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What I’m trying to say is, if bowling is your only option for a bangin’ Friday night, it might be better to stay home.

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My friends Meredith and Desiree are a year younger than me. The three of us met in our French class at Mesa College. We all love hanging out, but are, time and time again, at a loss for what to do when we get together.

After numerous texts back and forth, I feel like I’m gonna give up.

“What do you wanna do?” I’ll say.

“I don’t know, what do you wanna do?” Meredith will respond.

“I don’t know, whatever sounds good,” Desiree will say.

And then we’re back to square one: bowling alley, hookah bar, movie theater. It’s exhausting, being perpetually frustrated.

Until one week, Desiree has an idea.

“Why don’t you guys come over to my house, we’ll cook dinner and play some board games.”

It sounds fun. A nice change. It fuels a brilliant idea.

Every Thursday, the three of us get together. We make dinner, we play board games, we drink wine. We call it Classy Thursday, and we have a blast, so I guess not all hope for under-21-year-olds is lost.

Meredith and Desiree have a French class at Mesa that goes late, so we don’t end up getting together until 8:30 or 9:00 p.m. The evening starts off with a trip to the grocery store for dinner fixings and a couple bottles of Two-Buck Chuck, the pièce de résistance of our night. It’s what makes our Thursdays so classy. This is where it’s useful to have an older brother around to enhance the evening. He’s over 21, but buying alcohol for us isn’t the only reason we keep him around. He’s a fun guy.

Our first Classy Thursday, we cook steak in the oven and go through two bottles of Sutter Home White Zinfandel (retail price: $3.49 a bottle…like I said, classy). The next logical step is board games.

Desiree has a game called Last Word, one I’ve never heard of before. The objective of Last Word, as with many board games, is to be the first to get to the finish line. There is a category given, a die with letters on it, and a timer. When a category card is displayed and a letter of the alphabet rolled, you have until the timer runs out to name as many words that begin with that letter as you can. The winner gets to advance a space.

It is the four of us, each against the other. Every wino for her/him self.

This game gets loud. The Two-Buck Chuck doesn’t help the volume control. It’s an exciting shouting match, with Meredith triumphantly emerging as the victor.

After Meredith wins the game, we turn to Wii sports. Bowling manages to creep its way in as well.

In between dinner, board games, and Wii, we migrate to the piano. We play songs, we sing, and we laugh.

Classy Thursdays also takes field trips. We go to a show at Soma. Another night, it’s Forever Fondue in La Jolla. But no matter what, somehow, we have more fun sitting around the house playing board games and being silly. Who needs nightlife?

At the same time, what am I supposed to do with the six other days?

∗ ∗ ∗

I Google things to do in San Diego when you’re underage. Hookah bars — been there, done that. Bowling. Laser tag. Why are the 18- to 20-year-olds pigeonholed into nothingness? Why hasn’t someone come up with something to entertain the masses? Sometimes people recommend you trot on down to Tijuana for a night. Ridiculous. Aren’t they cutting people’s heads off down there?

Underage dating proves to be a bit of a difficulty as well. I like my men like I like my friends, older and more mature. I don’t mean to sound bitchy, but I can’t see spending my evenings with a guy who laughs at fart jokes on South Park in between beer-bong hits.

Most dates are forced into the categories of midday coffee-shop dates, nighttime sitting-outside-of-coffee-shop dates, or any-hour-of-the-day (you guessed it) bowling or, worse, mini-golf at Boomers, just down the street from Kearny Mesa Bowl. Coffee-shop dates are nice, innocent, and very much neutral territory, which is good for a first date, but after awhile, there’s not much romance in sitting on a wicker chair outside of Coffee Bean in Mission Valley. Bowling is cute for a date or two, and mini-golf is all right, too. But let’s try and put a little thought into it. There’s nothing sexy about faux-Western-town facades and wooden cutouts of cowboys watching you suck at the ten-hole course. The whole thing makes me lose faith in dating, period.

I meet up with this guy, Billy (not his real name), at Boomer’s. I can’t find the parking lot and spend ten minutes driving around looking for it. I walk up, pretty embarrassed, 15 minutes late. It’s a Wednesday night. I just got off work and was ready to go home and go to bed, but, as usual, boys always come first.

I’m not sure how I felt about Billy. We met online and just to fulfill every cliché about internet dating, he is shorter than he said, he looks nothing like his picture, and trying to have a conversation with this kid is like pulling teeth.

He pays for golf (a wallet-busting eight bucks for the two of us), and I do the talking…all the talking.

“So, what’s your favorite band?” I ask, hoping this question will kick-start a conversation about his favorite song, favorite type of music, favorite radio station, favorite eight-track tape — anything.

“I don’t have a favorite band,” he says flatly. “I don’t really like music.”

How can you not like music?

“Okay…” I search my brain for another question. “Favorite movie?”

“Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.”

That’s when I know it’s going to be a long night.

We don’t talk much for the remaining eight holes of the mini–golf course. Billy tells me about his pet snake and how he loves feeding live mice to it and how he just dropped out of school because he didn’t really see his education “taking” him anywhere.

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Comments

Evelyn June 22, 2011 @ 3:57 p.m.

take a hike (literally). or go to belo. or deco's or satin lounge (which was kind of lame the one time i went).

or rent a car now (and pay crazy extra fees) and take a road trip and realize that the journey getting there is also part of the trip and sometimes better than the destination. (seriously--last yr my friend and i drove 5 hrs from the bay area to eureka to take pictures of a house and buy beer--crazy times man) and even though it sounds horribly cliche (because it is), it's also very true.

there are plenty of things to do in san diego, regardless of age or money or transportation issues.

also, freshman yr in school (and really, for any freshman in school-at loma) going to target was the highlight of many a friday night, and that was with taking a shuttle.

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Evelyn June 22, 2011 @ 4:17 p.m.

oh also, i'd say don't go online to look for dates. in my experience, there's a reason guys your age are online trolling and not outside seeking dates, as exemplified by mr. personality in your article.

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JG June 24, 2011 @ 4:47 p.m.

Growing up in San Diego I can't ever recall being at a loss for something to do. 18-20 was all about coffee shops and all age venues, which gratefully San Diego has in abundance. I saw Radiohead, Oasis and Smashing Pumpkins amongst other shows at all age venues. I fondly recall cafes and coffee shops being my introduction into our local music scene. Yes I also remember nights of frustration when missing bands that would play The Casbah, but it's not as if there wasn't always alternatives for live music I could get out to. I even found myself on occasion hanging out with teenagers at The Epicenter well into my late 20s because they had some good bands come through there.

Is TNT still happening? I don't get out much anymore, but that was the official weekend kick start back when. San Diego has an abundance of art, theater and music and there's always an opening or special event happening somewhere, most with no ID and cheap if not free booze.

Don't dismiss our neighbors south of the border either. It's not all about Avenida Revolución, the T.J. kids like to dance and get down too and they don't go to those gringo clubs. Get over your irrational fear, grab someone who knows the area and find the spots the locals hit up, which are by far the best.

But if you're really itching to get out and about and paint the town red, but still shy of 21, then start dating an older guy who frequents these places. I know, sounds creepy and sketchy, but I used to get my 20 year girlfriend into just about every venue, bar, club in town no questions asked. "oh, she's with you, ok".

Mostly though, just like children to teenagers to adults, don't be in too much of a rush to 'get somewhere'. The journey is the reward and one day you will be nostalgic for those Classy Thursdays.

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Rayrandall11 June 24, 2011 @ 7:44 p.m.

Dear Hayley Rafner, My name is Ray Randall I am from a part of a bad part of Southern California. I'm 19 years of age and i don't drink. You guys have more shows with open age events in that part of Cali than over here. I catch the Metro link every summer to go see shows and to visit with my aunt and uncle and help them around the house. My family has a problem with alcohol so my lifestyle had to change so I could be more responsible for my actions. I've been living on my own now for 5 months and paying bills at 16 is not a uncommon thing in my house hold. What im trying to say is enjoy being this young. Hollywood actors and musicians wish they could look as young as we are, and all of the businesses in our country are marketing to our age group 18-20. I dont have to get laid or wasted or high to have a good time out by the coast or in general. 18-20 may be awkward but the media, people of old age, and of younger ages worship us. We are the "Innovators of Society" we just have to make that first step to change the game and enjoy the simple pleasures of a young life. Sincerely Ray Randall

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Missionaccomplished June 24, 2011 @ 9:54 p.m.

Oooops! When I first saw it, I thought the cover story was about the "Slut Walk" protest coming to San Diego!

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Missionaccomplished June 24, 2011 @ 9:55 p.m.

I'll take that one, and that one and . . . that one there . . .

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natej June 26, 2011 @ 5:24 p.m.

This story was a testament to the horrible effects of pop culture on our youth, and the vapid aspirations it inspires. Our youth long to be stuffed into a tiny dresses and uncomfortable shoes, to spend hard earned money getting into snooty bars to be "seen" and hit on by people about as deep as the content of this article.

There are a plethora of things to do in San Diego for people of all ages. We live in one of the most all-age venue rich cities in America, not to mention the innumerable natural wonders within 2 hours by car(beaches, deserts, mountains, lakes), and weather that allows people to do anything they wish year round.

I fear this generation is going to spend the majority of their lives first longing for adulthood (21), then trying to remain that age forever. If your goal in life is to get into a club legally, you may want to reevaluate your life and set the bar (no pun intended) a little higher.

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Robert Johnston June 28, 2011 @ 4:54 p.m.

Enjoy life while you can, mija! Take it from me--hitting 21 isn't all that it's cracked up to be. Nor is getting into a bar "legit" for the first time.

Trying to grow up before your time? You will--but it's never that pleasant! --LPR

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Twister June 28, 2011 @ 6:57 p.m.

I well-remember what it was like being treated like a second-class citizen; getting booted out by my stepfather at age 18 and having to work, pay rent, work, go to college, work, and pay rent. Most of the bad stuff that has happened to me has been good for me, but I sure didn't think so at the time!

You're getting a good start with writing, but the club scene is a fraud, a way for the leeches of this world to pick your pocket. You're finding your way--your own way. You don't need to conform--least of all to your "peer" group.

Hang out with some older people, people you really would like to be with. Believe me, they will welcome you and accept you (but if they don't, just keep moving, because there are good-fits and bad fits in this world, like the shoes). When it comes to boys and men, don't let cool fool. Ask older women. (They're not all right about their advice, but their experiences, their stories, can inform, translated by you, for you.

And yes, take that hike. Push yourself right in there, and be in charge--in charge of YOURSELF. Don't try to be anybody else--that's being nothing. Don't manipulate and don't be manipulated.

To be (you), or not to be, that is still the question.

And don't take up arms against a sea of troubles, evade them, avoid them, and get past them as fast as you can. Yes, this life sometimes seems to be a vale of tears--but OH! when it hits those highs, particularly those Rocky Mountain kind of highs, it's WORTH all the tears.

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Visduh June 29, 2011 @ 7:46 p.m.

Hayley, you may wish you were older, but soon--very soon--you will wish that you were young(er) again, and there's no turning back the clock. Actually it sounds as if you have a fairly decent social life, especially for a young woman who gets off work at the obscene hour of 10 pm. Those bars you really, really want to enjoy should be a disappointment to you. Good things seldom come your way in a bar; plenty of bad things can happen in them, and even worse things start in them. You spend too much hard-earned money on overpriced drinks, you get hit on by obnoxious drunks, and if you do hook up with some guy, will likely wish you hadn't ever seen him.

BTW, I'm old enough to be your grandfather, and I do understand what you're feeling. Just don't think that some bar and a bunch of "friends" are the best you can hope for in life. There's more out there and you can find it.

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sublimeade July 14, 2011 @ 5:32 a.m.

Funny that she laughs at her teenage self for wanting to be one of the older girls, yet she's doing the same thing now .. pining for the day when she'll get into bars. She'll be laughing at her 20 year old self someday. Take the advice of the older gents and ladies, live in the moment.

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