out of my face so I can get back to writing my screenplay!” element to it.) that you only want once nobody else wants you to have. What kind of world is this?

I was floored. I’m still shaken by it. All I could do was stare at my sister and at her untended dessert, thinking, “I could sooner see myself as a sultan in the Arab world, I could see myself in charge of an Emirate, where I’d own a solid gold toilet and have a pet zebroid and sleep on a water bed filled with OIL and have Kanye West sing at my private birthday party before I could see myself being able to enjoy a milkshake at a restaurant. Becoming ruler of Ras al-Khaimah seems likelier to happen to me in the future than me ever getting a milkshake. And this is horrible. We’re all getting hungrier and more tired, and there’s a freaking Wendy’s EVERYWHERE. “Do you want to make that a Large for 39 cents?” HELL YES I DO.

You kids don’t want to finish that slab of cookie cake, and we adults don’t want the self-loathing that comes after stuffing it into our gullets in the bathroom minutes later when nobody can see. One day your mom’s begging you to finish your ice cream and the next she’s recommending you consider a gluten-free diet. Such is the Circle of Life, and it is beautiful.