Today, I turn 36. It is either the last stand of my mid-30′s or not. At this age, it doesn’t really matter. This is no landmark birthday, it’s just another birthday.
I don’t have a particular affection for my birthday. Yes, I do get rather excited about the idea of my birthday, but as for the day itself, not so much. I’ve had a few memorable birthdays in the past, but not because of just how great they were, just because of specific moments that left a lasting memory.
I remember the night before my 10th birthday, because of a conversation I had about this being, in all likelihood, the last time I would see a digit be added to my age. I didn’t think I’d make it to 100. I still don’t.
The Summer that I turned 14, I wanted to cut the grass on the riding lawnmower (about a four hour affair) because that’s the kind of excitement all 14-year-olds want, right? After I had done it, and had taken a shower, my dad drove me up to a gas station and let me buy about $10 of baseball cards … after I got an unopened box of Upper Deck baseball cards for my birthday. Johnny Gill was on the radio. I remember it like it was yesterday. That is still one of my favorite days of all-time.
My 21th birthday fell on a Sunday, at a time when that meant I had to wait until Monday to buy booze. I guess I could have gone out to a bar and waited until I turned 21 after midnight – ah-la Troy’s character in Community – but I ended up staying at my then-girlfriends place. Naturally, we got in a huge fight which ruined both the day before and my actual birthday. But I did eat chicken fingers. That’s something.
On my 22nd birthday, I worked a half-day. After I got off work, I headed to an A&P grocery store and an ABC liquor store. The women who ID’d me at both places said, “Today’s your birthday! Happy Birthday!”
Those would be the only two non-family members to do so that day. I sat in the door of my apartment, drinking Tom Collins, smoking Camel Lights and listening to Social Distortion for a couple of hours. I was miserable, yet remember it fondly.
For six years, me and a friend threw Elvis Is Dead parties that served and an unofficial birthday party for both of us. The parties were great – several topped 500 people – and provided some great memories and a cult following of the t-shirts we made each year.
On my 30th birthday, the same friend and I decided to celebrate by eating at the playground at a McDonalds and go bowling with some friends. Totally, right?
And last year, I turned 35 and celebrated the first birthday as being a dad.
So far today, I’ve gotten up at 4AM, had breakfast with the wife and kid at Waffle House, got the oil changed in my car, gone to Home Depot, cut my yard, taken a shower, had some lunch and typed this. Hey, at least I’m not at work.
I was thinking earlier this week that once you have a kid, the real people who are excited about birthdays are the parents. Yes, I know a lot of people go over-the-top with their kids birthday parties and what-not, but as you get older, I’m beginning to think that birthdays should be used to thank our parents. I’m just beginning to understand what it takes; and now I have new respect for parents everywhere.
So at 5:55AM, I was on the phone with my mom. That’s when I was born, 36 years ago. We always try to talk at that time. (It’s a lot easier now that I’m up so early.) So yes, it is a happy birthday to me.
But really, it is a huge, thank you to my mom.
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