Birthdays blow. And I’m not just talking about candles.

December 10, 2009

The calendar tells me tomorrow is my birthday.

To which I have two replies: “What, again?” and “Meh.”

As the years have flitted by in rapid succession, my birthday has become less and less significant to me. Maybe it’s living so far away from family and thus not being able to share the occasion with those who have been with me on this long journey. Or maybe it’s the lack of funds curtailing the purchase of something so perfunctory as a card (those things are bloody expensive in New Zealand! Actually, so is everything else in this country, come to think about it).

If someone asks how old I am, I routinely reply, “110.” That usually accomplishes two things: It tells the person I’m not going to give a serious (read: actual) answer, and also tends to elicit the response, “You’re looking good for your age.” All us oldies like to hear that.

If birthdays are a poke-in-the-eye reminder of the passing years, December birthdays are a sure indication that God hates you. Ot at least hates the concept of you receiving any decent presents that close to Christmas.

The fact my father and two younger brothers are also December babies gives you an indication of how stretched the family’s gift budget was once the year was into its final hurrah.

One brother, in fact, celebrates his birthday two days before me. It took years to figure out how I could be the oldest when his birthday comes before mine. Once I had that math worked out, I then spent several more years admonishing my parents about the fact they couldn’t stay off the rides at the Carnal Carnival long enough to ensure there was a decent gap between our conceptions.

Brother Number 1 and I eventually settled on celebrating our birthdays together, on the neutral day that conveniently separates us. That way, Mom only had to bake one angel food cake and the surprise of both us receiving socks and underwear (again!) wasn’t ruined for either of us.

The birthdays marking the decades stand out, of course. I was going to be on a six-month trek through Europe when I turned 20 and bid a fond farewell to my beloved teen years. Certainly a birthday marked on another continent doesn’t count at home, right?

But the six-month tour only lasted three weeks. Because I was in love. And a scared little puppy. But mostly because I was in love.

I was part of the generation that liked to bellow, “Never trust anyone over 30.” So you can imagine my dilemma when that birthday struck. Now I can’t even trust myself? Bummer.

Forty? Ah, 40. Viking Woman recruited the Brookswood Secondary cheerleaders to put on a special performance just for me at a surprise party. Part of me was saying, “I hate surprise parties!” The other half was saying, “I love cheerleaders!” So, yeah, mixed emotions on that one.

Fifty was OK, if only because the majority of my siblings decided that, as each of us hit the big five-oh, the others would kick in $50 apiece to mark the event. Which was excellent when it was my turn but not so cool when I was the one digging deep for the cash. Six kids? Seriously? You do know how to say “no,” right, Mom?

I like to think age is just a number on my birth certificate. It does not pay the bills nor does it require cuddling so, for the most part, I ignore it. I ignored disco and it went away, so my strategy obviously works.

They say age is relative and I proved that point when I hosted Teen Scene on Cook Islands Radio. Because of the show’s target audience, I perpetuated the myth of being only 19 years old . And why not? Rarotonga is, after all, one of those tropical islands where time really does stand still.

If all goes as planned, I will return to Raro early next year. I can’t wait. I’ll be a teenager again and be able to shake my thang all night long. Or until I trip over my walker and break a hip.

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2 Responses to “Birthdays blow. And I’m not just talking about candles.”

  1. newtowritinggirl said

    Happy Birthday! I’m torn on anything else to say. My immediate reaction to hearing you’re 110 was to say you’re sounding good for your age (I imagine you’re looking good too but can’t comment on that obviously), but I hate being predictable! You’ll have to settle for Have a nice day! 🙂

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