Last night/yesterday morning, the cat woke me at 3am (shocking, I know). Unable to go back to sleep, I found myself thinking about my upcoming birthday. Which lead to thoughts about birthdays past. So, I started a list in my head about how I celebrated ten years ago, five years ago, three years ago, and of course, last year, when I celebrated the big 3-0.
As I attempted to block the sounds of the cat tearing around the apartment, scrabbling on the wood floors after his little jingly ball and knocking things over, this mini-chronicle seemed like the makings of a really interesting blog post. But, then again, it was between the hours of 3 and 5 in the morning.
And there really is one birthday story worth sharing: My 21st.
May 29, 2000: It was Memorial Day weekend, I was home from college, and not a single one of my friends was around. And there I was, of legal drinking age and ready to (legally) party. I was also preparing to spend 10 weeks in New York City, where I'd have an abundance of bars, boys and alcoholic beverages with ridiculous names to choose from -- but none of that mattered, because by then, I'd already have been 21 for, like, a week.
Our family celebration was lovely. We went out to dinner at a nice restaurant, which was followed by cake and gifts at home. I really had nothing to complain about -- and really, I didn't.
But my mother knows me all too well. (Although I'm sure it didn't really occur to her that I could possibly want to celebrate this particular coming of age in such a fashion that would result with me being sick as a dog.) After cake and gifts were dispensed with, Mom sighed and said:
"Okay, I'm taking you out for a drink."
I stared at her in disbelief.
"I'll be your... designated driver," she said. "Just don't get too drunk!"
Mom took me to Houston's Restaurant in downtown Bethesda. The bar was half-empty. But the bartender and the few patrons there were all too willing to help me celebrate my birthday. They were surprised and thrilled that my mother was the one helping me celebrate this milestone. ("You're really not her older sister? or her aunt?" they kept asking.)
After imbibing a rum and coke, a strange concoction called a "Redheaded Slut", and some drink that involved a shot of jager in seltzer, my mother declared an end to the festivities. As we walked back to her dark blue, 1989 Volvo station wagon, she asked "So, was that okay....?" Giddy, and half-drunk, I threw my arms around her.
"That was AWESOME! Thank you so much! You are the BEST!"
"Just don't puke in my car," she replied.