Last Saturday was my birthday, and Shane threw me a fabulous party with all of our new friends at a bar down the street. Thirty people showed up, and I ended the night drinking directly out of a bottle of wine purchased by a gentleman raised in the great state of Missouri AND walked home shoeless. Wins all around.
It also got me thinking about all of the various birthday party stages we all go through:
HPN (The Home Partying Network): Ages 1-5
Parties are generally at-home affairs.
Notable characteristics: sheet cake (either homemade or from the grocery store); family members present in equal or greater numbers than friends; gift bags.
My Best Party: The year my mom ran out of room on the birthday cake so she just wrote “HAPPY ALISON” since we couldn’t read the goddamn thing anyways.
The MezoMcDonald Era: Ages 6-9/10
Celebration is dictated by the package provided by the local party venue.
Notable characteristics: disgruntled teenage staff; plasticy pizza; manic adolescent energy.
My Best Party: Eschewing local favorites such as McDonald’s or the Skatin’ Station, my 6th birthday was held on a Sunday afternoon at Spanky’s Bar & Grill, a local night club that was under my dad’s management at the time. 25 Television Screen Dance Floor (it was the 80’s, after all) + Virgin Daiquiries + Glow Sticks = best party EVER.
Sleep-Overs!!!!! (Single-sex): Ages 11-12
The sleep-over birthday party period was short-lived but is etched in my brain as deeply as the exhaustion was etched on my face for the rest of the weekend after one of these shin-digs.
Notable characteristics: sleeping bags; finished basements; dads showing up in their underwear to tell us to go to bed; blueberry muffins in the morning.
My Best Party: I have always hated (HATED) to leave anyone out, so my one foray into a sleep-over birthday party consisted of two separate sleeping stations to accommodate the 25 girls I insisted on inviting over. Plus I had a perm.
The Wonder Years, i.e. Co-Ed Parties: Ages 12-15
Co-ed parties. Mind blowing.
Notable characteristics: Spin the bottle. ‘Nuff said.
My Best Party: 14th. Spin the bottle. ‘Nuff said.
Sweet Sixteen!: Ages 15-16
Since everyone OBVIOUSLY becomes an adult at 16, this is a very important year for parties.
Notable characteristics: teenage hormones; guest lists; pop stars (if you’re, like, totally too cool for school and your parents, like, totally love you); hidden booze (if you’re, like, totally too cool for school but your parents actually love you and don’t want any of that shit at your party, understand?).
My Best Party: My uncle owned one of the best bars in town. He shut it down for a night so I could have a party for 200 of my closest friends on my 15th birthday. Can you even IMAGINE how cool I felt that night??? There was a fucking line at the door of HIGH SCHOOL kids who weren’t allowed in. I died of coolness. I still die thinking about it.
Boozy Booze Booze Booze Bags: Ages 17-29
Whether it’s a field party, a hotel party, a dorm party, an apartment party, a party at a bar, a big group dinner or a party in AC, for 12 years virtually every birthday party you throw or attend is centered around one thing: getting shitfaced.
My Best Parties:
19: My birthday fell on the evening of a Pi Phi/SAE pledge class dinner. My boyfriend at the time showed up drunk with a bunch of his idiot friends and gave me a Barnes & Noble bag containing a copy of the Kama Sutra. I can’t believe that one didn’t work out.
21: My friend Jamie brought her boyfriend to a girls’ dinner. He was the only dude at the dinner, and proved it by ordering me a shot of tequila every 15 minutes for 2 hours. I was hungover for 3 days.
22: In an amazing group effort, my sisters from other misters coordinated an epic birthday celebration wherein Brooke flew to Princeton from Columbia for the weekend and Laura rented a huge-ass white SUV limo that took a huge group to Hooters from my eating club. It was epic.
26: My bff Emily and I threw ourselves a siiiiiick 16+10 birthday party at a bar on the Bowery. I wore a skirt from Express that, in my mind, looked like Carrie on the side of the bus in Sex and the City (winky face). In reality, it looked like Carrie on the side of the bus in Sex and the City (sad face).
29: Drunk girl brunch at Pastis, followed by drunk girl shopping in Meatpacking, followed by drunk girl hangout at the Boom Boom Room (at 5 pm, so we ain’t that cool).
The rest: All of my friends came together to drink with me and listen to me say “I am soooo drunk!!!” for hours on end.
The Dirty 30: Age 30
Like the sweet 16, only we’re the ones picking up the tab.
Notable characteristics: Fancy Paperless Post invites; huge guest lists; open bars; themes.
My Best/Only Party:
I was pregnant with Poppy. We had a party at our apartment that I arranged, cooked for, cleaned for, and cleaned up after.
And Now We’re Adults: Age 31+
Oddly enough, drinking is still the central feature.
Notable characteristics: Still with the Paperless Post; babysitters required.
My Best Parties:
This year. Seriously. Did you know that people bring gifts to adult parties in London? AMAZING.