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As my 34th birthday gives me the side eye from less than a month away while I attempt to suspend the aging process using creams, tonics, oils, pills, the gym, crying, pleas, sighs, and anguished screams in the middle of the night…I think back on my youth. It’s so easy to romanticize a time in my life where I was ridiculed for having very little breasts but too much nose. I’d do it again damn it (I mean Dammit). I’d do it again in a heartbeat, a heartbeat that grows fainter with each passing minute because I fear the Reaper.

My inability to wrap my mind around the idea that layers of my epidermis are fleeing my body with no return in sight, revealing hardened aging skin, is why I have always had a special place in my heart (MY BARELY ALIVE HEART) for the eternal child that is Peter Pan. If I could relocate to Neverland I’d take that second star to the right and head straight on ’till morning but I can’t. Instead I’m  heading straight on ’till mourning. WHY GOD? WHY???

To get my Peter Pan fix I’m heading down to The Kennedy Center for Peter and The Starcatcher, the play based on Dave Barry’s popular young adult novel which lays out his version of Peter Pan’s origin story. In other words lead us, show us the way, how do we make the aging buck stop right here? Did you guys see that? I just died a little more…and a little more…and a little more…

I’m sure when Scottish novelist J.M. Barrie created the character of Peter Pan he could not predict how wildly popular Pan would become. A story about an orphan boy who never wants to grow up has reached far and wide in many incarnations. These are some of my favorites, in no particular order…is that another grey hair? Son of a…

Peter Pan (1953 film)

This Walt Disney version begins with Peter chasing his shadow into the home of The Darlings where he encounters Wendy Darling. Instead of kidnapping her and bringing her back to Neverland to be a mother to The Lost Boys he invites Wendy and her brothers on an adventure. He should have played this thing fast and loose like Kieffer Sutherland did in The Lost Boys. Peter should have used more trickery and a wine bottle filled with his own blood to lure Wendy over to the dark side. After declining the Chinese food he offers her Pan could have said to Wendy: You don’t like rice Wendy? Tell me, how could a billion Chinese people be wrong. Then everyone turns into a vampire and The Coreys show up. Classic!

Hook (1991 film)

What would happen if Pan was allowed to grow up? If he fell in love, left Neverland, and became the adult he desperately hoped to avoid? Enter the movie Hook starring Robin Williams as Peter Pan and Dustin Hoffman as Captain Hook. This movie has it all: comedy, tragedy, memory loss, huge early 90’s cell phones, poor parenting, food fights, a bad wig on Julia Roberts, more bad parenting, and of course Robin Williams in green tights screeching like a crow…but not The Crow. When Captain Hook leaves Neverland (How? How does he get out of there? He can’t fly? Did no one in London notice a grown man dressed like a pirate with a hook for a hand? In 1991 we definitely had the medical know-how to get that man a prosthetic hand, but I digress) to steal Pan’s children the proverbial shit hits the fan. Unfortunately Peter doesn’t remember that he’s Peter Pan. You see when you grow up you forget about magic and wonder and you settle into the daily routine of trying not to die every day. It’s a hard road back for Peter but a fruitful one. Oh and you get an added bonus of an amazing treehouse.

Once Upon A Time (Season 3)

This version of Peter Pan is by far the most realistic. Look, Peter Pan was luring children away from their homes to join him in Neverland. You know what they say: Spandex Green Tights Wearing Misery Loves Newly Orphaned Company. He was not a nice guy. He broke into people’s homes and pretty much stole their children. How do you have this conversation with the cops: He was about 5’4″, brown hair, green tights with green shorts and a green shirt…flies. Uh yes he flies. NO I DON’T THINK HE LEFT ANY FINGERPRINTS WE HAVE GOT TO GET SOME EYES IN THE SKY STAT. Once Upon A Time’s Peter Pan is kind of an asshole which is perfect because if you examine any children’s story or fairy tale, especially the original versions of the Grimm Fairy Tales, you understand all of these were rooted in fear. Don’t go off in the woods alone a goddamn witch will eat you. Always take the safest path or a wolf will attack you. And let us not forget how bloody Cinderella really was, the lesson you learn there is something about wearing the proper footwear at all times. So, it’s refreshing to finally get a darker spin on this story. Well done Once Upon A Time.

Peter Pan Bus Company

Sadly this bus will not take you to Neverland but you can stop somewhere along the New Jersey Turnpike en route to NYC. New Jersey is more like a never…land, but close enough. If you’re lucky you’ll have WiFi access so you can continue to Tweet and post things on Facebook which will be your legacy. That’s about as close as we’re going to get to never growing up so make sure you always Tweet something amazing before you get on the bus because you never know, and change up that FB profile picture to something you’d want to see splashed across the local news.

Peter Pan Peanut Butter

Peanut butter is delicious.

Let’s live fast and die young. Okay that’s depressing. Let’s live fast and die jung, together, as one, collectively. And remember…