To 21st or not to 21st?

Words by Michelle Andrews.

Let me preface this post by revealing my ultimate, number one, top of the list, extreme, ultra-mega-super-dooper-supreme life-fear (aside from Dr. Seuss… but let’s leave that for another day):


My life fear: I throw a birthday party, and the only guest to show up is my Mother. But let’s be real – Vicky showing up doesn’t count. Mum kinda has to come due to that whole “I’ll love you even if you become a psychopathic axe-murdering gypsy meth dealer” unconditional-love arrangement that was bestowed on her upon my birth. So really it’s me throwing a birthday party, and standing in a room with Mum, both of us with sad party-poppers drooping out of our sad cake-smeared mouths as we sadly bop up and down to a mediocre playlist of old-school Rihanna and Beyonce.

Dear sweet Jesus that mental imagery makes me seize up in a sweaty panic.

The last party I threw was for my 12th birthday. It was utterly traumatic. Let me summarise the tragedy that was in dot-points:

  • Uniquely and ingeniously themed as a ‘Silly String’ party, something which I was incredibly proud of. Reality was that the Silly String cans failed and instead of providing the wonderland of silliness that was promised, they erratically spurt out a cocktail of rainbow coloured slime. What was fantasised as being hours of fabulous Silly String fun ultimately became mere minutes of Silly String disaster, leaving ample time to fill with awkward activities suggested by my dear Mother, such as playing Karaoke and musical chairs.
  • Beloved pet Maltese Shih Tzu with the World’s worst under bite, Max, ran away through the front door which was left open by childhood friend, Danielle. Hours of crying, frantically running around the neighbouring streets, and of course hurling abuse at Danielle ensued before retrieving Max from the local Ritchies Supermarket. (I’m really sorry, Danielle).
  • Freddo Frog Icecream Cake was misleading in that it did not, in fact, have any Freddo Frogs inside. This fact was pointed out by a number of highly disappointed, begrudged twelve year old guests, many of whom left shortly after, each poorer for the experience that was my 12th birthday party.

Basically, the concept of hosting any type of event sounds like a sheer nightmare to me today. Going to other people’s parties? No problem, get me on that guest list and I will be there, ensuring not a single hors-d’oeuvre or slice of cake goes to waste. Throw my own party? I’m sorry, but it’s just not my thing whatsoever. I would quite literally rather light myself on fire and sit through an entire episode of Family Feud hosted by Grant Denyer.


Sorry, Grant Denyer

My mind as a host would sound a lot like this: “Is he having fun? Is this music even good? Like do people want dance music or Top 40, or something less mainstream? Is she having fun? Fuck, is this a good ratio? I’m going to need like ten more boys to make this a good ratio. How many people are even here once you subtract my aunties and cousins? How long can I delay speeches for so that nobody leaves me and it’s just Mum left?”

So, delightful readers, as soon as anyone even mentions my fast-approaching 21st birthday, I feel myself tense up and picture the catastrophe of a 21st that I would throw.

You see, every other year this phobia of mine has not been an issue. Nobody bats an eyelid when you don’t throw a huge soiree for your 14th birthday. You stayed home when you turned 17? No questions asked, friend. Simply went clubbing on your 20th? Fair enough my pal. But when you don’t plan on inviting 100 of your nearest and dearest to come celebrate your 21st? Hold-the-fucking-phone woman, you are most definitely either clinically insane and/or depressed.

WHY? Because YOU SIMPLY MUST have a 21st birthday party. And no, do not ask anyone why this rule exists. I mean, nothing even freaking changes when you turn 21, anyway, but you absolutely most definitely 100% must throw one because NEWSFLASH PEOPLE… YOU ONLY TURN 21 ONCE IN YOUR ENTIRE LIFETIME!

That is completely ground-breaking information, I know. Like, wow. Just W-O-W. This changes everything. Call the Silly String people, and tell them it’s time for Round Two. Tell the family in Canberra and Mullumbimbi to get their asses to Melbourne, it’s freaking party time. Better start stocking up on cider and frozen spring rolls now. This shit is important, you are twenty-fucking-one, and that necessitates a party. Why? Because YOU HAVE TO.

Well, I have decided that no, CRUEL WORLD, screw you and your dumb expectations. I refuse to have a 21st party. My reasons, again, in dot points:

  • Potential risk of going into cardiac arrest prior to party starting
  • The financial cost of providing enough cider, beer, spring rolls and cake for the number of people on the guest list
  • The likelihood of nobody actually coming from said guest list
  • Dealing with resulting surplus of cider, beer, spring rolls (cake would never be an issue)

So there – THAT is my decision. I most likely plan on spending my 21st at home, drinking a concoction of wine and Pepsi Max whilst eating popcorn and watching reruns of The Great British Bake Off. I may go out for drinks, I may not. And that will be completely okay with me. At the end of the day, the people who matter will make me feel all furry and fuzzy inside regardless. And that’s the company I really want to spend my 21st birthday enjoying.