Thesis passed in. 34 pages in one beautiful document. Last Core class ever DONE. Now to get drunk on lots of free beer and watch every Jason Statham movie I can get my hands on.
"This whole world is wild at heart, and weird on top."
The things you pick up as you go.
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.