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I turn 41 today. That means 20 years ago I was celebrating my 21st birthday.

Despite two decades passing by, I actually recall this one quite well. I had a roommate, Scott, whose 21st birthday had been a few days earlier. So we celebrated by visiting the famed Stone Balloon in Newark, Delaware and doing shots. Lots and lots and lots of shots. I actually sorta liked shots, in that they were quick and impactful and (relatively) tasty—depending on the genre. Truth be told, I also liked how they: A) Decimated all inhibitions; B) Made me believe I looked like Tom Cruise; C. Turned all women into Halle Berry.

What I didn’t like, however, was the inevitable post-multiple-shots decaying. It would begin with burping. A strange, disconcerting grumbling in my stomach always followed. Then, I’d excuse myself, find the nearest toilet and vomit my brains out.

On this night, however, I was already outside the bar when judgement day came upon me. I stood in a paved parking lot and puked repeatedly and forcefully into a puddle. It was, to be blunt, awful.

It’s funny, actually, how we always look back upon college with such glowing vision. Yes, it was an interesting time of discovery, and yes, there were some outstanding moments. Late-night basketball outside the Christiana Towers. Writing for The Review. Hooking up in the basement of Pi Lambda Phi, where my pal was a member. On and on and on—warm memories, funny memories. In seven hours, however, I’ll be waking up alongside my wife, with my two beautiful children bellowing, “Happy birthday, Daddy!”

I don’t love the sound of “41.”

But it sure beats vomiting.

Jeff Pearlman is a writer.