Saturday, September 17, 2011

Oh joy - another birthday

Last week I became one year older. Actually, I didn't have any choice in the matter. That's the problem with birthdays. It's not like somebody calls you up once per year and asks if you want one. You just get it anyway. It's the gift that keeps on giving, if you get my drift.

This was a particularly interesting year in that unlike most people, I thought I was one year older than I actually was. Don't ask me why or how this occurred but most likely it has to do with not enough fingers and toes with which to calculate and math never was my strong point in school. Most people fix their birthdate to make themselves younger, which is understandable.

Thinking further on my miscalculation, it's interesting how nobody picked up on it. Perhaps they too didn't have enough fingers or toes or it was easier to take me at my word. I mean, who lies about being older other than teenagers? Right? On the brink of becoming a teenager, we used to make ourselves a year older than we were because - I dunno - it seemed like a cool idea. Or when asked one's age, we would always supply a fraction as in: "oh I'm twelve and a half." As if the half made all the difference. There was a mysterious appeal in wanting to always be older but as many of us (not all) age, we start to go backwards. Let's just say I wouldn't want all the candles on the cake for safety reasons and leave it at that.

Pyschologically, this has adversely affected me. The error was discovered by my husband, who picked up on the miscalculation during a pre-birthday conversation. Stunned at the discovery I jotted down the year I was born and the present year, did the math and sure enough it all added up. I'm one year younger than I believed myself to be! So the issue now is - how do I celebrate the missing year and what to tell people who ask my age. Most likely they'll say: "but weren't you that last year?" I mean, what does one answer?

Lots of well-known people have commented about birthdays and getting older.
- "Last week the candle factory burned down. Everyone just stood around and sang ‘Happy Birthday’." (Stephen Wright)

- “Thanks to modern medical advances such as antibiotics, nasal spray, and Diet Coke, it has become routine for people in the civilized world to pass the age of 40, sometimes more than once.” (Dave Barry)

- “Well, birthdays are merely symbolic of how another year has gone by and how little we've grown. No matter how desperate we are that someday a better self will emerge, with each flicker of the candles on the cake, we know it's not to be, that for the rest of our sad, wretched pathetic lives, this is who we areto the bitter end. Inevitably, irrevocably; happy birthday? No such thing.” (Jerry Seinfeld)

- "You know you're getting old when you get that one candle on the cake. It's like, "See if you can blow this out." (Jerry Seinfeld)

- "A friend never defends a husband who gets his wife an electric skillet for her birthday."
Erma Bombeck

For those who are trivial-y-minded, here is some trivial birthday facts in case you want to impress somebody with - well - birthday facts:

- More people celebrate their birthdays in August than in any other month (about 9% of all people). The two other months that rate high for birthdays are July and September.

- Close to 2 billion Birthday Cards are sent each year in the U.S. alone, accounting for nearly 58 percent of all cards sent.

- The world's largest birthday cake was created in 1989 for the 100th Birthday of the city of Fort Payne, Alabama. The cake weighed 128,238 pounds, 8 oz. and used 16,209 pounds of icing.

- The most famous rendition of "Happy Birthday" is when Marilyn Monroe sang to "Happy Birthday, Mr President" to President John F. Kennedy at Madison Square Garden on 19 May 1962.

- Paul McCartney's Birth Certificate was auctioned in March 1997, for US $84,146. It is believed to be the world's most expensive Birth Certificate.

- The Sultan of Brunei hosted the world's most expensive Birthday Party to celebrate his 50th Birthday on 13 July, 1996. The cost was a whopping US $27.2 million. Three concerts featuring Michael Jackson costs US $16 million of the total amounts.

- Anne Frank's world famous diary was given to her as a present for her 13th birthday.

- William Shakespeare's died on his 52nd birthday: 23 April 1616.

- A recent survey suggests that more people are born on October 5 in the United States than any other day. October 5 holds a not-so-surprising significance, as conception would have fallen on New Year's Eve.

- The least common birth date in the U.S. is May 22nd.

Thanks to modern technology and advances, there are new ways in which one is reminded of one's birthday. Like many people I'm a "Facebook-er" and this has given new meaning to the word "friends." Cyber friends want to mark the the day that they/we were born and to this end send birthday greetings. Really - I'm appreciative when people take the time to note my birthday especially since most don't realize that I've short-changed myself by a year. I've been dining in restaurants where people suddenly break out into a rousing chorus of Happy Birthday To You and I cringe. Not for me.

So now the question is which birthday should I celebrate and how many candles should be placed on the cake. My philosophy is keep them guessing.

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