Another birthday comes along, but it has no real meaning

If you see someone slinking in the shadows, moving stealthily from tree to tree, hiding from the light and wearing all black, make sure to say hi to me. I’ve got to hide, because it’s my 22nd birthday.

I’ve been trying to find some meaning in my 22nd birthday – what it means to be 22, that kind of thing. I haven’t found any. This is the first birthday in years I haven’t found something really cool to do.

When I turned 15, I got my learner’s permit. This basically meant going to the Minnesota DMV and filling out a form. In my infinite wisdom, I didn’t read the little book before I went, so the learner’s permit had to wait for the day after my birthday.

book The other great thing about turning 15 is that you legally are allowed to drive. (If you’re from a farming community like I am, you’re allowed to operate farm equipment at 14, too.) Of course, you have to drive with an adult, so most of the time I drove, my Dad was yelling, “The speed limit is 35, not 37! Slow down!”

When I turned 16, the state of Minnesota graced me with my license to drive. Normally, that would have been one of the coolest moments of my life. Unfortunately, my mother stopped that awfully quickly. When I went home and pronounced that I had received my license, my Mother said, “That’s great! Here’s three dollars, I need a quart of milk.”

When a guy turns 17, he goes to the first rated-R movie he can find. My first foray into the rated-R scene was “Body of Evidence.” (For those of you without hormones, Madonna and Willam Dafoe had sex in that movie. A lot. On a car.)

Similarly, when I turned 18, my friend Paul and I made the big trip to the newsstand. The shopping list: porn and lottery tickets.

The lady behind the counter checked my ID and still wouldn’t let me buy the porn. Got the lottery tickets, though.

The downside of turning 18, of course, is the potential to be forced to die for your country, thanks to Selective Service. I had won two dollars earlier, though, so I didn’t mind.

Turning 19 is basically pointless – it’s on the road to 21. Turning 20 is the same way, until you realize that in 10 years, you’ll be 30. 30! Minivans are starting to look good to me.

Turning 21? Two words: beer and liquor. As John Belushi said, “I suggest you start drinking heavily.” I’d like to apologize to those who had class with me the day after my birthday. GOV 410 hasn’t smelled the same since.

Then you get hung over and go back to class. This was a bad year, because I realized that fellow Minnesotan Kevin Garnett would make $120 million during the next six years, and he’s a year younger than I am. Bet he gets a good rate on student loans.

But what about 22? Is there anything special involved with turning 22? Or is it just another day when your loved ones give you stuff? (That will always be a good part of birthdays.) You ask yourself a lot of stuff when you turn 22.

I sat next to a girl named Lauren in my Chinese class. She was born in 1980. I can remember 1980, for Pete’s sake! Why am I getting older?

Where is my life going? What have I done with the last 21 years? Why are all of the Olympic competitors younger than me? What is Murray going to do to me this year?

My friend Murray (and his wife) has made it one of his life goals to get revenge by utterly embarrassing me on each birthday. Why, you ask? I don’t know. Really, I don’t. I am completely innocent!

Well, okay. I dragged him out of a bathroom at his wedding in his underwear (wearing a dog collar) and presented him to Diana in front of 300 people. I then told his mother that I was shocked at the juvenile behavior of Murray’s wedding party. But anybody would have done the same in my position.

Since then, Murray’s tried to get back at me, for some unknown reason. When I turned 21 he got me really drunk and made me wear a white jumpsuit (my birthday suit), and made me get everyone in the restaurant sign my birthday suit. You can probably guess that if Murray gets hold of me, I’m dead.

So if you see me hiding this week, be sure and wish me a happy birthday. And if you see Murray, please, you don’t know me.

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