Birthdays sure ain’t what they used to be

So, my birthday is this Saturday and despite what you might think, I’m not so excited about it.

Sure birthdays used to be an electrifying occurrence, something to be looked forward to for months. And then the magic day would arrive…presents, cake and a party! Hours upon hours of a celebration of me!

Birthdays used to be a time when you would look forward to getting older, wanted to be the age of an older sibling who had more privileges (or a better wardrobe).

As young children most of us hoped to be the most glamorous of all age groups — a teenager. That mystical time when you have some independence from mom and dad and you can stay up later. It was the type of existence glorified by television shows. Who didn’t want to be Kelly on 90210 (or maybe Saved by the Bell)? Guys dreamt of being Ferris Bueller cool.

By the time I hit high school, with my dreams of having a high school like Bayside or West Beverly all but shattered, I desperately just wanted to be 16 so I could drive. Then I got my license. The freedom, the fun. “Wait, what do you mean I have to ask to use the car?”

Then I wanted to be 18 so I could move out, go to college, buy lottery tickets. I was even excited at the prospect of buying cigarettes even though I don’t smoke and wanted my parents to quit. It was the principle of the thing. Sadly, 18 came and went without much fanfare. I had been in college for two months already and got my first job. I didn’t have enough free time to celebrate anyway. I spent my 18th birthday at work. My roommate brought me a Papa John’s pizza with candles stuck in it.

But wait, there is still one more milestone to hit. It was now the race to 21. That elusive arbitrary number that determines your ability to reserve a hotel room, buy alcoholic beverages and gamble. Yes! I’m 21! And then?

Well, I will tell any of you who have not reached this milestone yet, it’s a bit anticlimactic after that. Turning 22 was cool and all, but it’s just 22. It’s not like you all of a sudden get the privilege of being old enough to eat Fritos or something like that. Nope, you’re just a year older.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some perks. Turning 25 wasn’t so bad. My car insurance went down. And now I can rent a car by myself, which I can then wreck and insurance will go back up. So, not as fun as getting your driver’s license or turning 21, but not so bad.

But this year it’s even less exciting. I’m turning 27. The most depressingly arbitrary age there is. You’re not in your early 20s. You’re not in your mid 20s. But you’re not quite in that comfortable 30 something bracket yet either. Nope. Just 27. Late 20s here I come.

So, this year I find myself saying what I’ve heard my dad say for years. “Well, I’m another year older, but it sure beats the alternative.”

Well said, Dad. Well said. I promise won’t roll my eyes at you when you say it this year.

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