The clunking gear shift from boy to man produces years of confusion with flickering glimmers of clarity; here are five of them:
Y-fronts to boxers
A revelation in the under carriage! Like Punk sweeping away Prog, the day your legs slip through the cotton of your first pair of boxers Y-fronts become relics of a forgotten youth. This is none more evident than in the boys changing room. As shaky hands grip wobbly knees ready to pull down to a new dawn, a sudden rush of manhood consumes you; you're a man and now everyone else knows it! Sure, they're oversized and your mother will continue to buy them for approximately four more years but Chris Jennings from Year 9 still wears Y-fronts so screw you Jenno and your pre-pubescent pantaloons!
Aftershave behind the ear
The symbolic passing of the aftershave baton happened to me at the cusp of 16 before a night of underage drinking- my older brother, Shaun, felt it was time. Tommy Boy had previously been applied with the 'spray-in-the-air-and-walk-around-for-a-bit-technique' I'd nicked off my sister. The new process, now a ritual, is the missing part of the puzzle and ever since its discovery, be it in a bar, club or chicken shop, when a girl comes in close to talk, it's confidence not sweat emanating amongst the nostrils of the fairer sex.
It's pretty simple.
Phoning a girl at home
Hiding in the downstairs cupboard to make the call, your siblings clawing at the door screaming about your unfortunate bed wetting period, you finally pluck up the courage to dial her number. Your core temperature eclipses the more humid parts of Saturn and all you can hope is that she answers.
“705 2244 - hello who's calling?” It’s her dad. Your voice pitches, reaching uncharted octaves as you squeak out “is Helen in please Mr Fielding.. Sir?” and his gruff unreasonable reply informs you that she is out playing with the lads down the lane (teenage code for fingering, you surmise).
You put down the phone and pick up your acoustic guitar - nothing happens.
The slow dance at the disco
Eventually it happens to you, you're dancing on your own with a girl: left foot, right foot, circling like a boat with only one paddle. Your loins have been stirred (the proximity of a foreign body is causing havoc in your nether regions) so you instinctively and awkwardly arch out your back. As you disengage, her head finally escaping your shoulder, the glance you receive as she walks over to her friends turns the blood (left in your heart) cold - lunchtimes are going to be tough.
The condom in the wallet
This milestone happens sometime after you become aware of their existence; you've already used them as remarkably effective water balloons, kicked around strays from the curb and may have even put one on a cucumber in Sex Education. However, one thing you were highly unlikely to have done by this point was wear one. When it first arrives in your wallet there’ll still be a few over-the-top-of-bra fumbling sessions before successful deployment, but the intention and possibility is there.