Friday, April 22, 2005

(buh) Earth Day

It's Earth Day, everybody. It also happens to be my birthday. That makes for some awkward moments around the office.

"Hey, we're collecting for a gift for the Earth, we're thinking maybe a gift certificate? Or something? You wanna kick in?"

"Okay, everybody is bringing in something for a potluck for the Earth during lunch tomorrow. I'm assigning you potato salad. Don't get the kind with mayonnaise, the Earth hates that kind. No, Trish is already bringing cupcakes, you should have asked me sooner."

"We're all going out for beers with the Earth after work - it's Earth Day! Why do you have all these birthday cards on your desk? Is it somebody's birthday?"

It's a little hard to compete with The Earth, so I just go with it.

Actually, I've always had pretty great birthdays, even though I might not have been the world's most agreeable birthday boy. One year - I'm thinking this was my eighth birthday, could be ninth - I'm sure I embarrassed the hell out of my parents when I ignored all my party guests in favor of reading the TV Guide.

If it was my eighth birthday, then it would have been this issue:

If it was my ninth birthday, then I might have been reading this:

Or, more tellingly, I could have been reading the previous week's issue, with Cher on the cover:

In any case, I was engrossed in my usual activity of absorbing information directly into my cerebral cortex. Parties? Bah!

My mother always made creative cakes for our birthdays: armed with cake mix, her trusty hand mixer (which I still owned until just a couple of years ago), various pans and food coloring, she made cakes in the shape of just about anything. One year she made a cake for my brother in the shape of a baseball hat, baking the cake in a mixing bowl and going from there.

I don't remember what the cake was like at my eighth-or-ninth birthday. Hey - I was reading the TV Guide.

A few birthdays stand out from the others - one year Mr. Ex managed to completely surprise me, which is no easy feat. We were laying around, not doing much of anything. "So, do you wanna go and eat, maybe?" he said. Sure, why not. Maybe we should walk over to the Barking Dog, our favorite restaurant. Yeah, sure. Whatever.

When we got to the restaurant, I was annoyed because there was a group of people already sitting at our favorite table. How dare they. But then, they all took the menus down from in front of their faces, and lo and behold, it was a gang of my friends that Mr. Ex had miraculously rounded up. I was astounded at how smoothly he had gotten me there - what if I had said I wasn't hungry? Oh, wait. I never say I'm not hungry. Now I see.

Mr. Ex also surprised me on my thirtieth birthday, although not in person. He sent our mutual friend, Angela, bearing an enormous bouquet of black balloons. A few years earlier, I had given Mr. Ex a small celebration for his thirtieth birthday: we were in a motel room in El Paso, which I suppose is depressing enough. I decorated the room with black streamers and balloons (but I did manage to score his favorite snack foods and favorite ice cream - Baskin & Robbins daquiri ice.) The topper was a card that read, "So, it's your birthday? Well, I'll be..." and then on the inside "...younger than you for the rest of our lives." Charming, charming. Yes, who wouldn't want a card like that on his birthday? So I should have expected the black balloons as my just punishment. They were delightful. I have pictures of Angela and I romping with them. They lasted about a week or so, floating on my apartment ceiling, until they gradually withered and deflated and sank to the floor. A perfect metaphor.

Now, of course, Mr. Ex can rest secure in the knowledge that David loses no opportunity to remind me that he will always be younger than me. So karma is biting me on the butt. Go me!

For my birthdays in my thirties (this is my last one, in case you were wondering) I always tried to do something I'd never done before. There were a few birthdays in a row which I spent quite happily alone, going on a mini-adventure. One year I hopped on a bus to Atlantic City and stayed overnight at Caesar's Palace, completely on a whim. I went exploring that night and found a gay bar; when I walked in, a man with a shaved head, wearing makeup and squeezed into a tiger-print miniskirt, was singing "I Did It My Way." Now, that's a happy birthday.

Other birthdays I just chose a section of New York I didn't know that well, and wandered through the streets, seeing where fate would take me. It was always interesting. Being born in April, my birthday is almost always a nice spring day, and there's nothing better than exploring New York on a beautiful spring day.

When I was doing my time at International BrandCorp, I was usually one of the major organizers of other people's office birthday parties. We happened to have a lot of Aries people in the office, so by the time we got to the end of April, people were burned out on birthdays: accordingly, mine would usually pass without much of a to-do. I actually preferred it that way, as it made it easier for me to slip out after a half-day and go have an adventure.

Besides trying to do something new, I don't have many birthday rituals. I usually buy the Post, the Daily News and Newsday to see what my horoscope says, and sometimes save the little "If Today Is Your Birthday..." section of the horoscope. Occasionally I've gotten my tarot cards or my palm read. I talk to my mother and my sister and my best friends on the phone; I try to put aside some time for reflection.

And sometimes, there's cake. Well, if the Earth hasn't hogged the biggest piece with the icing flowers on it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday! And take comfort: a) you are going to be younger than the Earth for the rest of your life and b) being young is no big achievement, look at the idiots who manage it


2:48 AM  
Blogger jwer said...

Happy (buh)Earth Day!

You can also take comfort in the fact that David routinely lies about his age, and was in fact a toddler when dinosaurs last roamed the earth; you know, like Linda and Campbell...

5:22 AM  
Blogger Hanuman1960 said...

Happy Birthday!

I hope that David and Goblin Foo make it special for you!!!!!

5:48 AM  
Blogger Sherry said...

Happy birthday!! I'll just pretend that the party Dan and I are throwing tonight was really in your honour :)

7:24 AM  
Blogger Jen said...

Happy birthday! Maybe someone will reinact "The Poseidon Adventure" for you. Or maybe they will just splash you with water.

9:21 AM  
Blogger Crash said...

Happy birthday!

Normally, I'd try to come up with something clever to say, but it's Friday and my brain is a little fried.

10:29 AM  
Blogger Broadsheet said...

Happy Birthday! For my 30th, my coworkers filled my cubicle with black balloons. To the TOP. Once I unearthed them, I discovered that they had taken a skeleton from the lab, put it in a wheelchair, attached an IV and oxygen to it, and dressed it in a T-shirt (nicely inflated by two baloons to resemble moi's figure) on it with my picture. Nice.....

And jwer? bleh.

1:44 PM  
Blogger Zenchick said...

wishing you a year of presence, peace, and joy.

2:13 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

Happy Birthday, from me, who stinks and forgot about the party because today is also my Dad's birthday (who is older than you) and because all I have thought of this week is Fairie Festival and, um, work (a little). I owe you chocolate!


6:29 PM  
Anonymous Hannah said...

Belated happy birthday! Hoping your day was wonderful and your year will be even better.

9:32 PM  
Blogger Rindy said...

When I turned 30, I got a special congratulatory telegram from President Taft. That was nice. But no balloons, as balloons hadn't been invented yet.

And darn right, Mom could make a cake shaped like a hat, and without any of these newfangled "as seen on TV" special concave pans. Whippersnappers.

2:22 PM  
Blogger David said...

Rindy: Why would you want a cake shaped like a hat? Mine were shaped like Garfield and the Cookie Monster. And, one year, President Taft.

6:45 AM  
Blogger MzOuiser said...

You have a wonderful mindset regarding birthdays. I am still in the crushed-when-I-have-no-party phase. But then, I am a bit younger than you. (Just a bit.)

I'll have to try what you suggest: an adventure. I love that idea...

1:31 PM  
Blogger Frank said...

Happy birthday! I hope you got more cake than just the crumbs.

8:11 PM  

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