Another long story starting in the distant past. This past even more distant, actually. I hope the story won't be as long.
This one starts more than five years ago. I was in sixth grade, I think. I decided one day (although in my mind I had been considering the idea for quite some time) to leave the kid with whom I had been best friends since about kindergarten or first grade and to hang out with a different crowd.
The next day, my mother bought me flowers. And I've been functionally grounded ever since.
If I did start acting up now, I don't know what the parental authority figures could do to me. They can't take away my cell phone, or my television privileges, or withhold the car keys, or tighten my curfew, or forbid me from going on social outings, or even send me to my room to make no noise and pretend that I'm not there. The usual teenage punishments are all rendered irrelevant.
Why? Because I'm living that way already. I come home immediately after school, hole myself up in my room, making no noise and pretending I'm not there. I never get invited to social outings, I'm always home by half past three in the afternoon, I have no cell phone, I don't watch television, and I can't drive. I live like somebody who has had all his (that's a grammatical his, not reflecting my gender) privileges taken away already. All because I chose to hang out with the good kids when I was twelve.
Not only do I passively submit to this lifestyle, I have trouble imagining the alternatives. I know so little about them that I don't know whether they're even worth considering. I kind of suspect that they aren't, but that could just be my sheltered ignorance. Or maybe all introverts live the same way I do, but just get none of the publicity the extroverts get.
Kind of ironic, though. Grounded for Life is supposed to be the ultimate punishment, the one you only get if you do something really, really, spectacularly bad. And here I got it for being 'good.' Funny old world, isn't it?