21 or 22 Birthday shots - really?
Shots, shots and more shots. 21 to be exact. Or is it 22? Is there an extra one for good luck? Would an extra shot of liquor actually be good luck - or the final nail in your coffin? I'm not too sure since this isn't exactly my area of expertise.

Drinking and doing shots has long been a part of American culture on one's 21st birthday. And, since turning 21 is a rite of passage (to drinking) in the states, Americans get into celebrating it in a big way (hence the 21, or 22, shots).

As you may have guessed, I'm not much of a drinker. More than one fuzzy navel (heavy on the orange juice) and I'm laid out on the floor. Trust me, I tried it once.

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Anyway, when my fellow Gaelic Girls found out that my 21st birthday was fast approaching and I had no plans, they went into full party-planning mode. I was secretly excited that they had taken such an interest in me, but was just as secretly worried about the drinking. I already knew how crazy American parties were - I couldn't imagine what happened here in Ireland!

The girls got a bunch of our friends together and planned the whole night - dinner at ‘Fire’ restaurant in the city (thank you Catelyn), followed by drinks (a la Maggie). Dinner was amazing...I'll have to write a follow-up about the food in Ireland. Who says it's bland?

Anyway, the pub that followed was not what I expected. Everyone was very dressed up and Maggie had decorated the entire bar with balloons, streamers, and confetti all over the place! Seriously, it was like New Year's Eve and every girl was dressed as though she was on her way to the most glamorous party of the decade! She had also arranged for a cake which was in the shape of a key. I have no idea what this symbolizes and couldn't seem to get a straight answer out of anyone. Any thoughts, dear readers?

I was anxiously awaiting the stream of shots that was surely coming my way, only they never came. (Thank God!). I whispered this to one of our Irish friends. She was appalled. "21 shots?! You'll get 21 of something, but it won't be shots."

I had no idea what she meant until a good while later when the barman loudly announced to all that it was my 21st birthday and asked me to sit in a chair in the center of the room. All of a sudden, a line of men appeared in front of me (including the fat, bald barman) and they proceeded to kiss me, on the lips, one by one. 21 to be exact, and one more for good luck! I’m still in a bit of shock, but thinking about those Irish men dancing up to me with puckered lips and great big smiles, I’m left wondering if it was my birthday or theirs! Great Irish tradition!