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If 16 Is Sweet, 30’s Definitely Dirty

Well, it looks like things are finally starting to come together on the party planning front.

I had to make some tough decisions regarding the guest list, I had to coax some folks, but it’s going down.

Me and about 12 of my closest friends (and some significant others who I love too) will go to Medieval Times and have a rockin, joustin, wench-tippin good time.

The last time I had an official birthday party was my sweet 16. I’ve taken a poll involving people who live in other regions, and it seems no one is more obsessed with the sweet 16 than girls from Long Island in the late 90s.

I was going to parties a few times a month for about four years.

The Sweet 16 was huge amongst our set. Whether you had it in a hotel ballroom or in a backyard, you had to have one. Period. Even when my father offered me a really cheap car or the Sweet 16, without hesitation, I chose the party.

I don’t regret it.

I still remember my champagne colored dress (My mom wanted white. We compromised.),  and the tape on my fingers from being jammed during a basketball game the previous day. I remember having a bartender serving up Shirley Temples all night, and I remember the damn dj my cousin found who didn’t have the right equipment and my best friend going home to get his own equipment to get the party started. In the meantime, the catering hall owner, played the last cd left behind from the last party. “Say you, Say Me.”  By Lionel Ritchie. God, I was embarrassed as my guests were arriving.

The colors were hunter green and champagne. The venue was a lovely spot over looking the water (we ended up having our junior prom there the following year).

I remember Will Smith’s “Gettin Jiggy With It.” I remember doing the dance to break the ice and get everyone else to dance too. Wow.

I also remember that being February, it was cold. And report cards just came out, so some of my friends couldn’t go because they were on punishment because their grades weren’t up to par.

Despite all that, it was fabulous. There was Hawaiian chicken, baked ziti (do those even go together?) and I really can’t believe I remember all of this, but we had a ball.

My dad, a masterful sheet metal craftsman, made a candle holder of my name to hold all 16 candles. The night was magic. My older sister had flown into town for the event. All of the people I loved were there and totally happy. A friend of my dad’s made special chocolate lollipops for the occasion to go in the goodie bags.

My mother was a picture of health and looked gorgeous and my family in my mind was perfect back then. That’s what makes the memory even more precious. The next year was going to set off a lot of painful things for my mother and for the rest of my family, that we are still struggling with today.

The other Long Island tradition was the Sweet 16 book. It was a specific hard cover book that was handmade at the local flea market. The cover consisted of mirrors of a particular color that spelled out sweet 16 and had your name and birthday written on it. It held pics from the event and served as a guest book where all your friends would sign and tell jokes about being able to drive. This was a must have for the pre-Facebook generation.

I still have that book and I do look at it around my birthday to laugh. I’m almost tempted to ask if someone could go to the flea market and make me a “dirty 30” book just for kicks.

I think I’m starting to get those same butterflies like I did as a teenage girl, on the brink of independence.

This time, there will be alcohol.

This time, I have my own place (afterpartay).

Ironically, it won’t be as “fancy” as the last party. My goal, as I stated in another blog is to be just the opposite.

This time poor grades and punishment will not prevent my guests from showing up.

Instead of a fancy dress, I will be wearing a cute tee shirt that says “82” and some jeans.

This time, I’m even more appreciative of the people in my life.

And this time, I know just how quickly moments like these end, so I’m going to drink it all in. Seriously. I already bought a 30 necklace with a shot glass attached a la Mardi Gras…

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