20 People Who Accomplished More Than Me Before They Were 20
So this weekend I turned 20. The celebration was excellent, and the weekend was replete with friends, family, Lupe Fiasco, inexplicable football victories, a seemingly insurmountable stockpile of baked goods, and innumerable abuses of new Sherman Ave writers-to-be. But at some point during the frivolities, somewhere in between heinifying the Shakespeare Gardens and shouting Taylor Martinez-related obscenities on the El, I was struck by the realization that I had suddenly graduated from being merely a teenager into the vaunted world of the 20-something. Now, I'd like to think that I fit into the 20-something club quite nicely. I publish self-indulgent blog posts, live in dire fear of missing a party, and am woefully unemployed. I vote Democrat and laugh at the word "clitoromegaly." I buy records on vinyl, wear flannel, and spend an obscene proportion of my income at either BK or EV1, which suits me just fine. I fervently and irrationally believe that Steve Kerr was one of the most important guards in NBA history, and will be a drain on society in general for the next five years or so. Needless to say, I play a good deal of Sporcle and Civilization IV.
Besides being a great excuse to drink Andre and treat my friends as dutiful subjects to the Birthday Boy for a day, turning 20 is also a good milestone to size up the accomplishments and failures of my life. Even if I never played first base for the White Sox or fronted a touring rock n roll band, I'd like to think I've accomplished a fair deal, including roadtripping to LA and founding the most atrocious blog known to the greater Chicagoland area. But no matter what I've done, here are the 20 people who accomplished so much more than I could ever dream of before they were even able to legally drink in Japan.
1. Beyoncé's Unborn Baby That fetus was still only 5 months old when it garnered 8,868 tweets a minute at the MTV Music Video Awards. To be honest, the only time I can ever hope to gain that much recognition in social media is if Ross Packingham mentions me in one of his status updates. The progeny of Ms. Knowles and Mr. Z will almost certainly emerge from the womb with more talent, beauty, and hedge fund investments than five generations of Rees' will be able to amass. If this kid doesn't have a hit single by the time she's 7, Amy Winehouse will turn over in her grave.
2. Jesus Although by the time he was 20 the God the Son incarnated hadn't quite gotten around to teaching the word of God, performing miracles, or founding the Church, he was at least gainfully employed, which is much better than I can say for myself. You can rest assured that the Messiah was a really fucking good carpenter, as evidenced by his prominent position on Wikipedia's "Notable Carpenters" list.
3. Harry Potter Defeat He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named? Check. Graduate school? Check. Bang a butterface ginger? Check. The kid did it all, which is even more impressive considering that he never once succumbed to the distraction of working alongside Emma Watson.
4. Michael Jackson Despite being born in the eternal hellhole of Gary, Indiana, MJ quickly rose to prominence. At the age of eight, a time when I was mostly concerned about training my Bulbasaur and watching The Bachelor when my Mom wasn't home, the kid was opening for stripteases with the Jackson 5. If the vocal talent wasn't enough, he also sported the greatest afro any prepubescent boy ever possessed.
5. Koko the Gorilla It took me nearly two years to master elementary Spanish, but this adorable ape mastered American Sign Language and English in a few short years. She also had a kitten, and apparently assaulted more women than Herman Cain, both of which prove her superiority to me.
6. Morton "Morty" Owen Schapiro The man could grow a full grown beard in first grade in the same time it took me to read a page of Good Night Moon. But for a more complete examination of his exploits in the early years of this man's life, I suggest you reference Chloe Woodhouse's expose on the legend himself.
7. Macaulay Culkin This kid was uglier than what I imagine Steve Buscemi to have looked like as a child, and yet he was still fucking boss. Not only did he single-handedly defeat Joe Pesci in the highest grossing comedy of all time, he also got to live the life of the richest boy in the world as the son of the founder of Rich Industries. The icing on the cake: Mila Kunis.
8. Matilda So smart she could develop telekinetic abilities with the unused part of her brain, she was able to defeat Miss Trunchbull and form a happy, loving family with Miss Honey all before graduating elementary school. Although I don't think I'll ever be able to forgive her for the nightmares I suffered after watching the chokey scene.
9. Willow Smith This video has over 64 million views. The most popular video I ever starred in was of me doing the "Single Ladies" dance in my senior year econ class. Either there's something wrong with America, or I just got my ass handed to me by a 10-year-old. Or both.
10. Bill Gates By the end of sophomore year, the nerd had set a record for the fastest algorithm produced in his Harvard combinatorics class that stood for 30 years. Then he founded Microsoft. By the end of my sophomore year, I intend to have decided upon a concentration and get Sherman Ave to generate enough revenue to pay for beer.
11. Jane Austen The woman had written most of Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice before she turned 20. Not that I really care about the morals, scandals, and marriages of the early 19th Century landed gentry of England, but I'd just about die if Colin Firth ever portrayed one of my characters. Just saying, he'd make a great Sir Edward Twattingworth III.
12. Peter the Great Dude was 10 when he became Tsar. During his reign he transformed Russia from a freezing, backward, and destitute rural society into a 5,000,000-square-mile freezing, backward, and destitute society. All while suffering from epilepsy.
13. Air Bud That golden retriever probably scored more points in one season than I did in my entire rec league basketball career. Second only to Michael Jordan's role in Space Jam for convincing kids that they were better than basketball than they actually were, the only downside of Air Bud was the experience of overwhelming disappointment when you own dog couldn't drain a three-pointer.
14. Lindsay Lohan Herbie: Fully Loaded aside, The Parent Trap, Freaky Friday, and Mean Girls are some of the greatest acting performances I've seen in my lifetime. I'm pretty sure most guys my age have harbored a life-long crush on her ever since she valiantly challenged herself to a fencing match.
15. Michelangelo Probably one of the best artists in Florence by the age of 14. No big deal.
16. Eliàn Gonzàlez Not only did Gonzàlez cross from Cuba into American waters in an aluminum boat with a faulty motor, he also survived a sea storm while floating on nothing more than an inner tube. He also accomplished more in politics than any MTV Rock the Vote campaign ever has, quite possibly costing Al Gore the 2000 presidential election.
17. Madeline The girl got her appendix removed and acted like it was no big deal. She also survived a fall off a bridge into the Seine River and ran away to join a group of traveling gypsies before she learned long division. That's all there is; there isn't any more.
18. Beethoven Sure, as a child his father made young Ludwig stand at they keyboard until he cried. But it all worked out, right? He was seven at the time of his first public performance, and was publishing original compositions before most kids his age had mastered the art of five-paragraph essays.
19 and 20 (tie). Eng Seng Ng and Cheng Yen Ng Eng Seng Ng is a 19-year-old grad student at Stanford. Most people that age are busy playing National Treasure drinking games and sleeping through 11:00 am discussion sections, not completing their master's in mechanical engineering at the top school in the country. Ng's sister Chenny is just as amazing. The renowned master of the Hoedown Throwdown, Chenny is also an internationally-acclaimed practitioner of all things heinous, not to mention the most adorable member of Sherman Ave.
Honorable Mentions: Adele, Kain Colter, Sasha Obama, George Harrison, LeBron James, Achilles, and Charlie Young.