Joe Sargent

I have been 21 for exactly three months and five days.

I spent my birthday in Las Vegas with my four best friends drinking, gambling and not sleeping. Since then, I have attempted to pack 20 years of sobriety into a very short span of time, and I have loved almost every minute of it.

Since coming of age, it is surprising how my life has changed. Now when my friends and I go out to a party, we hang out for a few hours and have a good time. But no matter how good the party someone will inevitably will say, “Why don’t we go to the bars?” And sure enough, that’s where we go.

Or on weeknights when nothing is really going on, someone will say “I’m going down to get beer,” and everyone agrees that sounds like a good idea. Two hours and eight beers later, though I realize it may not have been such a smart idea, the hangover never seems to stop us from doing it again.

I was the last of my close friends to turn 21. I remember so many nights when everyone would leave to go see a band at SLO Brew or enjoy Pint Night at Frog and Peach, and I would be left alone. I love Saturday Night Live, but I would rather be with my friends in a hot over-crowded bar drinking cold over-priced beer.

It’s not all it’s cracked up to be though. I’m going broke from the high prices and I’m losing sleep because of the mid-week drink specials. Every now and then, I’ll even catch myself singing Gwen Stefani’s “Holla’ Back Girl.” (Banana’s B-A-N-A-N-A-S.)

But it’s the little things that I really enjoy about being 21. I enjoy that now when I go out to eat, I can get a delicious beer with my meal. When I’m grocery shopping I can buy a six-pack of exotic beers from Holland, Jamaica or Japan. Or if I walk downtown in a new city and see an interesting new dive, I can go in, check it out and maybe try a new beer.

Being 21 has also opened my eyes to types of alcohol that I never thought would be a regular part of my life, such as wine. You can take a trip with friends to a beautiful country estate and will be given free glasses of wine to sip on. Sure they want you to buy a case, but you don’t have to.

My liver probably hates me, but what can I say? I love bars. If you happen to run into me downtown, buy me a drink.

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