Forty-four minus five

In five days I celebrate the forty-fourth anniversary of my birth.

Counting down to that day, I am posting birthday memories.

How long until I got around to detailing the night I became legally able to drink beer, wine and hard liquors? Ah, the legendary 21st birthday, source of songs and stories.

Truthfully, it was not that momentous a birthday as you, my readers and friends, may imagine after all the words I have spilled here about bars and drinking.

But there are still things to remember from that night.

I was dating Amy D. We had been dating for a couple of years, since my senior year in high school. We would not still be dating a year later, on my 22nd birthday, but on that night, we were still together, mostly out of inertia, I think.

Also, my friend Dennis had driven up from Newport, OR, on the coast, to share my birthday with me. He had already passed his age of majority the previous year. He and I had become friends after he had dated my sister, and she had broken up with him. I suspect that he stayed friends with me to keep tabs on his ex-girlfriend, my sister. But I’m a cynical sort. He was geek-y and funny and had a car – oops, my cynicism is showing again.

My girlfriend and my friend and I had dinner with my parents. I’m don’t remember if my sister was there, too – the awkwardness between her and Dennis may have prevented it, and I don’t blame her. There was spaghetti, and chocolate-frosted white cake, and ice cream, and presents.

I don’t remember the presents, but I do remember the chocolate-frosted white cake. And, of course, my friends.

I don’t remember there being booze at dinner. At that point, my parents didn’t keep much alcohol in the house (that I was aware of). The drinking didn’t start picking up again until years later.

After dinner, me and Amy and Dennis drove up to the Cattle Company, a steak house with a lounge, where I ordered my first legal drink: a glass of Glenfiddich single-malt scotch. Amy had wine and Dennis ordered some kind of fruity rum drink, about which Amy and I teased him mercilessly.

And then? I don’t remember. But it’s not that I don’t remember because we went on a drinking bender and I awoke days later. I don’t remember because I think, after a drink or two, Dennis drove Amy home and I and Dennis stayed up talking and catching up.

In those days, I practiced moderation, almost to the extreme. Those were the days.