I am writing this posthumously.
What I mean by that is I am writing this on Monday, March 18, and this won’t be published until Tuesday, March 26. I turn 21 at midnight on Sunday, March 24. My friends are making sure I don’t remember anything. It’s going to be a rough night.
You know how the more excited you get for something the less fulfilling it usually turns out to be? I can remember oozing with anticipation for my 16th birthday, fantasizing about the freedom driving would bring me. Now, more than four years later, I dread people asking me for rides and the droll of sitting on a backed up I-76 for hours. The point is, it’s natural to overlook the negatives of something when the positives seem so glamorous.
I’m not saying that I don’t want to turn 21. I’m just saying that as I crawl closer and closer to legalization, I’m beginning to sober up – pun completely intended – to the realities of making the leap out of underaged purgatory.
Let’s be realistic. Turning 21 in college, especially at Temple, likely doesn’t equal your first experience with alcohol. I won’t go into detail to avoid self-indictment, but I would venture to guess that you know what I’m talking about.
What is so great about bars, anyway? I went to them in London, and the experience was probably a 50–50 split. Sure, you’ll have nights with good music and it’s easy to get a drink. But other times you’re suffocating in a crowded dump, waiting three hours for one drink and having to tolerate the conversation of wasted friends that aren’t all that interesting to hear.
Guess what else? Turns out you actually have to pay for drinks at bars. Crazy, I know. Someone told me they paid $14 for one shot the other night. Do you know what I could get for $14 dollars? I could get fries off the dollar menu at Wendy’s. Then a cheeseburger. Then 12 other things.
Oh and that’s not all you have to pay for. Unless I’m willing to navigate my way through Philadelphia at 3 a.m. with a buzz, my debit card will be subject to the mercy of whatever back way the taxi driver decides to take me home.
Don’t forget literally anyone you know under the age of 21 begging you every weekend for some social lubrication. “Can you buy me a 40? I’ll totally pay you back. And could you drop it off at my dorm? Oh and also can you like get some for my friends? Actually, could you just physically pour malt liquor down my throat?” I might have to turn off my phone every Thursday morning through Sunday afternoon just to spare myself.
Couple all of that with the irrational fear of becoming “that guy” who ends up sulking on a Maxi’s barstool every day of the week, wondering how my grades have plummeted and personal relationships have shattered over a lukewarm Miller Lite in a clear plastic cup.
I will admit the last one might be a stretch. And I’m also aware my bickering fits the bill for a classic First World problem. I guess it’s just that after years of looking at the benefits, I’m just now starting to realize that turning 21 doesn’t give me unlimited beer money or save me from desperate underclassmen.
But who am I kidding? This is going to be awesome. I’m going to milk this weekend for all it’s worth. I still have to practice my victory dance for each time a bouncer looks at my seriously-this-kid-can’t-be-older-than-17 face, only to swipe my license and have to let me in.
Let’s just say I’m praying for my liver. Oh, and if someone could lend me $14, that would be great.
Daniel Craig can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Ohh_Danny_Boy.