So I recently had my 46th birthday, which, as my dad loves to remind me, is on the same day as Hitler’s. As a child, I remember thinking that 46 was more of an age assigned to elderly Galapagos tortoises or giant redwood tress-certainly not humans. It’s hard to fathom that I’m now older than most professional athletes. I guess I can check that off my list of things to worry about. No more pressure there.
Birthday’s are weird things to celebrate. After all, the person receiving all of the benefits of the celebration didn’t really do anything, other than putting another person through an immense amount of discomfort for nine months, followed by several hours of of drug-induced agony-and that’s just the father. And if we are all honest, we would admit that the actual delivery isn’t pretty-lots of crying, blood, and other stuff not appropriate for dinner conversation. Sure, it’s “beautiful” and all, but it’s a sight that’ll make you want to poke out your mind’s eye after the fact.
I spent most of my 46th birthday travelling the rain-slicked highway from Houston to Longview, giving me plenty of time to plan my mid-life crisis. I can’t afford a Harley or sports car, I’m not really interested in a collection of tattoos, and a new obsession with golfing, fishing, hunting, four-wheeler riding, (or any other physical activity) sounds exhausting. Maybe I’ll try marathon snoozing or competitive eating. Wait, I already do those things. (I’m not really a competitive eater, but I sometimes pretend I am, especially when cake is involved – or cookies, or pie, or chips and salsa.)
Speaking of sweets, my family and friends apparently wanted to give me diabetes for my birthday. My wife and kids gave me Payday and Almond Joy candy bars the size of twin mattresses, my mother made me a cake and brownies, my colleagues presented me with another cake at work, and my brother sent me a 50-gallon drum of Garret caramel popcorn. Maybe it’s a ploy to get us all on that “My 600-lb Life” show.
And then there’s the singing involved with Birthdays. Not to be a grouch, although I am, but doesn’t “The Birthday Song” get tiresome? “Happy Birthday to you” is repeated three times! It’s as if it’s being sung to a person with short-term memory loss. When I’m 90, I’m sure I’ll appreciate it more. In the meantime, though, how about a festive rendition of “Another One Bites the Dust?” I always liked that one-and it’s not repetitive at all.
Once the singing is mercifully finished comes the humiliation of blowing out the candles, or, in my case, trying to blow out the candles. At the party my colleagues gave me this year, as usual, I left a few burning. I always worry that after my failure, someone will think I’m ill, or something. “Somebody get this guy an iron lung! Man, he really is old.” How weird is it to blow on a cake, anyway? It goes against the logic of trying to get the cake in my mouth. Not only that, but added to the pressure of trying to blow out candles, I worry about keeping saliva out of the equation and contaminating the cake for all of the party guests. “Oh, Yum! I’ll have that piece. Yea, the one with the least amount of sputum on it.”
Anyway, my birthday was five days ago, and I’m still happily receiving birthday wishes and gifts. I am also truly grateful that everyone thought of me enough to fill in that blank on Facebook when it reminded you that the weirdo from high school or the relative whose lineage you still question was having a birthday. I’ll remember it always, or at least until I finish my third piece of cake-in the last hour.