The experience of fulfilling this week‘s list item can also be referred to as “the night I learned how to drink and forgot how to walk,“ or, more simply, “the night I turned 21.“
Before I delve deep into the inner-workings of my most recent birthday, let me first say that while not all experiences should be repeated, they are all worthy of being cherished (no matter how much you regret it in the morning). That having been said … NEVER again. I know, never say never, because you never know when you might wind up with your foot placed firmly in your mouth, but I feel confident in claiming that I simply don‘t have to rinse and repeat. Glad to have done it once, happy to keep it at once.
As it happens, one of the things friends often forget when you turn 21 is that you will be legally able to drink, forever. There is no need for each of your legal pals to buy you a drink all in one night. As many of you already know, the 21st birthday equation often looks like this:
One birthday girl lots of excited friends = too many drinks in a short period of time. It also equals a night to remember (that you either can’t, or wish you could forget).
Throughout the course of my special night, there was dancing, singing, drunken walking, lots of water and several badge of honor stamps on my forehead. At the end of the evening, I earned my Loser Badge, but you’ll have to admit, I did it with style.
First off, it should be noted, I did the responsible thing and figured out ride options before the drinking began. 10 points for me. However, when I stepped off the curb to wait for said ride, UC Davis was obviously hit by a 7.0 earthquake. What else could account for the street moving so violently that I would up with my ankle twisted like a French braid? It’s possible 7.0 was actually the number of drinks I had, and the earth never moved at all. You know when you see someone who has had too much to drink, you often say, “He (or she) is feeling no pain“? Wrong. I felt plenty of pain. When I woke up the next morning the pain had spread to my head, and my foot and ankle were swollen and colorful. Had I been wearing dark blue pajamas, my foot would have matched perfectly.
As clumsiness is an almost daily occurrence in my life, I attributed the bruising and swelling to a sprain, wrapped it in an ace bandage, and continued on my merry way. After over a week passed and the swelling and bruising hadn‘t gone away, it occurred to me that perhaps the Cowell doctors were overdue for a visit from yours truly.
One advice nurse, a handy touch screen check in and a doctor‘s visit later, I can now be found sporting an attractive black boot (complete with Velcro straps and an air pump). It‘s large and cumbersome, but it helps. So, I deal with it…. I‘m even thinking of naming it.
With my boot as a reminder, I have moved past my birthday with the belief that turning 21 was a very important part of my college experience, and my list. I learned many things, including: my own limits, what it‘s like to have someone else inform you of something you don‘t ever remember saying and how to ice one‘s ankle while riding on Amtrak and BART. I take special pride in confusing the Arthritis Clinic X-ray technician into thinking she had the wrong chart because my injured ankle wasn‘t on the “to be X-rayed“ list.
Now I will move on from this experience having gleaned much from living it. And, as an added bonus, I can now offer you, my dear reader, a few suggestions if you have not yet gone through this monumental birthday:
Remind friends that they can also buy you a drink tomorrow, or the next day, or even a year from now. Being legal is now a way of life, not a one night only special. Make sure there are people with you who care about how you get home (and are willing to stay with you through the night … special thanks to my loves).Whenever possible, use wheelchair access ramps and driveways instead of curbs.To the ladies in the world … wear flats.
Emily Kaplan is sincerely hoping she’s not the only person cool enough to have a 21st birthday Loser Badge. If you share in her pain (pun intended), e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.