Surviving a milestone: The 21st birthday

By Abigail Keefe
April 7, 2005


Opening his eyes suddenly became a chore the following morning for the brand-new 21-year-old, Tim. The potent stench from his body and parched mouth nearly made him gag. Rolling over in agony, Tim wrapped his arm around his girlfriend, Ava, who stood by his side the whole night.

“Thank God she was there,” Tim said as he slowly nursed a bottle of lemon-lime Gatorade. The 5’6″ Ava was the main crutch for Tim’s large-frame throughout the hectic experience. She was also the driving force behind Tim even being able to function the next morning.

“I had to yell at a few of the guys who wouldn’t stop buying you shots,” Ava said. It was obvious to see how worried she was by the tone in her voice and the remnants of what used to be her fingernails.

Celebrating his 21st birthday was a much-anticipated event for the Northeast Philadelphia native. Tim’s friends from school, home and work gathered together and found joy in the one simple task of drowning their buddy, Tim, in as much alcohol as possible.

Tim was uncertain of how many shots he did by the end of the escapade, but thinking about that would have only made him sick. “I don’t remember anything after my friends from work got there, which was at 11:30 p.m.,” Tim said. “Blacking-out,” or losing recollection of what happened the night before, is common place for excessive drinking in general.

“Yea, the scary part is that he might have done at least five more shots of liquor after his friends arrived,” Ava said. Tim entered a state of intoxication where he lost complete knowledge of his actions. Continued drinking in this condition is risky and could be potentially fatal.

In an interview with Tim before his night started, he showed signs of excitement slightly tainted by fear. Stories of people getting their stomachs pumped due to too much alcohol consumption were very common incidents in Tim’s neighborhood. Also, Tim was fully aware that death can even came into play for 21st birthday party celebrations.

“I know what can happen to you if you aren’t careful,” Tim said.

The startling truth is that many people turning 21are aware of the dangers, yet they still celebrate without any concern for the possible outcome.

Jason Reinhardt and Bradley McCue are two tragic examples of the risk put forth at 21st birthday celebrations. Due to the over consumption of alcohol, the fatalities of these two young men have recently received widespread attention. Their deaths, however, have spawned a variety of awareness campaigns geared toward educating teens approaching that inevitable age.

The campaigns have been successful in educating youths, but there are still some 300 deaths annually due to alcohol poisoning according to the Task Force of the National Advisory Council on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Only a small percentage of these deaths, however, are the result of 21st birthday celebrations. State legislatures still find it imperative that college students, especially, will be subjected to new laws barring alcohol at certain events and limiting consumption in order to stop possible casualties.

Tim made it through his special night and probably will not think twice about it. He did not, however, get through the night without performing quite an embarrassing act. His girlfriend, Ava, hesitantly revealed a moment Tim did not want to share.

It turns out that when Tim passed-out at the end of the night, he was not finished partying. Instead, he got out of bed in the middle of the night and left a brown, squishy reminder of his night in the trashcan of his cramped bedroom. Tim had no clue of the occurrence but surely was forced to sleep on the floor by his steadfast girlfriend, Ava.

“What, did the dog come in here in the middle of the night?” Tim asked Ava the following morning. “No, Tim, that was from you,” she said.

Posted to the web by Shawn Rice

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Abigail Keefe

Abigail Keefe is a Cabrini College student studying communications, enjoying her time in Radnor, Pennsylvania. Abbie loves working for the school newspaper, the Loquitur, and is also passionate about everything that the communication field has to offer.

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