For me, it was probably my 15th birthday party.
ESPNZone had just opened in the Inner Harbor about a month earlier and I wanted absolutely nothing more than to check it out. I convinced my parents to let me have a party there after weeks of haggling.
The agreement came with one significant stipulation. As my parents were by no means wealthy people (although clearly I was more fortunate than others), they informed me I could only bring three friends.
I knew then that the decision I made would easily be the most agonizing of my entire life.
(You probably think I’m being sarcastic. With the gift of hindsight, it’s understandable. But think back to the time you had to make a similar decision. Remember how significant you thought it was? I thought so.)
I was obviously going to bring Brandon, as he and I had been hanging out together almost every day that summer. I had also figured I would take Matt, one of my buddies since first grade. The third choice was by far and away the most difficult. Ryan and Andy were stepbrothers, so how was I going to pick one and not the other? Billy had invited me to his cool birthday party earlier that year, so maybe I owed him. Adam was having a paintball themed birthday later in the month, I definitely didn’t want my decision to jeopardize an invite to his party. And for perhaps the first time in my young life I thought perhaps it was more important to consider inviting a GIRL (Leslie) instead of one of my buddies.
I remember thinking “perhaps I could cheat the system.” I tried convincing my parents I couldn’t invite Ryan without inviting Andy. I tried seeing if they would allow me to invite a fourth if I promised to invite one fewer friend to my 16th birthday. I told them Brandon shouldn’t count against the limit because he was basically living with us that summer anyway. I had hoped to find out someone wouldn’t be able to come anyway because their family already had plans.
I wish I could tell you I remembered who I picked. I don’t. I just remembered how awkward the whole process was.
I’m assuming by this point you clearly see the analogy I’m trying to make between my 15th birthday party and the Baltimore Ravens’ preseason kicking competition. How could you possibly not? I’m laying it on so thick!
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