Most college students in the U.S. are about 25 years old. Ironically, that is the age in which scientists generally agree that the human brain is fully developed.
Note: Some say that the female brain develops earlier than the male brain, say, oh, around 22. I’m not a woman — or a scientist — but 22 sounds about right. Girls do seem to mature faster than boys.
Anyway, back to the average age of college students. The age of 25 seems to be about when your brain should at the very least be hinting that certain behaviors are bad ideas. Perhaps this is a science requiring further research.
Case in point would be a recent news report that college students in Alabama are throwing “COVID parties.”
The planning for these parties is every bit as simple as the minds behind it. Otherwise healthy students have a party where they invite people infected with COVID-19, then gamble on who among the healthy gets sick first.
To participate, the students are required to wager a certain amount of money. The first player diagnosed with the coronavirus, gets the pot. If the “winner” dies, maybe the cash goes toward burial expenses.
I’ve participated in any number of idiocies in my life but have never been drunk, high, confused, or stupid enough to deliberately court a disease.
This is not to say that I haven’t engaged in behavior every bit as ridiculous. When I was 19, I won $11.80 in a “hood surfing” contest in which I managed to stay upright on the hood of an old Chevrolet traveling 39 mph. There were witnesses.
That might not sound like a lot of money, but, adjusted for inflation, we’re talking nearly $75 today. Yeah.
Here’s the thing: I wasn’t even in college when that happened. I was still a teenager — and a badly injured teenager when I later tried to break my own record. But I have the excuse of not yet having a fully developed brain or even a partial college education.
Old people — like me — tend to shy away from this kind of behavior. First, because the odds are decidedly against us. Second, it takes longer to heal (if, in fact, we do), and finally because it just doesn’t seem like fun anymore.
Barring dementia, bad reaction to drugs, or a simple wish to have it all be over, we got that crap out of our systems a long time ago. And we have the marks to prove it.
We held down jobs we hated, had more children than we needed, and hoped for the best from hopeless governments. We’ve earned the right to shake our heads in disgust at the behavior of young people.
Hood surfing, COVID parties, cliff jumping, train dodging, drug experimentation, high-explosive art, or bouncer baiting are not the behaviors of people to whom the rest of us should feel comfortable entrusting with the future of America.
And yet we do. Hell, our parents did. What choice did they have?
Robert Kirby is The Salt Lake Tribune’s humor columnist. Follow Kirby on Facebook.