Wednesday, April 18, 2012

an 18th birthday story.

Birthdays have always been a huge deal for me. Whenever April 19th rolls around, I have to suppress the desire to tell everyone I meet that it’s my birthday. It's the eve of my 25th birthday, and I still have to remind myself that it’s not very adult-like behavior.

The best birthdays were the milestone birthdays: at 16, when you can drive by yourself. 18 means you’re legally an adult, and 21 means that you can finally buy booze. Turning 25 will mean that I can rent a car, but that’s about it. From here on out, it’s just the big ones: 30, 40, 50. I think the “old person” jokes start around 30, but I could be wrong.

I’ve had some good birthdays in my day, that’s the truth. However, one birthday has been head and shoulders above all the rest, and that was the day I turned 18. It wasn’t because I could buy cigarettes (I don’t smoke) or lottery tickets (I’m too cheap). It certainly wasn’t because I wanted to be legal adult: who’s ready for that?! My 18th birthday was my best birthday all because of Applebee’s.

Now, Applebee’s is not necessarily what you would call fine dining. However, it was the fanciest place in Brookings at the time, and it was the only place that would give you free dessert for your birthday. The decision was made.

My 18th birthday was on a Tuesday, and it was wonderful. My brother and sister even sent me balloons. After school that day, my friends Sarah, Bob, Teresa, Rachel, and Dezarae caravanned to Brookings. School got out at 3.10pm, so we had a considerable amount of time to kill before supper time. We scouted movie options at the Brookings Cinema Five and wreaked havoc in WalMart. 
I do what I want on my birthday.
While we were out and about, we were struck with a brilliant idea: what if Bob and I pretended to be fraternal twins and scored an extra brownie? We were both thin blondes with fair skin; the idea of us as siblings wasn’t too far-fetched.

We didn’t want to straight-up lie to Applebee’s, so we had to find a subtle approach – nothing says subtle like the dollar store, right? We trooped into the local dollar store and bought two birthday hats: a pink one for me and a blue one for Bob (“Birthday Prince”). Bob and I donned our birthday gear and headed to Applebee’s to see if we could get them to draw their own conclusions.

We got our table at Applebee’s and ate our dinners. Towards the end of the meal, our waitress came over and said, “I see there’s a birthday!” Bob and I sat up tall in our birthday hats. The rest of my friends smiled broadly and said, “Yes! There IS a birthday!” The waitress returned shortly after, carrying two brownies and followed by a string of singing Applebee’s employees. Bob and I happily shared our brownies with the rest of our friends, incredibly proud of ourselves for getting two free desserts.
So that was my first birthday as a legal adult: I spent it with my friends, scamming Applebee’s out of a cheap brownie. And it was the best birthday ever.

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