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The 21st

Mike Gotimer | Wednesday, November 10, 2010

As the clock struck midnight on Tuesday morning, my friends and I tossed confetti in the air and hoisted my friend Bear on a chair to celebrate his “Bear-mitzvah.” We’d been looking forward to his birthday for quite a while now because his is the last 21st birthday that our group has to celebrate, which might be our biggest event until graduation. While all birthdays are special, the 21st birthday is the Holy Grail of birthdays because it gives you almost any legal freedom you can imagine. In the 14 months or so since my first friend turned 21, I’ve noticed that all 21st birthdays can fall into certain categories. While they all may be celebrated the same way, the actual time when they’re celebrated can mean a lot of different things.

Here’s a short sample of everything you need to know about the 21st birthdays that will matter most to you:

1. Your 21st birthday: Your 21st birthday is far and away the best out of all them because it’s most anticipated birthday of your life other than the year you get your driver’s license. Once you turn 21, you’ll never have to look both ways before you crack open a beer again. You’re a celebrity on the night itself, and the people you celebrate with will make sure that you have the greatest night possible. As an added bonus, you’ll never have to worry about drinking around your family ever again.

2. The first 21st birthday: Every group has to have a first 21st birthday, which is an exciting one because you realize that your day of glory is within striking distance. There can be an awkwardness factor involved, however, as you may have to throw a party that goes something like this: “Happy birthday, friend! Go buy yourself some alcohol because we can’t!” We fortunately avoided this scenario, however, because the first three 21st birthdays in our group occurred over the summer.

3. The 21st birthdays between the first 21st birthday and yours: Depending on where you fall in your group’s age structure, this can be an excruciating. If you’re the youngest in your group, you may get frustrated because you’re the farthest from your own 21st birthday. Regardless, you’ll become impatient with waiting at some point, usually after the birthday immediately preceding yours.

4. The last 21st birthday: This 21st birthday is probably the best one after your own. For the last one, nobody in the group can be excluded from the activities because they’re not legal to drink. As long as you drink responsibly, you and your friends can pretty much do whatever you want without having to worry about someone getting in trouble. As a result, your youngest friend’s birthday will undoubtedly have the best party because all of your friends can attend, along with some of the kids in the grade below you who were the firsts in their own group. Furthermore, your youngest friend will likely go wild because his long wait is finally over.


The views expressed in the Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

Contact Mike Gotimer at mgotimer@nd.edu