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The Evolution Of Your Birthday Party

Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away, the day you were born used to mean something. By “mean something,” I mean it gave you a taste of popularity and supremacy that no other occasion could, except for maybe your Bar or Bat Mitzvah. Even as wee little ones, this day was a celebration for all to bow down and hail your existence. Does a 1-year-old need a giant cake and 30 other infants present to truly appreciate her life? No, of course not, because said 1-year-old can’t appreciate anything yet. I’ve always thought that the mother should be congratulated. I mean, she’s the one who successfully birthed the child. The child had absolutely no say in the matter.

Regardless of why we celebrate birthdays with such fervor, they are a staple in our society. Since I recently “celebrated” my 24th, I couldn’t help but reflect back on some birthdays of the past and look at how things have changed.

Chuck E. Cheese’s

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Okay, to be honest, I went to some knock-off place called Fun World for my birthday in first grade–let’s pretend we went because it was closer to my house. But I digress. Everyone has had a birthday similar to this. Our parents got tired of saying no and also realized it was 10 times easier than anything else because they literally didn’t have to plan anything. They only had to shell out an obscene amount of money for you to run around in your socks while putting things in your mouth that definitely should not be there. Now that I think about it, those places are probably up to the code of a black market butcher shop in central Europe. It’s okay, it was good for our immune systems.

Seasonally Themed Party

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These bad boys were also pretty good for the parents because they could take advantage of whatever time of year it was. If you were a summer baby (sorry you never got to celebrate in school) you got a sick pool party. Everything probably went well until little Jessica slipped while running and needed 87 stitches immediately. As for me, I was born in the armpit of winter, right around the time everyone posts, “I’d rather kill myself than put up with this freezing weather” My (saint of a) mother recently reminded me of her least favorite birthday party of mine: a sledding party. Since I lived within walking distance of our high school–which contains two giant hills on its campus–we decided to get a gaggle of kids up there to take advantage. Turns out she hated dressing and undressing 15 snot-nosed children. If you were in the fall or spring, I’m not really sure what happened. Perhaps a May Day theme? I wouldn’t put it past some of you nerds. Halloween if you’re lucky? Actually, that would be pretty cool.

Tween Parties

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Ah, those beautiful years. Your hormones were raging beyond anything seemingly possible. You were still skinny but you had braces and acne. You did, however, have your first taste of freedom, and you may have made it to first base. One of these bday parties probably revolved around going to the movies or just hanging in someone’s basement, only with cake and more decorations. You played Seven Minutes in Heaven, during which you made out with one of your guests. Pretty sure I was too angsty to actually try to have a birthday party in middle school–or I just knew no one would come. I did, however, spend my 13th birthday at the high school basketball game drooling over one of the seniors. He actually bestowed a bouquet of flowers on me after the game, which, upon reflection, seems kind of illegal. The best part of that birthday though? The Linkin Park CD I got. Thanks Mom!

The College Birthday Shitshow

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I might just have to make this up considering I spent every anniversary of my birth unconscious during college. No matter who you are, you celebrated hard at some point in college. People loved to regress and you received similar attention as you did in elementary school. Only this time, people were just enthusiastic to celebrate with you because it was a special occasion and they could justify blacking out. You usually had to provide all the alcohol anyway, and what poor college kid doesn’t love free booze? I can’t pretend to be mad about spending my 21st at a nice dinner with some friends and then at a total dive karaoke bar mingling with townies. I reflect on it as a night of cultural immersion, but one which I will not repeat. Whether you stayed on campus, went to a bar, or a hung out with your sorority or fraternity, you probably had too much fun on your birthday at least once during your college years. Go hard or go home, right?

Postgrad Birthdays

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All I can think of here is the noise every game show makes when you lose on national TV. You know what I’m talking about. You’re a real adult, and that means you can actually be kicked out of the bar on your birthday. It also means that the majority of the people you’re around if you go out won’t give a flying fuck that you were born. Don’t tell the bartender it’s your birthday and that he should do seven shots with you. Maybe you spend your birthdays now by having a few beers with buds. But, inevitably, you could wind up 15 miles from home with no idea how to get back and a new tattoo. Have fun with that hangover the next day, too. It’s just there to remind you you’re old and your birthdays are never going to be as fun as they used to be.

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Mary Swanson

Both a bitter and optimistic 24-year-old entry-level underachiever with 2-4 friends and 0 talents. Washed up is an understatement. I prefer almost all my food luke-warm, what does that say about me?

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