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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    18 again: An Irish birthday in America

    The party is relatively innocuous. The guests are sipping their drinks out of red cups and coffee mugs while relentless, deafening bass emits from the apartments lining the dewy lawn.

    What seems like a stereotypical Friday-night party is actually an Irish 21st birthday celebration in America.

    After about a six-month hiatus from drinking legally, Irish exchange students Sylvia Farrelly and Heather Mc Daid are poised to rejoin the ranks of bar hoppers and club crawlers.

    “”I’ve been able to drink legally for two-and-a-half years and been told I’m not allowed to drink again,”” said Farrelly, a sociology and geography major. “”I wouldn’t have this much excitement (about turning 21) if I wasn’t in America.””

    Mc Daid, an anthropology major, grew up in the Irish countryside, a primarily farming community. Though the legal drinking age there is 18, Mc Daid was immersed in a bar-oriented culture since her mid-teens. She had a trying transition into a sober America before her 21st birthday the previous Wednesday.

    “”My liver is back talking to me again, which I enjoy,”” Mc Daid said. “”‘Cause I didn’t drink as much, but it’s been horrible, absolutely horrific.””

    To celebrate the women’s recent drinking reinstatement, Farrelly and Mc Daid packed their night with both American and Irish traditions — beginning with a “”little bit of Vegas.””

    The birthday girls sat on folding chairs amid a circle of onlookers, when four shirtless men emerged from a nearby apartment. Two were dressed in true Chippendales’ fashion, complete with bowties, while the other two “”entertainers”” were merely underwear-clad, including one in a pair of skimpy Superman briefs and Clark Kent glasses. Amid the catcalls and accusations of “”shrinkage”” because of the frigid night, the Englishman, American and two Irishmen began their brief show.

    Aside from partaking in America’s stereotypical fondness for male dancers, both women have indulged in all the best our country has to offer.

    “”I came over because I wanted to drink from red cups, go to football games and be horrifically, stereotypically American,”” Mc Daid said.

    The most shocking thing about American culture for Mc Daid: “”Frat parties — as in, they’re real.””

    “”We had red cups, and we played beer pong.””

    “”And flip cup!”” Farrelly said. “”Two things we had never played before.””

    One of the most difficult adjustments to the norms of American nightlife was the sexualized dancing, according to the women.

    “”I was like, ‘I’m in America, I’m going to try it. I’ll do the bump and grind thing,'”” Farrelly said. “”I just felt so awkward.””

    “”Leave something to the imagination.””

    Mc Daid’s first experience with American dancing was similarly uncomfortable.

    “”It’s really awkward. I’d just seen his face and I was like, ‘I can’t remember your face, but I could probably give you, like, inches,'”” Mc Daid joked. “”That’s just too close.””

    Farrelly said she also found it strange that friends “”bump and grind”” together, because in Ireland the whole dance style is reserved for teens.

    “”(In Ireland), you go out on a dance floor and just have fun and do whatever you think you want to do because everyone’s so drunk nobody cares,”” Farrelly said. “”Nobody’s going to be like, ‘Oh, look at that one.'””

    The prominent Irish tradition at the party involved Farrelly and Mc Daid receiving 21 kisses for their 21st birthday.  

    The first 20 kisses are merely cordial, while “”the 21st kiss has to be a proper kiss,”” Mc Daid explained.  

    “”I’m on a mission,”” Farrelly said. “”I know who is giving me my 21st kiss. He doesn’t know it, though.””  

    Farrelly wouldn’t divulge the identity of her impending smoocher until the liplock, though both women critiqued American men.

    “”Honestly, can’t stand American men,”” Mc Daid said.

    “”I make fun of them, and they’re very sensitive,”” Farrelly said, “”and it’s kind of funny. They’re just not as much fun (as Irish men).  

    “”The Irish mentality is, though, the better you can make fun of someone, the more respect you get.””

    Both women agreed that Irish men have the upper hand in personalities, but American men have other strengths.

    “”(Irish men) are ugly, but they’re so much fun,”” Farrelly said. “”American men are way better looking.””

    Mc Daid seconded Farrelly’s assessment: “”So much better looking here, definitely you guys win on looks. Irishmen have no hope.””

    The night culminated in a trip to Dirtbag’s for a quintessentially American 21st birthday tradition: the power hour. Though neither Mc Daid nor birthday girl Farrelly chose to attempt 21 shots in the two-hour span, they did drink an amount worthy of their heritage.

    “”There’s a stereotype that Irish people drink a lot,”” Farrelly said, “”and then when I came here I realized that we actually do.

    “”We drink to excess.””

    Farrelly said she was surprised by Americans’ drinking habits.

    “”Lads don’t tend to drink that much, but girls get absolutely fucked after three drinks,”” Farrelly said. “”That’s really unheard of, because I’m not really a good drinker in Ireland, I’m just normal. While here, I’m classed as a good drinker.””

    Though, Farrelly conceded that she drinks “”everything.””

    “”If I’m drunk enough, I’ll drink petrol,”” Farrelly said.

    Farrelly and Mc Daid’s birthday bash melded Irish and American traditions into a celebration fit for both cultures, and ended in a fittingly pan-cultural ritual: an escort home.


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