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The 21 Club

Published: February 3, 2006
Section: Opinions


I was born in August. Although I should appreciate my summertime birthday for the warm and commitment-less days it has afforded me to celebrate, it has always been kind of a drag. Having a so-called off-season birthday has been a let down for a number of reasons.

During my elementary school years, I never got the chance to bring in cupcakes and have the class sing to me. Sure, it seems silly now, but when youre seven, Munchkins at snack time is a big thrill.

As I got a little older, all my friends were becoming full-fledged, true to life teenagers, while I was still an insignificant twelve year old. I was dying to have that teen at the end of my age. By August, the novelty had already worn off and everyone was too busy at sleep over camp to care anyway.

There was the year of sixteen, when jealousy reached new heights as, one by one my friends got their permits and licenses. Theres nothing worse than when it seems like everyone else is driving to school and youre still riding the bus.

Then of course, there was eighteen. Although the prospect of buying neither porn nor cigarettes excited me, at eighteen you are officially legal. I suppose that doesnt mean all that much, but at the time, the word legal seemed equivalent to sacred.
Like many other post-June birthday-ers out there, I have developed a great deal of patience in these matters. The last two years havent been too bad;

nineteen and twenty are kind of birthday duds. But now I have arrived at the middle of junior year, and the importance of the birthday has resurfaced, stronger and more coveted than ever.

Yes, weve all heard about it, talked about it, dreamt about it. Ever since weve entered college, twenty-one seems to be the primary goal. Everyones doing it.
Ive worried that this time the waiting might be harder than ever. For the past year, my friends have been slowly joining the ranks. Now, the pace is quickening. Every few weeks now, someone is hitting the birthday lotto. Fake IDs are being tossed, sold, and given away to younger, more unfortunate friends. All of the formerly off-limits places are becoming new options. Who knew you could actually go to a bar, sit down, and whip out your real license? Sounds too good to be true, but Ive heard it works.

And still, I wait. Many times friends of mine have said to me, Hey, Sarah, a bunch of people are going to… oh, wait. Yeah, sorry. Never mind. Thats right, never mind. Ive gotten used to being the party-pooper, the one who ruins the plans to go to a bar or to get free tacos at Iguana Cantina on Thursday nights.

However, like my birthdays of the past, I know that the milestone will be realized eventually. But I am a pro at this. I didnt get the Munchkins, I wasnt the first to have the drivers permit, and maybe I had to wait a while before I could sign on the dotted line without my parents. Sure, itll be nice to reach that age when I am finally deemed a true adult in all senses of the word (except in the ability to rent a car). After years of practice, though, I am quite sure that I can wait it out for that horizontal license. In the meantime, I will enjoy being good old twenty, and hope that the big 2-1 is all it is cracked up to be.