This birthday was a rather tame affair.
My friends and I went for an awesome Japanese buffet dinner and that was about it. Not that I was expecting more. Instead of yearning for more alcohol after dinner, I just wanted to go home to play with the puppy. A sign of age, perhaps?
It was. The sake kicked in not long after I had my shower and I promptly fell into deep sleep.
I still remember going to play Laser Tag at some secluded facility in Shanghai last year but strangely enough, I can’t recall how I spent all the birthdays preceding that. In fact, those I truly remember are the ones during my secondary school days. Oh wow, the memories of those are still so darn vivid.
The event has seemingly lost its meaning through the years, but I guess that’s natural. Everyone’s got different commitments now. Jobs, kids, new friends, new colleagues, new boyfriends, and whatever. Back in the days when all we had was a core group of friends (I mean, how many cliques can you possibly have when you were 14, right?) the fun just seemed to be amplified.
Birthdays were a big thing during those glorious days. They were something I’d look forward to immediately after they ended. It was also the time when I’d get actual presents. These days, people just ply you with drinks till you barf. I’m not entirely sure why that’s the norm for adults. I think I still prefer getting a present.
Planning for birthdays was a joy back then. You’d need a comprehensive guest list which should definitely include the prettiest and most popular girls in class and an exciting array of activities that can cater to both sexes. The great thing about being a kid was that the boys would turn up regardless of whether their respective crushes were in attendance.
“Hey, it’s my birthday. Come play SEGA and football.”
These days you get all sorts of goddamn excuses.
“Hey, it’s my birthday. Come for dinner.”
“I’ll have to get back to you. I’m still suffering from jet lag after that epic European holiday.”
“Fuck off. I’m rescinding my invitation.”
And then there are those who still act like they’re 3-years-old.
“Hey, it’s my birthday. Come for dinner.”
“Are you inviting my ex-boyfriend? Because if you are I’m not turning up.”
I think the invitations back then were all done via word of mouth. It was hard work. There was no such thing as Facebook back then. Hell, Internet was usually associated with the beeps and shrills from a dial-up modem.
I’d use to have these epic water gun battles with schoolmates, complete with water bombs, incessantly screaming, security guards telling us to keep it down, and of course, girls in wet t-shirts. Then there was the couple of hours of gaming on the SEGA (or was it PlayStation console) before we headed downstairs to play football.
Oh, football. We’d used to play on the basketball court, and much of the fun was derived from seeing my friends trudge through rather dense vegetation on one end (we named it The Predator Forest), or crawl halfway through a concrete pipe on the other just to retrieve the now legendary 30-cent plastic ball. Scoring took much skill, depending on what type of basketball posts they were. Naturally those that featured just a single pole made scoring incredibly challenging.
After a thoroughly exhausting afternoon of football and maybe a little basketball, we’d have a dip in the pool before the BBQ. Then perhaps more water bombs would be thrown, more wet t-shirts, and more screaming before the cake-cutting. The night would wind down with gossip sessions or heart-to-heart talks, probably aided by whatever alcohol content Jolly Shandy, E33, Sub Zero or Hooch had. It was important to drink such beverages because it showed how ballerz you are. It also gave you the right to plausible deniability when you do something utterly stupid. I remember running to the bus stop half naked to bid goodbye to my crush. Maybe that was why I never got her.
Going to bed after such an eventful day was usually difficult. Besides reeling from the presents received (any present was an awesome present during those days), my mind would be racing about what I should do for next year’s birthday. Then you cap the night off by send an alpha numeric message to your crush’s Motorola jazz pager, thanking her for turning up. Or spend the night whining to your best friend over the phone about how she didn’t turn up.
Oh, the days of adolescence.
So, when was the last awesome birthday bash you had?