Adventures in birthday-party throwing

By Leila Sales

There comes a day in everyone’s life when she must grow up, shoulder responsibility, and become the man of her house. This day can come whenever, so I was thinking, like, tomorrow. Problem is, tomorrow is my 21st birthday, and on my birthdays, rather than mature, I tend to regress several millennia. This becomes particularly apparent when we gather round the fireplace, take out the old scrapbook, and review my past birthday parties:

The Horse-Themed Party, a.k.a. The Party Of Despotism: When I turned 10, I held a slumber party with “events” scheduled throughout Saturday night and Sunday morning. Unfortunately, I planned for the “events” to occur at rapid intervals, so Saturday’s itinerary looked something like this:

6:00—horse race (jog around a field while neighing)

6:08—dressage competition (perform a dance and I will score you on how graceful it is)

6:20—treasure hunt (look for oats!)

6:24—frolic wildly through the enchanted forest

And so on. There was also a horse-jumping competition, where you had to leap over flower pots and chairs and stuff, and you lost points if you knocked them over. But then one girl sprained her ankle on a wood stool. Her injury caused us to run behind schedule, which infuriated me. But you know what infuriated my friends? Being woken up at 7:30 a.m. on a Sunday to participate in a horse-wrangling contest.

The Gymnastics-Themed Party, a.k.a. The Party Of Enforced Inferiority: For my 11th birthday, my family rented out my gymnastics academy. I think normally when there are parties there, the gymnastics instructors just let the kids bounce on the trampoline or whatever. But I used the gym to hold a gymnastics competition, which I will admit, 10 years later, was not entirely fair, seeing as I was the only one of my friends with any gymnastics training. I totally dominated this contest, but my mother made me give away the candy that I won because, as she pointed out, “It was supposed to be a party favor.”

The Slumber Party With “Rooms,” a.k.a. The Divide-And-Conquer Party: The brilliant idea here was that each room in my house would be designated for a different activity. For example, the kitchen was for art projects, the basement was for sticker trading, the living room was for talking, and so on. What I had failed to consider was that some of my friends liked people better than activities, so everyone ended up clumped together in the kitchen even though only two of them were actually working on art projects.

I spent most of my party reprimanding people for being in the wrong place; like, “Yes, Gretchen, I understand that Emily and Lisa are in the dining room, and I understand that you want to hang out with them, and I understand that my basement is a creepy spider-infested cesspool—but if you’re going to play with your stickers, then for God’s sake get your ass downstairs.”

Maybe I didn’t say “ass,” though. I mean, I was only nine. The youngest dictator ever!

I may be the only person with this problem, since most people seem to be content with chilling and letting their birthdays just happen around them. Especially when they turn 21, people are prone to saying, “Man, I’ll be so wasted I won’t care what happens!” Whereas I’m like, “No! Can’t get drunk! That might prevent me from micromanaging the festivities!” Besides which, alcohol combined with faux horse shows presents a real safety hazard.

Although my 21st birthday seems unlikely to introduce a new age of drunken debauchery, I do have an extensive list of what I plan to accomplish in my adulthood:

I will no longer leave used tissues in my purse because when my friends open my bag to look for chapstick they always get grossed out by my snotty Kleenex.

I will read the newspaper everyday, and not just the Leisure and Style section, so that when people start talking about Chechnya I won’t have to excuse myself to the bathroom for half an hour.

When I’m walking down the street and I see people whom I kind of know, I will not pretend like something urgent has just happened on my cell phone that prevents me from saying hello to them.

I will stop putting so much effort into my appearance so that, when I see girls who are hotter than me, I can be like, “Yeah, I would be more attractive than her if I bothered to brush my hair ever.” And no one will know if it’s true or not.

I will purchase a lamb because they are adorable.

And, finally, I will forever more refrain from birthday girl tyranny.

Being a grown-up is no problem. Probably.