In a casual estimate of 35 days, eight hours and 53 minutes, I will reach an arbitrary milestone and transform into an adult.
Standing on the summit of 21 is genuinely thrilling.
The celebration will taste even sweeter because of the frustrating year leading up to it. Twenty is a cruel tease of an age due to the inaccessible bar scene looming over the proceedings, like a spectral Mufasa in the clouds.
Finally it’s my turn to bail from the underage scene and its sweat-drenched freshman dance floors, so why am I not more excited?
It’s not nostalgia for lost youth; my childhood was dead the moment Shia LaBeouf commanded battle monkeys in Indiana Jones 4.
Nor is it legal concern. March 11 just so happens to be the second Friday of spring break and Daytona, Fla., is a comfortable distance from the jurisdiction of overzealous Blacksburg police.
My hesitation comes from thinking about the day after the birthday shenanigans. When the hangover subsides, are there any future festivities that can compare to the dizzying heights of that first night downtown?
Access to bars and casinos is an American citizen’s last right to unlock. These diminishing returns on aging grow even more depressing if you subscribe to Patton Oswalt’s theory on the observance of birthdays.
A rotund, geeky Oscar Wilde for modern times, Oswalt satirizes some of the least desirable aspects of our culture through absurdist humor.
College students basking in the snarky glow of intelligent 21st century comedy owe him a debt of gratitude. Oswalt was a leading member of the alternative comedy resistance when Americans tossed precedent aside and chose hyperliterate humor over the banal Dane Cooks of the world.
Oswalt rode his dorky anecdotes and keen insight into modern life to the top of the stand-up world with hilarious tracks, like, “You Are Allowed 20 Birthdays,” in which he advocates a clampdown on unnecessary celebrations.
“Anytime you enter a new set of 10s — 20, 30, 40, 50 — you get a birthday. Twenty-one you get an awesome birthday and then that’s it: a birthday every 10 years. ‘I’m 26!’ Great, go to work, who gives a ****?”
This train of thought was damping my spirits before I spoke to my sister, a Navy officer. She had broken the rule the night before by celebrating her 24th birthday with friends. These budding military leaders threw a Gatsby-esque outdoor extravaganza with age-appropriate entertainment including kegs, a tiki bar and an inflatable bouncing castle.
The image of 30-year-old marines flopping around inside the castle snapped me out of Debbie Downer mode. You only get one opportunity to turn 21, but so what? There’s also only one prom, one first time and one college experience, but that doesn’t mean life goes downhill after they’re done.
Besides, there’s still one event I’ll get to anticipate for decades to come: a Redskins Super Bowl victory.