Under 21 and feeling ‘underprivil-aged’

by Jenna Mackey, Photo Editor

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It’s that time of the year once again when The Daily Aztec puts out its most popular special issue: The Bar Issue. Writers, photographers and editors spend their extra nights off, scouring the San Diego area looking for new hangouts and revisiting old favorites.

This is also that time of year when I’m reminded how not-21 I am. But actually now that I think about it, I’ve been reminded of that fact every day since I turned 20 — so close, yet so underage.

At 16 you’re a driver, at 18 you’re an adult and at 21 you can finally participate in a world you’ve only seen on TV. Until then, you’re still pretending to take shots out of Gatorade caps. What, did you think you were the only one who did that?

What’s made my plight of being underage so especially unbearable this year is my surplus of 21 and older friends. Countless Vegas trips, wine tasting weekends and birthdays in Pacific Beach have fallen casualty to my very real and very vertical drivers license.

If I had a dollar for every time I was invited to one of these shindigs and then got that invite retracted with a: “Oh that’s right, you’re not 21,” I’d have enough money to buy a quality fake (Not that I would ever do that because it’s extremely illegal and irresponsible … duh).

What’s even more frustrating is the conversation that takes place after my invitation is shamefully retracted.

“Don’t worry, being 21 isn’t even fun,” they said. “I turned 21 and it wasn’t a big deal. Plus drinks are so expensive and I don’t even go out that much.”

This is about the part where they see my facial expression and begin to back away slowly. Of course they don’t think being 21 is a big deal … they’re 21! Their birthday passes and suddenly they’ve forgotten Friday nights at home playing scrabble with younger siblings. They definitely forget ordering off the non-alcoholic specialty drink menu because the drinks kinda look like they have alcohol so maybe people will be tricked into thinking you’re older and therefore way, way, cooler. Sprite might as well be served in a sippy cup with a crazy straw.

With turning 21 I’m actually not excited to get “wasted” and I don’t think I ever will. I’m more excited to see a band I love playing at the Belly Up without being immediately disappointed because I’m too young to get in. Any underage music lover will understand this, especially if they listen to artists who aren’t big enough to play all-ages venues. A few months ago there was the possibility of seeing Vance Joy for 91 cents! Then I looked at the details and saw he was playing at The Soda Bar also known as “no Jenna allowed because she’s a child” bar. Because his career took off shortly after, he’ll be joining Taylor Swift on her arena tour this summer. Great for him. Sucks for me. Why? I’ll have to sell my kidney to afford a ticket knowing I could have seen him for less than a dollar while keeping all my precious organs intact.

Now by this point you’re either saying “Yeah!” loudly in agreement and getting weird looks on campus or totally judging me as you think I’m going to turn 21 this June and become a raging drunk.

The latter is simply not true. I actually don’t plan on spending my big 2-1 in some loud bar downtown being hit on by meatheads, nor do I plan on being hungover for a few days after. I’ll have my fun, order an overly expensive drink (which will be paid for by my 21-year-old boyfriend happy to finally be able to go out with me) and bask in the acceptance of the waiter when they approve my license.

Soon after my birthday I’m sure the newness will wear off and ordering a drink won’t be a novelty. When my unfortunate 20-year-old friends complain about their lack of years on this earth I’ll find myself assuring them that “being 21 isn’t that big of a deal and it gets expensive anyway.” After the words come out of my mouth I’ll realize I have become exactly the of-age person I never liked. In my self-disgust I’ll surely need a drink … but maybe this time I’ll just enjoy a Sprite — crazy straw and all.

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