Turning “21” again…

Well, its that time of year again. Sometime throughout this long weekend, the Beer Guy turns 21 yet again. Yes indeed, we’re in the middle of “Birthday Week.” So today, we’re in for a history lesson on the legends of the infamous Birthday Week as well as what is the deal with the whole “turning 21” thing.

For starters, I started doing this whole “Birthday Week” thing with my friends, as there were always one or two people who were “preoccupied” for the birthday celebration of a given group member. This seemed to be the case with every birthday celebration within the group. Someone, for one reason or another had something else going on, be it work, school, family, significant others, etc. So, we decided that if we made the actual celebration a week long gig, we’d be able to fit everyone in. For the most part, this worked out and was, by my own admission “in character” with everything we did. Any group that ran with me seemed to have a knack for “over-doing” things (read: we enjoyed beating a dead horse long after everyone else stopped). So, initially birthdays were celebrated as a one week event.

Over time, we noticed a steep increase in “goods and services.” Inflation was taking its toll on the price of things such as cigarettes, beer, gas (no kidding?), food, etc. So, it was decided that in the spirit of beating a dead horse and respecting the reality of inflation, we needed to expand birthday week to keep it real. In 1998, birthday week expanded to a two week celebration. This was the case until 2004, when the birthday week’s equivalent of the Federal Reserve Board of Directors met to discuss the state of Birthday Week. We collectively met to study birthday week and decided that in an attempt to “control inflation,” and to help “stimulate the economy” (not to mention bring balance to the whole birthday week concept), we unanimously voted to increase the duration of birthday week to three weeks. Celebration would commence one week prior to the actual birthday, pick up pace the week of, and cool off the week after.

As an added bonus, this pretty much ensured that we’d have some sort of “birthday week” going on every week of the calendar year. In fact, the logistics of a new member’s birthday week coming into the group is more important, perhaps, than the actual character of said applicant. We would often meet new people just trying to fill the calendar up when noticing an “opening.”

Now, my “birthday week” is a bit different than anyone else’s in the group. This comes as no surprise, given the conversation we had at one of the post-game watering holes about how I am the exception, not the rule in most everything we do. It should be noted that this is not because I am breaking the “rules of the group,” but instead because I seem to influence and enforce policy. A comparison was made to “The Godfather” of the group, as no one enters the circle without my blessing, nor do they “act out” without risking consequences set forth by yours truly. So, given that I am the policy maker, its only fair that I decide what we are celebrating when it comes to my birthday. I decided we were going to celebrate my “turning 21” every year. And yes, there is a reason for such a decision.

I did not get to celebrate my 21st birthday in the fashion most of “the other kids” got to celebrate theirs. Most peeps got to do the whole bar tour, 21 shots, etc. Not me, though I am surely not complaining. I turned 21 on the beaches of Palma, Spain. Turning 21 over there was not a big deal, as it was “legal” to drink prior to the 21 mark. Of course, we made a big deal of it. We hit the beach nice and early and made ourselves a nice “home base” which was roughly 25 yards from this place called the Daiquiri Palace. We had a waitress bringing us a different flavor of daiquiri every half hour. Water accompanied the daiquiri at the top of every hour. The “palace” was to the daiquiri world what Baskin Robins is to the world of ice cream. It was nice.

Well, correction… It was nice until we noticed the severe blistering from being in the sun entirely too long. Apparantly, its not the best of ideas for a bunch of peeps pulling duty on an Aircraft Carrier rarely seeing the light of day to hit the beach and soak up some rayz for more than 1 hour tops. Needless to say, we headed for lower ground (preferably to find shade of some sort) after receiving our 21st Daiquiri, thus hitting for the cycle. Everyone, less myself and Jason bailed, due to blistering in the sun. Jason was a tropper though. He and I purchased some aloe, and some replica football jerseys. Jason purchased a Scotland national team jersey for some ungodly reason, while I grabbed myself an FC Porto jersey. For some stranger reason, football jerseys feel a bit better on the burned skin than regular shirts do. Anyways, the Scotland jersey would come into play later in the evening. We hit a club called BCM. Jason and I were buzzing drunk 2-7’d (read: hammered). One of us was holding up a bit better than the other though, I suspect.

Across the room, we see these two babes, who I overheard mention something about Scotland. I “radio” Jason telling him to get into formation and stressed the importance of my wingman following my lead and not breaking formation under any circumstances. I introduce myself to the ladies and as I suspected, they immediately comment on Jason’s Football Jersey, asking if he’s from Scotland. Being both a man of principle and of honor, I tell them he is in fact from Scotland. Edinburgh, to be exact. He catches on and decides to play the role of a drunken Irishman meets hammered Canadian and slurs to them “you’re damn well bloody right I’m from Scotland, ey?” Its revealed at this point (I’m laughing too hard at his response) that I’m not from Scotland, but instead I am an American and Jason was my foreign exchange student. We’re “on holiday” tearing it up in Europe, and its my birthday. They “seem” to buy the story, at least initially and are thankful we’re not one of those “dirty sailors” that are ruining their vacation. It should be fairly noted that there were 2 U.S. Ships and a British ship in port at this timeframe, so they could have been referring to either one when they dropped the “them people“ bomb.

Anyways, they bought me a birthday shot. Jason reciprocated buying them drinks. We danced it up for a while, talking and dancing, dancing and talking. My wingman was doing me well. I admit he did go a bit overboard when he began speaking in what he believed was a foreign language. We almost lost him there, however I righted the course and said he was doing his impression of a drunken friend that he met when he was my exchange student.

Jason excused himself to the “W.C.” In his absence I was working on arranging the closing of the deal. I received the green light for landing, as we were planning to take off and go back to their hotel, as it was a bit “too loud” in the club. I radioed the wingman telling him we were ready to land. Instead of putting the landing gear down, Jason breaks formation. We start our final approach heading outside and towards their hotel. Its at that point I hear the last words I wanted to hear. Jason slurs (hick-ups included) “Mike, we have to go back to the boat. I think I’m going to die.” I try to cover for him, but that’s so not happening.

He breaks formation and clips my wing in the process. We’re going down, mayday mayday! We crashed and burned. The girls flipped and were not nearly as understanding as I thought. I enacted the one standard deviation rule, citing he has ancestry traceable to Scotland, and each of us hosted an exchange student at one point in time and we did not consider ourselves one of “those people.” No such luck. Crash and burn, live and learn, nice hand good game, total suck out, etc.

Anyways, that event combined with the absence of a “traditional” celebration in the U.S. led me to make up for it by turning 21 every year. We just celebrate my 21st all over again in traditional U.S. fashion. Really, until retirement age, there’s no meaningful birthday, so why not celebrate the anniversary of the 21st in the interim? Besides, there’s no better way to honor the memory of the survivors of the crash than to memorialize it forever in celebratory fashion. To keep score, I just add yet another roman numeral to the end of my stated age “21” and I’m within my one standard deviation rule.

Tonight, birthday week continues with SuperDonk’s “band” playing at one of the local clubs. This is sure to be an amusing event, as the thought of their “band” cracks me up. Monday, the group will be sitting outside overlooking the lake sipping on 50 cent drafts watching the sunset with the Beer Guy reflecting on life XIII years ago.