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Forever 21

Kelly Meehan | Wednesday, January 25, 2006

While many students spent the first week back to school surveying their syllabi, buying books and readjusting to college life, I was basking in the glory (or lack thereof) of turning 21.

I have always looked forward to my 21st birthday, knowing that it could potentially enhance my South Bend social life. I would no longer be limited to the “off-campus” party scenario and could finally join my older bar-hopping buddies.

I kicked off the weeklong celebration in style by visiting Corby’s, adorned with my “I need a cocktail” pin, rather than the sometimes in-your-face-it’s-my-birthday-accessory of a crown.

Anticipation grew as my friends and I counted down the moments leading up to midnight when I could proudly present the sometimes staunch bouncer with my legitimate Ohio license.

I am not going to lie; initially I was appalled by the dark, crowded and smoky interior of the bar and intimidated by those confident (or drunk) enough to stand on the chairs to belt out the words of their favorite Journey jam.

But soon I let go of my inhibitions, I embraced the sometimes deemed “classic” bar for what it was. I knew that with the right mix of friends, lack of personal space and terrific classic rock this could potentially be the best birthday of my life.

The next day it was time to further examine the bars of the Bend with a trip to Rum Runners. The crass dueling piano players proved rather entertaining, especially when I was called onto the stage along with a fellow celebratory 21-year-old to entertain the crowd with a birthday festivity that included a somewhat humiliating version of “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.”

I thought I would keep things going on Thursday night with a trip to the elusive downtown hotspot “Club Fever.” Apparently hundreds of other “21-year-olds” felt similarly. The painstaking hour and a half wait to enter was made even worse when I was denied entry for a suspicious ink smudge on my hand mixed with a really bad idea.

To make up for this disappointment of being denied, I took my business around the corner to Finnegan’s, where my friend and fellow Observer staffer Nicole Zook and I were welcomed with free admittance and drink.

My birthday bar crawl certainly was a great experience, but I could not help notice that not much had changed. There were still negative aspects like crowded rooms and creepy men, but one thing that did not change was the time I spent with great friends.

Getting into bars and no longer being considered a minor is certainly a pleasure. But I realized that no matter how old you turn on your next birthday or where you celebrate it the time will be most beneficial if you are with the ones you love.

So regardless of how you celebrate your 21st birthday, know that you deserve nothing but the best – whatever that may be. This birthday is about more than being allowed to buy alcohol, strangely exciting bar experiences or even the ability to wear a goofy crown for the day. It is knowing that you have made it this far and that the best is yet to come.