In a week, I turn 43.
(If you’re looking to read about sex, may I suggest you bail out now.)
Now it’s not like I’ve turned 40, 30 or some Godforsaken landmark birthday like (gasp) 50. Indeed, 43 seems like such an odd number. In fact, it is an odd number (well, it isn’t even). It’s even a prime number (and will be the last one until I turn 47, check out Wikipedia if you doubt me).
How to celebrate or even acknowledge such a passing.
It seems that my birthdays were destined for doom. In my college freshman year, I happened to be a part of a group forced to take classes together — some sort of academic experiment in the mid-1980s. Since we knew each other so well, we launched a tradition of celebrating each birthday together. By the time my annual anniversary of passing through a vagina came around, my classmate decided to punch things up with a practical joke and pretend to forget my birthday and instead launch a “surprise” upon me.
I guess it didn’t exactly work out. Each of my friends thought someone else would spring the proverbial trap and assure my arrival at the pre-appointed time and place. Since everyone thought it someone else’s duty, they indulged in the quickest method to inebriation as possible — grain alcohol. This was backwoods Georgia. By the time my brilliant friends deduced that the birthday boy had not yet arrived, everyone was sufficiently drunk enough not to drive.
And by this point in the evening, I found the joke not so funny. I sat in my dorm room, alone, with a melting ice cream cake from Dairy Queen sent from my parents. Since none of my friends were in their dorm rooms (and this time predated cell phones) I could find few people with whom to share the cake.
In other words, someone neglected to invited me to my own surprise birthday party.
Subsequent birthday parties have gone similarly.
Once, my boyfriend at the time suggested we have a few friends over. I found that acceptable and, as per usual, I alone planned and prepared the menu with one exception. Why oh why do I date culinary challenged men?
We all enjoyed a delicious meal together and were having a good time when my boyfriend stormed downstairs to the crowd, crossed his arms and looked at me. The room fell silent:
“So,” he said with utmost seriousness. “What did you make for dessert?”
The tone in his voice was his scolding way of letting me know “I caught you in yet another of your fuck-ups.” He relished each of these moments. As I look back now, I know we were done, but that’s another story for another blog.
I turned and looked at him matter-of-factually and said simply. “Nothing. I did not plan on preparing my own birthday cake.”
If the room were silent before, the air now was sucked out of it and now only a vacuum of nothingness remained as he stared in shock, knowing for once he did not stand on moral high ground. One of his friends helped him from the room to the car to the closest 24-hour grocery store to purchase something crappy that resembled a cake of some sort. As I recall, it was an ice cream cake. It seems that is the tradition on my worst of birthday memories.
This one might as well be one as well. For the weekend following is Mother’s Day — the first one since my Mother’s passing. And my Mother’s passing plays a significant role in the less than stellar experience this birthday will bring.
We all get to make conscious choices but timing isn’t always our choice as to when it’s best to strike. As was the case last year and has been this year. Last year, a conflict within my family put me on the outs, as I sought to protect the health of the more fragile.
This year, the choice is less clear, but I’ve made a choice nonetheless that will likely leave me without a companion to indulge in some of my more hedonistic pleasures that does not include an ice cream cake. So I likely will spend Saturday evening alone or, if I do go out, without someone I can trust to have my back. I won’t cut loose like I desire.
And for all the birthday wishes of cash and gifts, I still have one that will likely go unfulfilled. Porn star, where for art thou, porn star…