Nothing new at 19

Kelsey Wibbing
Kelsey Wibbing

I turn nineteen this week. Anyone who hears that immediately asks me where I will be going to celebrate that night, and no one’s expecting me to say the name of a restaurant or that I have the party room booked at the local bowling alley or laser-tag joint—they’re waiting to hear which bar I’ve chosen.

It’s assumed I will be going out, drinking copious amounts of alcohol bought for me by my friends and stumbling home late at night to face my disapproving parents—because I highly doubt I will still be standing after midnight. I’m not saying that won’t be the situation; I’m entirely aware of my impending fate and I know it probably won’t end well the next morning.

It’s a good thing that while I’m stuck at home in London, Ontario, I have many places where this can be accomplished. The rumour is that while Kingston is known for having the most restaurants per capita, London’s famous for having more bars per capita than any other city in Canada.

I have only one question: why am I even excited for this? Yes, I will be legally permitted to purchase and consume alcohol for the first time in Ontario, but I just spent the past eight months in residence; drinking’s nothing new to me.

So this is my official confession: Mom and Dad, I’m not as innocent as you might think. Some nights I’ve returned to my room, jumped on top of my sleeping roommates, and passed out. Unfortunately, I’ve woken up at six in the morning wedged between my bed and the heater, dehydrated and sweating like a person in a commercial for a sports drink. I admit I’ve had my share of sloppy nights and I’m sure there are more to come, with my birthday probably being the next occasion to embarrass myself as I have done so well in the past.

Although my past experiences with alcohol won’t hinder me from celebrating my birthday as any normal nineteen-year-old would, I know there won’t be any novelties, like drinking or going out to a bar for the first

time, because I’ve already done that. I have no choice but to accept this reality.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is, come September another set of first-years are going to come barrelling onto campus, eager not just for the high-quality education and respectable degrees that Queen’s is known for, but also for the easy access to alcohol.

Let’s face it: No matter how hard the residence staff try, it’s likely they won’t prevent underage drinking from taking place. I just hope these first-years realize that, when they turn nineteen, they’ll be looking at their big day just as I am now and they won’t have anything new to look forward to either.

As for me, my nineteenth birthday will be nothing special. It will be the passing of yet another year, another notch on my belt, another candle on the cake. I will, as always, be accepting presents, cash, gift certificates—and non-perishable goods to carry me through the year.

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