When summer comes, everyone is either planning a trip out of the country or a fun holiday to Bahamas, Hawaii name them. But, for my friend John, summer was the best time to hold a party at their home and have some friends come over. Last summer it happened to be his birthday month and he decided to celebrate it in style.
You see John is the kind of people who cannot withdraw from something until it is done no matter what. Last summer holiday, his dad planned to visit the famous Hawaii and excitement was building. But for John, his mind was planning the party and this included having a venue, drinks (in this case alcohol), girls and his friends. Earlier on, he had hinted the idea to me but, being brought up in a family where partying was for the rich and spoilt kids, I opposed the idea will full force, though it had been long since I went partying and have fun.
John had told me that his parents were going for a trip though he was to be left behind to man the house. He gladly accepted knowing that he will have the house all by himself and the venue was sorted. After much thought, I agreed to the idea and invitation were made to all the friends. Being a holiday, most of our age mates are idle, so they will agree on anything as long as it is fun.
I remember the party was to be held on a Friday. So on that date, as usual I left a message home that I will be spending the night at John’s. My parents had no problem with that since this was not the first time. As planned, we made the arrangement, alcohol was in plenty, and girls were to arrivestarting evening accompanied by their counterparts. Evening came and everything was set, music system check, drinks check, girls check, food check, lighting check so, may the birthday party begin.
The party started at seven o’clock with guests streaming in every minute dressed in spectacular clothes to commemorate the night. I was very excited to see everyone especially John who was now sipping his drink while dancing to the rhythm of the music. By ten o’clock John’s house was packed and everyone was busy.Some drinking, other socializing while others danced to the rhythm of the loud music. It was approaching twelve o’clock and I can confirm that about 99% of those who had attended were drunk and some lamenting and “talking in tongues.” I would call it that because no one could understand what the other person was saying.
Few minutes to one and I locked the door to contain the noise in the house. The temperatures were rising while more and more people joined the dancefloor as alcohol had taken the better part of their system. At about one o’clock, I had a knock at the door and for a moment I became sober. Before getting the door, I dashed towards the balcony where John was chatting with some girls and dragged him away. “Are you expecting anybody else at this hour?” I asked. John said no but he could feel the nervousness in my voice. I told him that there was someone knocking the door and shouting his name. I also added that according to how the voice was calling his name, it seemed familiar. John shunned me off and told me may be it was one of his friends calling.
“Let’s go check it out,” he said. I followed him. By now the knocking had graduated into banging and that’s where I sensed danger. John got the door knob and quickly opened the door and the next thing I see is John rolling on the ground after a thunderous slap. I moved back a few steps and kept some distance to allow the intruder to come in. Alas! His father emerged from the front door so furious that I thought he could swallow everyone in the room. Where did he come from? I thought he was on an 8 hour flight to Hawaii? What could have happened? These were some of the questions running through my mind. John had now become sober. Just looking at his father’s face, you needed no notice that the party was over. All over a sudden, everyone was sober and running for their lives. John was given a thorough beating. If I could describe it right, I could call it a dogs beating. I have never forgotten that day since I could just stare at John as he received blows for all of us. Of course I also went home but I learnt later that the flight had been counseled due to bad weather.
Today, I always remind John of the mighty door slap and I can help but laugh at how the whole situation came down. For your information, John was grounded for a month with no TV or any electronic device. Quite traumatizing.
Birthdays can often be a huge deal for children: themed parties, elaborate cakes, lots of presents, even goody bags. But at some point, do we outgrow celebrating our birthday? Or is it still fun to celebrate ourselves once a year with friends and family?
How do you celebrate your birthday?
In her satirical Sunday Review essay “It’s My Birthday! Is That O.K.?,” Alison Zeidman wonders if there is any room for a birthday get-together with friends in our increasingly informal, social-media-obsessed culture. Or is that asking for too much?
It’s that time of year again … my birthday! It would mean the world to me if you all could be there to celebrate. I know you’re all busy with your own lives though, so if you can’t, no pressure. Seriously — please do not feel obligated.
WHEN: I’m thinking Tuesday, March 22. That’s the actual date of my birthday, but more important, it’s a weekday. I know I can’t expect my birthday party to compete with anybody’s weekend, right? Or your Wednesdays. Or Thursdays. Or Fridays. Maybe Mondays, I guess. Hmm … should I switch it to a Monday? Never mind. Let’s just leave it on the 22nd — just in case I’m wrong and one of you is, like, the anti-Garfield and just loves Mondays!
As far as time, I’m thinking … 7:30? Right? I figure that’s late enough for everybody to get there after work, but not so late that you’ll start to resent me for keeping you out. LOL. (But not really LOL — I mean, I get it, you have to get home, watch some TV, scroll through Facebook on your phone, stay up for another two hours … I totally get it. Don’t worry.)
WHERE: I was thinking we could go to that place where Jen had her birthday dinner, the one with those amazing truffle fries. Remember the truffle fries?! I wasn’t invited, so I don’t — I’ve just heard a lot of people talking about them.
It’s in Williamsburg, which I also figured would be good because I know a lot of us are living in that general part of Brooklyn these days. Except for Tom. Tom, you just moved to Park Slope, right? That’s kind of out of the way for me, but would you be more likely to come if dinner were in your neighborhood? And everybody else — would you be more likely to come if Tom’s coming?
Students: Read the entire Opinion essay, then answer the questions below:
— How do you celebrate your birthday?
— Was your birthday a big deal when you were younger? Do you have a favorite party or celebration that you remember? Is it still a big deal for you?
— Is celebrating our birthdays as we get older a fun way to bring our community of family and friends together? Is it just a good excuse for a party? Is it a healthy way to celebrate ourselves? Or is it a narcissistic exercise?
— What do you think of Ms. Zeidman’s satirical piece? What do you think is her message? Does it ring true? In what ways?
Students 13 and older are invited to comment below. All comments are moderated by Learning Network staff members, but please keep in mind that once your comment is accepted, it will be made public.
Henry Xu on our Student Council suggested this Opinion essay.
Questions about issues in the news for students 13 and older.