I’m not having any more birthdays, but it’s not for the reason you may think; that whole age thing where you have to deal with the fact that you need to purchase two boxes of candles to get the correct number.
It’s because the gifts given to me leave much to be desired. Let me just walk you through a birthday celebration of mine from days gone by and I’ll let you decide whether it’s worth getting up for, brushing my teeth for and plucking my eyebrows for. (I’ve invoked the three prepositions at the end of three consecutive phrases rule. Kind of like a negative multiplied by a negative equals a positive.)
I am a firm believer in asking for what you want, because it avoids that nasty little miscommunication thing that happens between spouses, so I provide helpful shopping hints to which my soulmate replies sensitively, “Will that get me off the hook this year?” You can see that he possesses a romantic viewpoint of my birthday. Try to curb your jealousy.
Birthdays are never really a great stepping off point for communication anyway. Witness the question some silly folks out there still ask, “How old are you?” This is not a question to ask any female nine years of age or older. These days I find myself querying back with “How old do I look?” which leads nowhere great either. The classic “lose-lose” situation.
Somewhere in my twenties there was a transition from celebration to obligation, as far as commemorating my birthday. I can’t seem to find a copy of that particular memo in my files that informed me of the change.
I remember as a kid I would wake up on my special day of birth to the delectable smell of my favorite birthday breakfast cooking; things like pancakes, waffles and sausage were on the menu. This was all done before six in the morning by a mother who worked full-time no less, so it was an incredibly special reason that had my mom getting up a full hour before she needed to. In fact, on these occasions I figure she must have gotten up some time around 3:00 a.m. to allow for the ingestion of cigarettes and caffeine in order to psych up for the event. Remember: We’re talking about the 1960’s here.
My plate would usually be piled high with everything I loved to eat and the day was filled with special gifts and greetings coming at me all ding-dong day. My mother made me feel special while my father made me feel insane by asking me every year, “How old are you?” as though he were a favorite uncle who traveled a great deal and just dropped in for the event on an annual basis. (Now that he’s gone I can’t tell you how much I miss answering that question.)
As I opened the gifts from my parents the family joke became, “What did I get you?” from my dad because he didn’t have the slightest idea what was going on, but that was actually true to form with most everything that went on in our household.
This year’s birthday morning found me having coffee with my husband – for which he ground the beans – and I’m waiting for some sort of cue from someone as to when the whole gift-giving, special breakfast-making process will begin. (Hope springs eternal.) A half-hour passes and while I’m enjoying my delightfully robust French blend I decide to ask my celebratory partner when the festivities will be launched to which he replies, “When the kids wake up.”
God forbid that the day should begin when I’m up, not to mention the fact that by the time my merriment begins, based on that criteria, I may be perilously close to the day after my birthday. Coupled with this is the fact that it’s a school/work day and I’m a wee bit concerned about the window of opportunity for frolicking over that new car I’m getting, but I’m hopeful. After all, how long does it take to open up an envelope with keys in it and run down to the garage to check-out the fine European automobile I’ll be driving into work today? Or wait. I wouldn’t be driving into work because my husband probably made arrangements for a day off. He and I will take a road trip, while the kids enjoy their school day. (Man, what was in that cup of coffee?)
I couldn’t stand not knowing what was going to happen. A birthday doesn’t feel like a birthday when it’s feted after the day comes to a close. Finally, the waiting was over, the kids were awake and I was jacked up on caffeine, ready to squeal like a pig on market day – from sheer agony, as it turns out – just like a pig on market day.
Here is an actual list of presents I got: a book, flannel pajamas and a shower curtain. Has the romance mellowed a bit in this relationship? You be the judge. I realize somewhere along the line I had mentioned my desire for a new shower curtain, but I believe I’ve also mentioned that I think baby goats are cute too. One doesn’t wrap one of those up on my birthday and call it a gift, does one?
The shower curtain was the birthday gift equivalent of a blender as a wedding gift. I suspect I would have gotten a blender as a gift, but I had actually gone out and purchased one for myself the month before because I had been desperately concerned it would be my birthday present. Ironic, isn’t it?
That evening my husband did redeem himself by presenting me with a jamoca almond fudge pie sporting a candle in double digit numbers I could live with. Coincidentally, that digit represents the exact number of years he’ll have to hear about getting me a shower curtain for my birthday.