I don't miss much about being a teenager - don't miss the insecurity, the feelings of isolation, the all-consuming lusts for revolting fellow teens I'd never spoken to, not even the comfy grunge uniform that required no breathing in or tottering about or matching accessories. But what I do miss is the certainty. The certainty that my views are the correct ones and that anyone who thinks differently is both a moron and beneath me. Don't like the same bands as me? Piss off, saddo. Think that TV show is cack? Keep walking. Read that author? Don't even bother. Basically, if you wanted to be in my gang you were going to have to tow the gang line.
Sadly, that kind of certainty didn't last long. I found myself hanging out with some dull humourless people just because they looked the part, and ignoring kindred spirits because they shopped at River Island and owned a Take That album. So I compromised: made friends with people without asking them to fill out a questionnaire first; listened to alternative viewpoints without blanching; discovered the joys of Back For Good.
But it's all gone too far now and I find myself constantly thwarted in my attempts to make broad generalisations or foster impotent rages. Every time I try to make a rule, for example: I despise all people who like Two Pints of Lager... , I go and meet someone I like who sincerely finds it funny. Granted, in that particular case I did strongly consider terminating the friendship, but since we were business partners it wasn't really practical. All 4X4 drivers who don't live off road are the spawn of the devil - except my sister. Anyone who doesn't like The Smiths should be shunned and pitied - except my good (misguided) friend. And it gets even worse than that, I know and like people who do the following: stand as a Tory parish counsellor; go foxhunting and shoot things; snort coke; vote UKIP and attempt to say outrageous things until I hastily change the subject (in my defence he's my neighbour and we all own the freehold, and he's really kind and helpful, and about 20 other excuses); shop at the Gap, Nike and Primark (and now I'm guilty of at least one of those as well - the self loathing just keeps getting fruitier); and enjoy saturday night television on ITV.
Now a lot of the time I don't even care when someone lets slip their terrible passion for shit music and shit television. But I suppose if I'm honest, I kind of like it this way. Sure, I love to have my little snobberies and discriminations, but you can be sure that as soon as I get one certainty on the go, someone comes along and foils my prejudice. And when I meet new people now who utter violent objections to particular foibles or disregard entire types simply for liking the wrong thing, I feel a bit taken aback and a little exasperated. The only trouble is, sneering condescension is a look that really suits me - I'm very good at disdain and sarcasm - but I just can't seem to get a good bit of acerbic wit on the go without some bastard blunting my sharp tongue.