Most people’s 21st birthday has something to do with alcohol and drinking, and possibly spending the next day miserably hung over. As soon as you’re old enough, go for it, right?
At the time, I didn’t (and didn’t really want to) drink at all. I was apathetic about doing something special for my 21st birthday – being 21 was reward enough in my opinion. So I decided to let my mom run with it. She wanted to do something where my little cousins could come have fun, as well as the adults. The venue would be John’s Incredible Pizza. I was a little worried about the general age range of birthday parties, but went with the flow.
You can imagine that most of the normal birthday-boys and girls were at least 10-12 years younger than I was. It was apparent on the faces of the staff when they came into the room expecting a pink-garbed little girl and nervously said, “Well I guess you probably don’t want to wear the party hat?”
The room was decorated the way you’d imagine a kids’ birthday party would be, and my family sat around the tables and ate our pizza and cake and ice cream, then went out into the arcade. This is where the party went from kind of awkward to immensely fun.
My little cousins Catie, Elijah, and Jeremiah were just at the age where they could enjoy the arcade games and bumper cars with a huge amount of blissful joy. The best part was probably the bumper cars – all of us grabbed our own round, rubbery-sided cars and drove around bumping each other with mad glee. We waited in line to go on multiple times with the whole family, and had a blast.
I’ve always enjoyed visiting the arcade – playing Dance Dance Revolution, SkeeBall, and some of the more chance-oriented games where you have to hit the button at the exact time to get the amount of tickets necessary to pluck that giant stuffed animal down from the shelf. Even now, if you offer me a stuffed Pikachu for prize tickets, I’m probably going to try my luck at getting enough tickets for it. Playing DDR with a group of family members cheering you on (or even joining you) is enough to make your cheeks hurt from smiling and laughing so much.
Although at the time I felt a bit awkward about having my 21st birthday at a place for little kids (and the staff certainly didn’t help) it’s a fond memory now, even just a few years later. I’m glad that I was able to spend the time around my family, having fun doing an activity we don’t normally do together, and just having a blast being silly or bumping each other in big, rubber-sided cars.