This past weekend it was my turn to dive into the thirty-year-old pool (Epsom salts included).  As noted in a previous post, The Wife and I have made ourselves regulars on the 30th birthday party circuit of late and thus I figured I’d enjoy this occasion in the relative obscurity of my obscure relatives and we headed north to celebrate Birthday Weekend in style.

I capitalize “Birthday Weekend” as it’s practically an official holiday in my world.  My sister’s birthday is February 24th, and in the next seventeen days my Mom, my niece, my dog, and I all celebrate our entrance onto the planet.  There’s an awkward story my Dad is happy share to random passersby, taxi drivers, and waiters at restaurants we frequent, about how if you do the math, he and my Mom used to go camping every year in early June and to make a long story short there was more than one tent pitched on those trips.  That’s my Dad for you. This year just so happened to be a milestone event as my Mom celebrated her (cough), my Niece her first, and my 30th all in one fell swoop.

Our day started on Saturday morning in New Glarus, WI home of your favorite and mine… the New Glarus Brewing Company, makers of Spotted Cow beer.  I don’t want to go all Peter King on you with microbrewnerdness or anything, but if you haven’t indulged in the fine creations produced here then you’re doing yourself a disservice.  Spotted Cow is my bread and butter but the Honey Bock scratches me where I itch and the Moon Man will whet a whistle with the best of them.  The town of New Glarus itself is literally a Swiss hamlet set in rural southwest Wisconsin.  Interesting? – yes.  A good place to go antiquing? – yes.  A little creepy? – damn straight.  However with your brewery receipt you get a free beer at any bar in town which is a nice touch.  The Glarner Stube – aka ‘The Living Room of New Glarus’ – also makes a mean prime rib sandwich.

Once our stomachs were full of fried cheese and hops, leaving us bloated and a little buzzed, the next logical step was to drive another 40 miles to Madison.   Now this trip was planned several weeks in advance so we really had no idea that Scott Walker and the Republicans in the state were going to be kind enough to gather 85,000 of our favorite Union members (from farmers to librarians) for a surprise party.  Scott, first class effort all the way.  From the bottom of my heart I’d like to thank you on behalf of myself and my family for doing this.  It was totally unexpected.  It’s obvious the citizens of Wisconsin love you – like this guy – or these fine folks

The point of this blog is not to get all political or anything on you but who doesn’t appreciate a good protest?  Jesse Jackson, that’s who, as we saw him speak and then bolt out of town in a black Escalade.  When it comes to camping out on lawns, making cheap but clever signs, and chanting, you can’t beat the Madisonites.  As we wove through the crowd the consensus chant of choice went as follows:

Speaker: Show me what democracy looks like

85,000 people: This is what democracy looks like!

That’s just freakin’ awesome.  Store that in the memory banks for future use.

Hours later our crew found our way to one of my favorite destinations in the Midwest –  the Essen Haus – where the polka is live, the wait staff is in lederhosen, and the beer is served in boots.  For the uninitiated, the game is simple, you drink and when full flick the glass then pass, and if the person you passed it to finishes the last drop then you buy the next round.  Before you know it boots are circulating the table, stories are being told, sausage is being consumed, and good times are had by all.  Even my Grandmother, who is well into her eighties, was taking the occasional pull for the glass footwear.  For not having an ounce of German blood between us, we danced the polka as though we were natives of the Rhineland.  And as I finished the first of what would be several boots ensuring my brother-in-law was on the hook for the next, what words did I opt to shout across the restaurant?  If you guessed THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE! Then you’re catching on quicker than most.  Did I mention this was prior to 7pm?

By 10pm, my nieces had to head to bed and thus family began to disappear up to their hotel rooms. The Wife and I headed out to hit the town and sing karaoke, eat crazy pizza, and cause additional mayhem.  Pretty much a standard Saturday night.  The next morning as we convened for breakfast (damn you Spring forward daylight savings) I felt every bit of thirty.  Quite frankly I felt like a hot mess for the better part of the next 48 hours.  It was a long, uneventful drive home with a trunk full of micro brew beer and half eaten cake keeping the air lingering of the party that was. 

This is the part of the movie of my life where the narrator provides some insightful voiceover talking about sunrise, sunset, and all that crap but I was too damn hungover to be reflective.  My goal was just to not swerve into oncoming traffic – which I proudly achieved by the way (1 for 1 in goal achievement as a thirty year old).  Here we are two days later and I still don’t have any monumental life altering perspectives given my passing through the proverbial looking glass but I guess that’s a good thing.  Life goes on.  You can’t pick or plan for the events that will change you so it’s probably best to treat each day as a new opportunity and take it from there.  Thirties – I’m here and I’m ready for you. 

On Monday The Wife and I were up in the 300 level at the United Center cheering the Hawks to victory over the Sharks and I received a call from my sister saying that my oldest niece came home with a birthday card she had made for me that had a big boot drawn on it and the message alludes to how great beer is.  That card is reportedly on its way to my house.  Once it arrives I have a feeling I’ll know exactly what democracy looks like…