Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Remembrance of Birthdays Past

Today is my birthday (nananana, it's my birthday too!), and you know, birthdays are nice. But I don't really get worked up about them like I used to. Years ago, I would remind my family weeks in advance, drop thinly veiled hints for gift ideas and maybe make a couple of jokes about something absurdly extravagant that I would like, such as a chimpanzee or a jet plane. Or a chimpanzee flying a jet plane, like Virgil in "Project X." But now it's more like, "Oh? You say it's my birthday? Wait, how old am I? Oh, yes. Fun!"

I lost most of my excitement about them when I turned 21. After that, I just stopped counting. But in the years leading up to that magical milestone, I greeted every birthday with, "Today, I'm X. Only X more years until turning 21!" When I turned 20, I began counting down the days. "Only X more days until I can go to that Irish pub after classes and get drunk...legally!"

When I finally turned 21 on a Wednesday, I believe, I didn't hesitate. Me and some friends were at a bar playing dice waiting for the clock to strike midnight. The minute it did, I went up and my boyfriend at the time bought me my first fully legal drink. Then he said, "Let's go to other bars!" And so we hit every bar in the downtown San Jose area and I got a drink at each one after proudly flashing my ID.

I drank so much at my official 21st birthday party the following weekend that I wished my friend Jane a happy birthday after she had carried me to bed. "No, it's your birthday," she laughed.
"Oh. OK. Well, good night!"

My next notable birthday was my 30th a couple years ago. Thanks to the Mr.'s line of work, I've often had to celebrate alone, and I was especially determined not to spend a milestone birthday by myself. Some girlfriends and I made plans to rendezvous in Vegas that weekend. All hell broke loose a week before we left when the projections for Hurricane Isabel not only showed that it was coming right toward us, but hitting around the time our flight was scheduled to depart.

Jasclo and I had to scramble (the rest of the girls were coming from CA). We made a solemn vow, first, that not leaving was not an option and that we were going to do whatever it took. We found a flight leaving from another airport 3 hours away first thing in the morning, and changed our flights to the tune of $400. Ow, ow, ow. But we really did not want to stay in town for this. Our move turned out to be a good choice: the airline eventually reimbursed everyone who had to change a flight because of the hurricane.

The whole thing felt like it was a scene out of "Twister," us against the storm. We didn't breathe until the plane was safely in the air.

That trip to Vegas remains notable for two things: we learned that nine is the maximum number of people you can put in a Mustang Convertible (note that I didn't say "safely") and I lost $40 in a single hand at blackjack -- something about splitting aces and doubling down multiple times -- which was painful.

This year, I'm keeping it mellow. And, you'll be shocked to know, I've actually answered the phone several times this morning.