In the US, turning 21 is a right of passage. The official last hurdle to jump through, the last notch in the belt between you and sweet adulthood. Seeing that I recently turned 21 and how Eugene truly does a college student right, I figured it would only be right for me to share a bit of the story that got me to where I am today.
College is no joke. It’s tough, confusing and a challenge. Anybody who has been on the quarter system knows that the demands of class can bring you to tears in the library, to a state pure agony. In the state school apparatus, the demands of higher education and stress can only be met with one thing, copious amounts of partying. Throughout the years, I did the repetitive college tango, the rhythm of that defines both extremes. The student and the rage monster, the avid learner and the nighttime deviant.
While the partying is an important thing to manage while away at school, the one thing that lingers over any individual in college is the light at the end of the adult tunnel. The Bars and all the glory they hold; your 21st birthday and the greatness that comes with it.
Now I understand that everyone does their 21er a bit different but the way my friends and brothers sent me off into the sunset was just so right. Since this is the big birthday that everyone celebrates and remembers (or not), it feels like bar mitzvah season when it gets in full swing. Each time your friend reaches the milestone, we do the same song and dance as person before, shepherding the youthful birthday-er into all the benefits of adulthood. An awesome generational right of passage, with the old showing the new what their lineage did before them.
Eugene itself is known for having a crazy bar scene as far as college towns go, with five main places to go all within a mile from each other.
This leads to one epic night, filled with good times and many, many drinks.
As your chaperones weave you through the maze that is the Eugene bar scene, you get your first glimpse of everything that you have been missing, everything that the house party just can’t live up to.
For my friends and I, we gear up with a pregame party that ends at 12. Everyone gathers around a celebrates your big night with you before you send it to the only place left to go. When the clock strikes twelve, your 21er crew walks you over to you first destination.
Your night starts at Fathoms, a small neon lit bar tucked under a pizza place. Fathoms is known for having the cheapest drinks in town and a double happy hour. Fathom’s starts the festivities off with a bang as your friends send drinks flying your way because the price is very right. Fathom’s starts to get packed right around midnight on weekends but is hit or miss on weekdays. Luckily for me, I turned the epic number 21 on a Saturday, so the bars were far from a disappointment. We always go with a Tic-Tac, a drop shot composed of orange juice and vodka or a four horseman for the friends we are really trying to mess with, a shot with 4 types of whiskey.
After you have had your fill at fathoms, a cup of water and possibly a slice of cheap pizza you head over Taylor’s. Taylor’s is a Eugene staple, a major part of any Ducks college experience. Although Taylor’s seems tame enough during the day, things really get going as it turns into a pseudo-club around ten. Your buddies guide you through the mobs of turnt college students attacking the bar, dancing on tables and causing a ruckus, until you find the spot where you catch a breath for a minute. They buy you a few more drinks, my favorite is the Wisconsin Lunch Box, a drop shot of Amaretto with cherry or even the famed blowjob shot, you can guess what that looks like. Taylor’s is actually a mess and can be hard to navigate. You can get distracted! It is imperative to keep composure and continue to focus on the mission of making all five bars. It’s hard not to want to dance the night away but there is business to take care of.
After you shimmy your ways out of Taylor’s head over to webfoot get your free drink, the notorious Mariota Punch, and kick back for a minute.Webfoot is the only other place to dance in the campus area so there will be plenty of nonsense there as well. Some people hate it, others say its the best place to be on campus. All I know is that it is definitely a place to be on cinco de mayo. I disgress.
After webfoot you head to Rennie’s for an obligatory sit and a delightfully drunk plate of bacon cheese tots. So good, so right, so bad for you. It seems that the best drunk food is always some fried nonsense served up with ranch. Rennie’s is the go to stopover point for the weary bar goer and they also give you a free Rennie’s Lemonade. Very tasty….
Lastly, you have to close Max’s, there is simply no way around it. Max’s is a bit farther away from campus than all the other bars but a staple for people staying out past 1:30. As you stumble into Max’s reaching the final frontier, you will be met with possibly the most people you have ever seen stuffed into a bar. Moving in Maxes is a no go and the patio is a must. Your friends will make sure that you make it through the night here but not before staying for Sweet Caroline and hearing the bells ring for last call at 2:25.
As you wake up the next day, hungover, still in you clothes from last night, possibly confused where your wallet, keys, entire life went, you realize that you are in fact ready for everything that life has in store for you. You jumped into the fire and came out a new man on the other end. There was no better place to do it than Eugene and no people better to do it with than your boys. It was an experience I won’t soon forget.