Were you a wild child? No risk too great, no bikini too small? Were you — or are you still — into bad boys? In your teens and early twenties, was it not a real party till a fight broke out? Was the club your weekend home? If so, I was your mousy, killjoy cousin visiting for the weekend with no club clothes, a habit of nervously glancing over her shoulder, and a commitment to either being your designated driver or making up an excuse to avoid an outing altogether.

I’ve always admired my ride-or-die friends, but I know I could never be one. It’s hard for me to seize the day, live in the moment, and throw caution to the wind. I’m too much of a prepare-for-the-worst-case-scenario person — and too determined to avoid all unnecessary interaction with the cops. When I was a younger girl, I’d scoot up to the circle and listen eagerly to a classmate or church friend or family member discuss their weekend adventures, which were always replete with fake IDs, curiously potent red cup concoctions, and, above all, a great deal of risk. But later, alone, when I’d close my eyes and try to envision myself, the person who got more excited about trips to the library than party invitations (on the rare occasions when they were extended), I always drew a blank. Could I pass for 21? Would I want to be in a 21-year-old situation at 16? Is the charismatic guy I’d be flirting with at this hypothetical club a future or ex-felon? He’s really cute. Is he gonna make me an accomplice?! 

See? I was  way too scary to roll with the risk-takers.

This is not to say I was immune to peer pressure. I wasn’t. As a teen, I was terrified of being too assertive, too outright declarative in my “no” responses. I wanted to remain adjacent to popularity, but because I’d seen what it sometimes required — late nights, early mornings, and bold and sketchy choices — I didn’t want the popularity itself. So I’d always meekly squeak, “Maybe next time” or “I don’t think my mother will let me” or “I have an early curfew.” In actuality, I didn’t have a curfew at all, because I rarely went out. My parents didn’t think it was necessary.

The older we get, of course, the less we’re confronted with the kinds of dares, challenges, and confrontations that mark our teen years and post-adolescence. But when I am asked to join in some late-night festivities I know I won’t enjoy — say an after-party that will reconvene at a bar and result in next-morning tales of cuss-outs, kick-outs, and fall-outs — I’m far less conflicted and reticent when I say, “Naw. Y’all on your own tonight, fam.”

It just rolls off the tongue so easily and saves me from so much drama. It can be applied to suitors, friends, co-workers, acquaintances, or  whomever. And if it’s delivered with a coy smile, it almost never offends.

Are you the “queen with a crown that be down for whatever” type or are you more of a “Naw, B. I’m good ….” type? Were you more game for risky behavior when you were younger? 

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