Age 1: I don’t know. Crapping my pants, probably.
Age 5: Burger King crowns. I often have to wonder if my teacher worked the night shift at BK and lifted these crowns in bulk, or if, as part of some brilliant marketing initiative, Burger King supplied every elementary school in America with a lifetime supply of birthday crowns in order to instill brand loyalty at a young age. At no point during my childhood did I eat Burger King. I don’t even remember seeing one until I was 13. BK might as well have been Sonic, the fast food equivalent of God. I had to rely on faith alone to believe it actually existed. Faith, and birthday crowns.
Age 8: The bowling alley. We’d eat hot dogs and gather around the jukebox, where we’d flip to Nirvana’s Nevermind and giggle about the baby’s penis on the cover of the album. Then we’d put on some Ace of Base and continue bowling. When one of us got a strike, we’d violently slap our laps with our arms in an ‘X’ formation as if to say, “Suck it.”
Age 10: Numerous sleepovers that involved watching Killer Klowns from Outer Space, playing Hide and Seek (in the dark), making someone cry by accident (I think), and eating entire bags of marshmallows.
Age 12: Co-ed hangouts at the friend-whose-parents-work-late’s house. The truth-or-dare era. I remember there being a lot of hickies and video games going on. This is also the age I began to self-identify as Straight Edge, due to my friends being Not Straight Edge, which meant they smoked their mom’s cigarettes and drank screwdrivers.
Age 13: Shoplifting from the mall. If you don’t think shoplifting from the mall qualifies as a party, you were never simultaneously a 13-year-old girl and a recent suburban transplant. We are a rare, emotionally-malfunctioning breed.
Age 14: Camping tents. Almost every party I attended at fourteen featured camping tents and a cornucopia of fruit-inspired alcohol. Everyone would just raid their parent’s liquor cabinets and show up with like, Bacardi O or Limon or any member of the Bacardi family, really, our options were pretty limited back then. Occasionally, some of the older kids hitched a ride to that one deli on the other side of town, where the clerk sold Smirnoff Ice and Mike’s Hard Lemonade to underage kids as long as one of them had a mustache.
Age 15: Tent parties on crack: we’re talking kegs, jungle juice, people falling off of decks, ambulances, Blackhaus, high school seniors, vomit.
Age 16: If someone’s parents were vacationing, strangers from rival schools were in attendance, the police showed up, and someone was grounded indefinitely by the end of the night, it was a party.
Age 18: I had two party options at this point. There was the off-campus party in which you had to pretend to be eternally grateful and enthused that you were allowed in, if you were allowed in (these typically took place at a frat or sports team house, so, the tenth circle of hell), or there was the one bar that allowed you to use your Student ID to gain entrance despite that being totally illegal. They served .25-cent beers. Economic party.
Age 20: I had my own house at this point so the question became, how do I monetize this party? Kegs. Many kegs. Partying became a part-time job for my fellow investors and me. When we tired of hosting, my roommates and I would take the Metro North into “the city,” which actually meant “to Midtown” because we could rarely make it back to Grand Central Terminal in time to catch the last train if we ventured any further than 42nd Street. Midtown is also the only place in Manhattan desperate enough to accept chalked Learner’s Permits as legitimate identification.
Age 21: My 21st year was essentially a Pu Pu Platter of partying. Clubs, dive bars, places you can’t Google (mostly because I can’t remember their names), house parties, launch parties for products I’d never heard of and didn’t care about, basically anywhere I was invited, just because.
Age 22: I come to terms with the fact that I hate nightclubs and that paying $11 for a splash of vodka and ice is insane. I begin to regress into a steady routine of happy hours and house parties. Drinking on an empty stomach ceases to be a part of the party plan.
Age 23: Work begins to catch up with me so if I’m not too grumpy/ tired to make it to my regularly scheduled Friday happy hour after a 45-hour workweek it’s party time.
Age 24: It’s a party if you invite me over and I have to ask if I should bring anything and you reply that you’re cooking but I’m welcome to bring some alcohol for everyone to share.
Age 25: If someone puts on Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall/ Thriller album and I’m drunk I will consider that a party.