I’m having a sneaking suspicion the S.O has been looking at flights to take me for a trip for my birthday. To Europe. What the FUCK am I supposed to do for HIS birthday, then?!
"This whole world is wild at heart, and weird on top."
The things you pick up as you go.
How did this happen.
I also think my boobs got bigger as a special request birthday present. Not from me.
Also…I require a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream cake now, please. Thank you.
Let me tell you a fun little story:
About 2 weeks ago (I think) I went on a date.
…That is not the funny story. Let me continue before you laugh.
So, I went on this date to one of my favorite bars in the area that happens to have a bunch of classic arcade games like Big Buck Safari and Lord of the Rings pinball and pool, so it’s basically like a sick Chuck E. Cheese’s for adults that you can get sloppy drunk at while waving an orange plastic rifle around. AND IT’S OK. That’s pretty much why I like this place. That, the fact it’s a great place to take a date to because it’s impossible to not have fun there, and if worse comes to worse and your date sucks, it’s still possible to appear as if you’re getting along for the socially acceptable amount of time for a first or second date while drowning each other out with the sound of computer-generated shotgun blasts, and the fact they have pulled pork egg-rolls, which is the work of a diabolical culinary genius.
The date was going well. He was intelligent, funny, attractive, athletic, and kind. He also told me to get whatever I wanted on the menu. Over his French Dip and my spinach and artichoke dip, we were doing the “Astrology: Real or Bullshit?” thing when it came out that he was 12 days younger than I am.
Now, I’m not ageist, but I’m a little ageist when it comes to my dating. I generally have a thing for older men. (Let’s face it: I was previously dating a 31 year old.) I like the way that my youth and hopes and dreams make them treat me like an adorable, quirky, Holly Golightly-esque character. I like the fact they don’t tend to expect much from me. But when it comes to my peers and people my own age, it’s like a pissing contest. It’s all, “We both graduated with bachelor’s degrees the same year; what are you doing with your life and $120,000 worth of college debt repayment?” I like to fling the whole “small business-owning consultant” thing around because it generally shuts people up who don’t understand that this is my way of saying, “I wake up at 11 and crack open a beer and troll Twitter and Google Analytics for awhile before watching an episode or two of “Girls” while waiting for an email from one of my clients asking me to take money from them appears in my inbox.”
What is this young whippersnapper doing? Oh, he has a real salaried, high-power job IN HIS FIELD with full benefits, a new car, and an apartment all his own with black marble floors in the kitchen and bathroom that I can see my reflection in when I lean over to blow on it from the toilet seat. AND he still manages to go partying in clubs down in Boston while he visits friends and racks up insane bills and hilarious “I was so out of it when…” stories at tailgating parties. Let’s put it another way I think we can all understand: He handed our waitress his credit card before I could even think of offering to split the check. This means that HIS CREDIT IS GOOD ENOUGH TO HAVE A CREDIT CARD. Do you know what happened to the credit card I infamously owned from 2010-2011? It was revoked from me and I ended up having to fork over the savings bond my mother had secretly put away for my future wedding when I was born to pay off my debt. I HAVE NO CREDIT. No good credit, anyway. As someone who has recently started thinking about the fact her trusty Honda Civic Mistah J may not live on forever if his oil changes keep being stretched 3,000 miles over, this has become dating GOLD in my world. Fuck a 9 inch dick. If a dude has a credit score over 650, I will consider blowing him, then marrying him.
Meanwhile, I may or MAY NOT have finally asked this guy on a date after months of online banter because I needed a night during which I did not have to see my parents/roommates and enjoy a meal I don’t have to pay for. That goes doubly for drinks.
I wake up the next morning, and the first thing I see is a closet full of perfectly ironed and hung slacks and a whole Crayola crayon box-worth of different colored and patterned button-down shirts. Loafers and other leather shoes lined the bottom of the closet. I promptly freeze, realize my “business casual” outfits consist of trying not to wear skirts so short they reveal the color and cut of my underwear and possibly wearing a blouse with a slightly modest neckline, and panic.
Toto, we ain’t in college anymore.
Fast-forward a week, and I’m tucking the fold-over waistband of what my friend Emma calls my “Those are not yoga shorts; stop calling them yoga shorts. They are Victoria’s Secret hot-pants. Those are ‘come fuck me’ shorts,” shorts while checking myself out in the bathroom of that same guy from last week when he walks in behind me to do one last check before he heads out to work at 8 AM. It’s khakis, dress shoes, linen-shirt-with-a-popped-collar central. I am not wearing socks in my little Sperry sneakers. I literally feel myself getting wet at the amount of responsibility and “Do The Right Thing”ness he exudes while at the same time looking like something GQ would find on the sidewalk. I look like something your college dorm mother would find on the sidewalk on a Sunday morning after having been locked out after curfew, complete with sex-hair and look of shame/post-orgasm glow.
Mr. “I Now Have Office Cubicle Fantasies” goes off to work. I go to a dental appointment and wonder if hygienists can identify sperm from plaque during a teeth cleaning.
Now, even the bros in “Workaholics” have a 9-to-5 job that they somehow manage to maintain. This girl? This girl? No. I am burning my ass so badly my rear end resembles a candy-cane stick or barber pole while drinking beers and eating the infuckingcredible Lays’ Dill Pickle chips that they finally brought back on a random Thursday afternoon (it was like, 12:30,) with a college friend who ALSO had nothing better to do than tan and drink on a dock with a bunch of high school kids while we bemoaned the fact we’re too old to have any idea what they’re talking about anymore.
I am REALLY going to show my age here and say that Blink 182 had it right— nobody likes you when you’re 23. Especially yourself. It’s a hard time, kids. Stay on that Van Wilder 7 Year college plan. Milk it, babies.
Sixteen was sweet. When you were 18, you bought your first pack of legal cigarettes without having to harass your best friend’s older brother to do it and a porn DVD you never ended up watching because…ewww. You don’t remember your 21st, because that’s the point. But after your 21st birthday, your birthdays can seem kind of like a drag. “Quel est la pointe?” you find yourself asking, or, you would if you were French.
Birthdays after 21 and before 40 kind of get lost in a blur of feeling like they should be just as special as the benchmarks while never really achieving anything. For this reason, I have a couple of birthday pointers for you to make them ever so much better, and to keep you from lying about your age this early in the game:
- When I was little, I was always MORTALLY embarrassed by the fact it was my birthday. I didn’t like people singing to me in public, and being in the spotlight made me uncomfortable to the point that other children’s parents always ended up thinking someone ELSE was the birthday girl at my parties. However, now, as a young woman in her twenties, I have realized there is nothing better than being on display on your birthday and making sure EVERYONE knows what today is. Free shots, discounts in stores, general compliments from strangers— these are all nice things. So own it. Walk into a place, and when it’s not an obnoxious time to do so, make sure you announce “It’s my birthday!” to the bartender, waitress, hairdresser, sales associate, or your coworkers. A birthday brightens everyone’s day, mostly because it’s very hard for an up-beat, fun, lively attitude to NOT be infectious.
- Some sort of birthday cake is ALWAYS needed. Maybe it’s a birthday cupcake or brownie. Maybe it’s birthday ice cream. Whatever it is, no one is ever so lucky they can pass up the chance to blow out some birthday candles and make a wish. Hell, I stowed away a couple candles and pressed them into a chocolaty granola bar to blow out on top of a mountain after a hike. Talk about a great moment for a wish.
- Have friends take pictures. Even if you’re slaughtered (and you should be, if your friends are doing their job right,) and they will hopefully never in a million and six years see the light of day on Facebook or your Flickr account, it’s always great to have some photographic evidence that your friends love you and y’all have a really good time together. Even if there’s just two of you together for your day, put your Big Girl pants on, tap a friendly-looking stranger on the shoulder, and say, “Would you mind taking a photo of me and my friend? It’s my birthday!”
- Here’s a list of some free and discounted food, product, and entertainment options for people on their birthday. It’s also always a good move to inquire at your local restaurants, boutiques, movie theaters, outdoor entertainment establishments, bars, or activity centers if there’s a birthday special or discount with proof (AKA: Your license). Make a list of the ones you can score in your area, and take a few friends with you for a kind of birthday freebie scavenger hunt!
- Your birthday is about YOU, getting older, realizing you’re half-way to some previously absurd-sounding middle-aged year. Because of this, it’s a great day (or weekend, or, if you REALLY want to try to milk it, week,) to do some of the things you really LOVE doing or have been dying to try. For example, for my 23rd— which is an awkward birthday because it’s not huge like your 21st and you only have two more years to get away with immature college behavior and heavy drinking before the need to grow up REALLY gets intense, for all intents and purposes can be best summed up by the specialty balloons one of my friends was given for her 23rd that said “Happy 23rd birthday, cunt. Halfway to 46.”— consisted of a morning hike up my favorite local trail to a spectacular look-out point; a trip to a local brewery for a tour, pub lunch, and great craft beer; the first swim of the season in a friend’s pond; and rounded out nicely with an impromptu off-roading adventure, which I hadn’t been on in FOREVER. It was custom-suited to fit my likes and desires— hiking and being outdoors, good beer and food, something active, fun, and a little unpredictable— and was probably my new favorite birthday ever.
Everybody tends to have a mental list of the things they want to do or try: Check out that new farm-to-table restaurant in town, go kayaking on the next nice day, get that tattoo you’ve been thinking about forever, get a new pair of shoes, etc., etc. A birthday is a FANTASTIC excuse to load your day or afternoon with these endeavors. Why not eat lunch at that new restaurant, get sufficient liquid courage in you, FINALLY get that little tattoo, and buy a pair of shoes to celebrate/for retail therapy? You really CAN make an awesome day for yourself just by stringing together a few things on your To Do wish-list. It’s as easy as that to have a birthday you’ll WANT to remember, fondly. Some things I recommend: Touring a brewery and eating/drinking there. Engaging in seasonal adrenaline sports. Eating out at a favorite restaurant. Checking out a new play/art exhibit/dance hall (remember, your birthday if about having fun and being goofy. There is no reason a museum has to be stuffy as long as YOU’RE not acting stuffy. Pose with shit). Scoring tickets to a concert or sports game. Taking a class— pole dancing? Samba? Beat-boxing?— that you’ve always wanted to and laughing your way through it.
Caveat: If you want to do any intense drinking, head out around 10 PM the night before. At midnight, when it becomes your birthday, it is socially acceptable for you and all your friends to scream, “IT’S MY/HIS/HER BIRTHDAY, BITCHES!” (Please don’t be too intoxicated already to not do free birthday shots.) Sleeping in to avoid a hangover on your birthday is a totally fine use of your “special” time.
- Birthday sex is over-rated. If you need one day of the year to indulge your fantasies, kinks, or get non-reciprocal oral sex, you probably either aren’t as comfortable with your partner as your should be, or you aren’t having enough sex in the first place. Really, asking someone to tie you up next Tuesday will be JUST as exciting, and without that sense of foreboding and obligation that the non-birthday-having participant always gets.
- And last but not least, when it’s NOT your birthday: Facebook has made it ridiculously easy to “remember” your friends’ and even casual acquaintances from that one European Lit class you took junior year of college’s birthdays, but don’t let it make you a slacker when it comes to spreading birthday love. Here’s the difference between human emotion— a guy I went on a few dates with writing a generic “Happy Birthday Carissa” on my Facebook wall, and TGIS, one of my exes (not even one I would ever consider going back to, have no lingering feelings for, and get that slightly metallic “I’m going to possibly vomit” taste in the back of my mouth when I think of ever seeing naked again) being the first person to text me a “Happy birthday (with his old pet-name for me)” ten minutes before it even became midnight on my birthday. HOW he ever remembered to do that, I don’t know. I just know it was super-impressive, and made me feel more warm and fuzzy toward him than I have in the year and a half since he ghosted on me after six months together. THAT is the power of a well-timed text versus another of the dozens of generic “happy birthday!” Facebook wall posts you’ll receive.
If, for some reason— lacking a number, not close enough to text— you CAN’T text or call someone on their birthday, for the love of God, put some effort into that wall post. “Happy Exodus-from-Uterus day!” is one that always goes over well with your guy friends. “Bitch, you’re getting old; let me buy you some wrinkle cream,” is best saved for your close girl friends or ex-roommates from college who you haven’t seen in awhile. When in doubt, a “Happy birthday; I miss doing ______ with you and I hope your day is just as wonderful/special/fabulous/amazing/awesome as you are!” is always appropriate, and just the right amount of different and personal to make it be taken sincerely.
Something about turning 24 just SHOOK me. Normally, I’m the sort of person who considers their birthday the perfect opportunity to take a day off from real life and just cram all of my favorite things into 24-ish hours together because, fuck it, it’s all about ME. This year I tried, in fact, to not call attention to myself, what day it was, and most importantly, what age I was turning. Twenty-four. 24. That’s one year short of a quarter of a century. In another three-hundred-and-some-odd days, my hypothetical perfect 100-year life-expectancy will be a quarter over. What do I have to show for it? What have I accomplished? What HAVEN’T I done that I should have by now? Later, some friends took me out and got me so obliterated that the next morning I had to roll over and ask, “Did we have sex last night?”
…That was the first time I have ever NOT remembered having sex. It’s uncharacteristic of me to not want to remember every nitty-gritty, dirty detail of my sex-life. So maybe the fact that I had to run so far away from reality as to NOT REMEMBER GETTING FUCKED is a really good bench-marker for how I feel about my birthday this year, and some of the latent issues beneath it.
I’m currently dating a guy two years younger than me, and I have to say, it’s been a learning curve. For the past two years of my life, I’ve only dated men over the age of 28, purposefully and exclusively. They have big-boy careers; cars; their own houses; healthy bank accounts; good lines of credit; usually a dog; a well-traveled history. This sweet child of mine has none of the above. The night we met, I drunkenly (and honestly,) kept telling him, “You’re a baby. A baby! A BABY.”
And I…I didn’t like it.
…It did not, however, stop me from going home with him. And somewhere between that first thought at the bar (“You’re cute,”) to all the work and effort and game he expended talking me into going home with him (and people…I made him WORK,) and the awkward moment when I found myself straddling him on his bed trailing a “Soooooo…” off into thin air, unsure of what, exactly, I planned on doing next, he finished it with a spontaneous “…buttons onto shirts, because you can’t glue them,” and the writer inside me crashed to the ground in a million “ugh, why didn’t I think of that/why am I not that talented,” pieces, and I decided I was all in, for better or for worse.
For the first time in my adult history, I was the more established of the two in a relationship. I brought home more in salary, so I was usually the one who paid for joint expenses. I owned the car, so I drove it. I moved out of my parent’s house and half-way across the country into my own apartment in a big city paying big-city rent, but could still make plans and buy the tickets to come home and see him, on my own accord. I could peer into a window, for the first time in my life, and see the appeal to the older men who I had dated in dating a younger person: There’s always the chance to help mold and shape a young life. There’s music and movies and places and things and tastes you can introduce them to. You can see the look on their face when they’re experiencing something for the first time, and it’s this remarkable treasure, the power to open people up to something that they didn’t know existed, or didn’t know that they liked.
But it is, by no means, a one-way street. And that’s where the life lesson comes in. Because, my friends, a baby isn’t always the one who’s ACTING like a big baby, and I find myself getting taught a lot more than what I’m teaching.
One night, I called my oldest friend up to get her thoughts after I had introduced the two of them and was whining about all the things I’d grown accustomed to in my relationships that I suddenly didn’t have—the house, the fat bank account, the kept-woman lifestyle. These were all things that while I’d never taken them for granted, or purposefully exploited them, had gotten comfortable with and had kind of grown to expect. And in her usual no-nonsense fashion, she cut me off and stopped me. “Look, first of all, you have to cut it with the ‘baby’ shit. He’s not a baby. And while he may not own a house or have a lucrative career or whatever, from past experience, it seems like a lot of the guys that you’ve dated who HAVE had all those things haven’t been that great, personality-wise. Life situations can always change, but the one thing that you can’t change is personality and character. And I think you two work well together and you make each other happy.”
Boom. Right in the gut. Now you know why Caiti is still my homegirl after 20 years. (TWENTY YEARS, CAITI. WHEN DID THAT HAPPEN?!) (Also, tallying that was painful and made me want to deny the fact that I am capable of having been friends with someone for two decades.) It made me think about where I was at 22 and what I was (not) doing. I was unemployed. Living at home again after breaking up with the first love-of-my-life and moving out of his condo. Being antisocial and a general boil on the ass of society. I had lived in Italy for 5 months, and I had done a lot of cool things in college, had some noteworthy accomplishments, and gotten some acclaim, but after graduation pretty much regressed into a time of blithering indecision and stoned panic. In short, the guy I’m seeing had it ALLLLLLL over me at 22 with his long-term job and apartment and social life. And in just two short years, I’ve come so far. Literally. Who knows what he will do in that time? So, really, who the fuck am I to judge anyone’s potential?
And Caiti was right about another thing—he made me happy. Ridiculously, stupidly, unreasonably happy. Maybe BECAUSE of the fact that I didn’t feel the need to pretend that I was perfectly put-together 24/7 to fit into someone else’s highly-functioning and high-powered life, or because I didn’t feel the need to constantly be impressing him with my worldliness and relative success and bright ideas, I was able to be 110% myself around someone. And find out that that was ok. And that I could still be lovable and loved for maybe not putting as much time into my business as I should be, or for working a day-job that I hated, or for not being willing to wear any t-shirt that still had the neck, or for being overly proud of my new (used) car that I found and bought all on my own, or for not being able to make any of the obvious pool shots but always sinking the long-shot, or for being a slightly-effervescent drunk, or for a million and one of the other things that make me who I am that all of the straight-laced, business-savvy, type-A personality guys I dated either never saw in me or didn’t care to see. The last guy I had dated before him told me point-blank one afternoon, “It’s annoying when you finish my sentences for me…and I can only take you in small doses.” And this relative child, exactly 10 years younger, could, would, and did spend every hour of every day with me, and told me when I worried out-loud about boring him, “It’s a good thing that you’re sometimes boring. Because EVERYONE is boring sometimes. But I still want to be around you, even when you’re boring.” Or annoying. Or tedious. Or bitchy or sarcastic or pessimistic or over-bearing or one of my other general attitude settings that he, calm and grounded, just weathers through and enjoys for the moment.
This, apparently, is how it’s ACTUALLY supposed to be in a relationship. You’re supposed to be able to be yourself without fear that whatever stupid little secret habits you have or beliefs you think or things you say will scare the other person away. And it took someone I would have normally never been with to teach me this lesson—that age is relative. That because you are growing older, Carissa, it doesn’t mean that you’re growing wiser, and that where you are right now can be very far from where you’ve been, and where you’re going, so, you might as well surround yourself by people who love you for who you really are, and enjoy the goddamn ride while you’ve got it.
Leave Note / Reblog
Life Twenty-Something Relationships Age Differences Dating Dating Makes Me Want To Die Life Lessons Friends Caiti Birthday Morals Growing Up Maturity Thank You Be Yourself Do You Journeys Unconditional Love