The 21st birthday is a milestone in every college student's life. A proper initiation into adulthood creates memories that last, give or take, three minutes.

Such was my experience this weekend.

Underage students frequently asked me what it felt like to be 21 and legally permitted to purchase and consume alcoholic beverages. While they asked me this question, they were purchasing and consuming alcoholic beverages.

So, how does one describe this special rite of passage while giving the kids something meaningful to look forward to?

It isn't just about making your wallet thinner by ditching your fake ID (by which you were known as "Biff Webster" from Ohio).

Nor is this occasion about transitioning from being the "moocher" to being the "moochee," or the gaining legal right to eat butter rum flavored chocolates.

No, the true meaning of the big 2-1 is something much more special and unique to the individual. To help illustrate my point, I will share some of my birthday highlights.

Jan. 17, 8 p.m. -- The eve of my birthday. The plan was to hit downtown Athens with my chums at the stroke of midnight. Like Ebenezer Scrooge, I would be visited by three spirits to learn the true meaning of Christmas. Except it was birthday. And it was more than three spirits. And the "spirits" were not the paranormal kind, but the kind ? well, you see where I'm going with this. They still haunted me, but that wasn't until the next morning.

After going out to dinner, we went to a couple of house parties to kill some time. Drag, I know. No one likes parties, but sometimes you have to make sacrifices.

While waiting for the clock to approach midnight, I reflected on my life.

"What will become of me when I'm 21?" I thought. "Do I have to act more mature? Can I still laugh at fart jokes?"

Not about to drown in serious thoughts on such a light occasion, I decided no one could take fart jokes away from me.

11 p.m. -- After two straight hours of contemplating the value of fart jokes, I dropped in on another party before we headed downtown.

Among all the fascinating people I met, one special person deserves an honorable mention. He had a cast on his arm which had (I am not making this up) a bottle opener plastered into it.

"I'm handi-capable," he proclaimed. He wasn't about to let anyone tell him what he couldn't do. God bless that kid.

Jan. 18, 12 a.m. -- Finally the hour had arrived and I was officially 21.

Suddenly, the feeling rushed over me like a waterfall. It felt tingly. The feeling persisted throughout the rest of the debauched night.

So there you have it, boys and girls. That's what it feels like to be "legal."

Finally, the true meaning of the 21st birthday is -- what else? Love.

Don't act so surprised. Love is the meaning of just about everything. All you need to do is rephrase your favorite clichZ.

Here's a few I like that you can have: "all you need is love (and booze)," "love is blind because of booze" and "Love -- Australian for booze."

May your 21st birthday be filled with love, because love conquers all things. Except for booze.

-- Jud Stacer is a Red & Black copy editor.

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