Birthdays

Yesterday was my birthday. Birthdays are kind of weird.

It's not that I don't enjoy my birthday-- it's just that birthdays have become a little weird.

To begin with, birthdays are such a ridiculously big deal when you're a little kid that they're now completely anti-climactic. And because I still associate the concept of "It's my birthday!" with being 7, it feels like the kind of thing that just should have stopped at some point, like the Easter Bunny or summer camp or Halloween (oh wait, I forgot-- for some twisted reason, Halloween never stops). But "It's my birthday!" doesn't really stop. It just evolves into this bizarre adult version.

So now, every year when November 12th rolls around and everyone is smiling and saying "Happy Birthday" all day, I kind of feel like they're treating me like a 7-year-old.

Which is not to say I don't enjoy the "Happy Birthdays." It's just that the whole thing has become a little weird.

And the weirdness doesn't stop there. There's also the thing where everyone has to be really nice to you all day. Which is just kind of awkward. And the unspoken fact is that when it's your birthday, you really have no choice but to be really nice to everyone else. Because what would be more awkward than being a dick to someone on your birthday. How do they respond to that? You'd be putting them in a hideous situation. So it's a day when you and the world must be immensely friendly to each other all day.

Then there's the whole "everyone who cares about you is supposed to contact you at some point during the day, preferably during the first half of the day" thing. This one stresses me out. At some point American culture decided that it's a huge dick move not to contact someone you care about on their birthday. As a result, I have experienced a handful of "Oh SHIT" moments when I realized that someone I was definitely supposed to call had a birthday yesterday. So I have mixed feelings when people forget my birthday. Half of me is thrilled because it means I can forget theirs and it's okay. And half of me is hurt because America says I should be hurt.

While we're here, there are two types of people in my life. People whose birthdays are ingrained in my brain for some reason, and people whose, for some reason, are not. The ingrained birthdays I just know. It's just a fact that I know and that I'll never forget. With these birthdays, whenever I see or hear those dates, the accompanying birthday people pop into my head. So I never forget to call them on their birthday.

The others are a different story. I not only don't know these people's birthdays-- but I will never know them, no matter how many times I hear the date. Sometimes I know the month, but when someone is in the second category, I simply will never know their exact birthday. And it has little to do with how close someone is to me-- it's pretty arbitrary.

Likewise, there are some people in my life who absolutely know my birthday. Others absolutely do not. And I'm pretty sure I know who's who.

Yesterday, everyone in my extended family (or someone representing them) contacted me. Every girl I'm remotely close to contacted me. About 2/3 of my close guy friends contacted me. This is all expected. Likewise, the birthdays of close girl friends and family members are an immensely stressful part of life (guys don't tend to give as much of a crap).

And there's more. There's Facebook. Facebook is a weird place in general, but it's especially bizarre on your birthday. People from all stretches of life pop up to say Happy Birthday. This is kind of fun because it's a ridiculously random group of people and there's no awkward interaction involved. Just a little hello from a bunch of random humans in (or not in) your life.

Then there are these other formalities, one of which is that you are obligated to "do something" for your birthday. People get very depressed and it's just awkward in general if you tell them you're "not doing anything for your birthday." American culture simply doesn't allow it. When I was 10, I was entirely okay with everyone spending half of their day celebrating me and my birthday. Now, it just feels kind of wrong. The actual event always ends up being fun-- but setting it up is a nightmare. One of the best perks of having a girlfriend or wife is that you can make her set it all up. But planning your own birthday party is pretty icky. The times when this is necessary, I prefer to keep it real simple-- either a low-key dinner with good friends or a bar night with whomever. Last year I went with the bar night and threw up on my shirt. This year, I opted for the dinner.

Finally, there are the aging crises. It's early, but I've already had a few of these.

Until I hit 22, turning a year older was always a purely positive thing (although turning 20 freaked me out a little bit). But 22 is the first time you're maybe not that jazzed to turn that next year older. 22 is like, "This isn't exciting, I'm kind of just moving into the rest of my life." And when you hit 22, officially no one gives a shit about you anymore. You're not cute, your lack of direction isn't cute, your general life failings are no longer cute. They're upsetting.

25 was another mini-crisis for me. You're no longer "coming up from 20," you're now "on your way down to 30."

And now I'm 27. This one's weird too.

First of all, I might suddenly be in my "late 20's." Or there's a chance I'm still in my mid-20's. It's unclear. Is an 87 a B or a B+?

Secondly, 27 is kind of a full adult. There's no other way around it.

When you're 27, it's really not okay to sneak down to better seats at a baseball game and get caught. At 23, it's fine-- just a young dude trying to scrounge around for better seats. At 27, it's like, "Why is that full-grown adult man with a job and a mortgage and kids sneaking into anything? In fact, why is he even at this game? He should be earning money to support his family of 5. And selecting preschools."

A 23-year-old can live in some shithole apartment and eat shit for dinner. No problem. A 27-year-old? He can do that, but he's definitely not that psyched about it (he's still allowed to drive a shitbox for a couple more years though).

A 23-year-old can date a girl he's definitely not going to marry. If a 27-year-old is doing that, something's a little off.

I think this is half the reason people in their mid-20's often head back to school. It slows this shit down for a little. Going back to school is free reign to be retarded for a few more years without self-loathing.

The main people who have these crises tend to be oldest siblings who are old for their grade (me). When you have an older sibling, a new age is softened a bit because you've been exposed to it through your sibling. And when you're born anywhere from March to September, by the time you turn the new age you're used to all your friends being that age so it's no big deal. But as the oldest sibling, born in November, I'm always completely blindsided by the next age.

And quite clearly, the crises don't stop at 27. (45-year-olds reading this are like, "Hey maybe you probably want to shut the hell up about your crisis at hitting 27.")

Anyway, in the old days, November 13th was the worst day of the year. 364 days until the next birthday.

Now-- I think I can handle that.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday ! (:
Everyone I know forgets my birthday, it's very upseting, most people only remember 02/14 as Valentines Day , my mom forgot about it once when she got her first boyfriend after my dad ..

Leonard said...

I turned 27 last month and a co-worker said something that made me want to kill him. He's 24 and he said that he would probably be dead by the time he was my age because I was old. Time to go lay on my hot pad...

Anonymous said...

Birthday celebrations should now be
retired exactly how they 'retired'
people themselves on Logan's Run.

People given the right of choice of
which birthday to so celebrate the
execution of marking birthdays and
the form that takes.

Everyone except Madonna ....

Anonymous said...

I'm 62.

Jodie said...

Oh SHIZ! I didn't know it was your birthday!

Anyway, hope you had a happy one. Many peoples' birthdays stop being happy as they get older..

Oh, and don't let "aging" get you down. As long as you're cool, it doesn't matter. :)

Eve said...

I remember getting the blues when I turned 20. Then I woke up and I was 30. Time flies by, so we might as well enjoy the gifts and good cheer. So happy birthday, kid.

Erika said...

I bet Grandma's birthday is one you NEVER forget...just sort if etched into your mind yet I can recall zero times in my 31 years of life that I have gotten a call on my birthday...in case you didn't know it's the same as hers! I suppose I'll forgive you because I think in your 27 yrs it is only on Facebook that I've actually wished you a happy birthday too. I guess as you get older I'm reminded how old I am. Then I think of my other cousins and I'm reminded that on that side of the family I'm the youngest not the second oldest and I feel so much better! Happy birthday Mr. Urban! :)

Word of Mouse said...

It saddens me that you are slightly younger than me and WAY more successful than me, but happy birthday anyway! I love reading your blog - you have a great writing style. I occasionally read the sleep study post when I'm having a bad day - the part about the overweight sheep not being able to clear the fence always cheers me right up.

Mary said...

Ha ha ha - I'm one of your Facebook "friends" who you don't know. I log in to Facebook quite often and it gives me little birthday update reminders.

I knew the day before that your birthday would be the next day and I thought it might be funny or ironic if I posted on your wall "Happy Birthday". But I decided that it might instead be stalker-ish. So I didn't. Now I feel bad that I didn't . . .

So, Happy Belated Birthday