Birthday Blues

Old life sucks, but you don’t have to. Birthdays might be lame, but they’re still worth celebrating.

Jihae Lee

Nelson celebrates one more year, and tells life to shove it.

Greavances

Don’t worry about it. You know what? Not even mad. It’s water under the bridge—less than that—poop shards under the water. I haven’t even begun to forget to remember it. That’s how chill it is that Monday was my birthday and you completely missed it.

Didn’t want to see you there anyway—what with that shirt you’re wearing. Would’ve stunk up the whole color aesthetic of my party.

And I know I didn’t have a party. But that doesn’t mean I still didn’t not want a lame-shirted, birthday-missing jerk like you at a place that I wasn’t.

I mean. I guess you maybe could’ve come for a bit. If you changed that effing shirt. And like, planned me a party? Or got me a gift? Or bumped into me in passing in a way ambiguous enough for me to read into it all sorts of strange but heartfelt birthday wishes. Or like, ignored me the same way? Oh, wait—that’s what you did do.

So, I spent my 22nd birthday alone in my room with some 7-11 swill and enough youtube to choke a horse. Not that disappointing birthdays are anything new. Last year, my 21st birthday was shut down by a cat’s inflamed urethra. (This is a true story. The cat’s name is Pericles.) I just—I don’t know. I wanted it to be good. But it’s not like I go through the effort for anyone else.

The problem with birthdays is that everyone has them and they just keep recurring (like that dream we all have about thigh pimples. We do all have that one, right?). This can make it hard to put in the effort to celebrate when you realize you’ll just have to expend the same energy this time next year.

The other problem is that birthdays mean something different to everyone. My roommate hates the egalitarian nature of them, my friend likes getting free things, my uncle throws huge parties where he tosses watermelons off his roof, my grandma doesn’t care two cents ‘cause she’s dead.

Dead sick of birthdays, that is!

Zing!

As a child who viewed his birthday as an event only ever upstaged by the release of the newest Power Rangers Zord action figure set, I couldn’t fathom why adults didn’t engage in the delightful cyclical revelry of birthdays...People have to give me presents just because I was born. How can you beat a deal like that?

Add cake.

Boom. Done.

When I asked adults—when I still ask adults—why they so often sit out on elaborate birthday celebrations, they often respond, “When you’re old, a birthday just reminds you that you’re one step closer to death.” But that’s like being ugly, and refusing to look into mirrors ‘cause they show you that you’re ugly. Okay—I guess mirrors do actually do that, but I still reject the former excuse’s logic.

Along our unbearably light life-journeys, as we roll our meaningless life-stones up our Sisyphean life-hills of life, there is no shortage of signposts reminding us of our inevitable and impending demises into meat pastes of no more consequence than air. (Most of these involve varicose veins.)

But birthdays don’t belong in this category. Look—we’re all going to die and when we do, we can’t come back. Well—most of us can’t—I’m looking at you, Jesus. Adding a number to your existence subtotal constitutes a measurable, significant, awardable achievement for having avoided death.

Do you realize how hard it is to avoid death? It’s like, reasonably hard. Life—is reasonably hard, and with each birthday, whether you’re painting the town red, or painting the town a pale and sickly puke green, you’ve survived. You’ve kept on keeping on. Life might not always be its own reward—but living is still worth rewarding.

Case in point: 100 year old birthdays. They’re celebrations, even to the grumpiest of birthday naysayers, but why? By the logic of birthday pessimists, these centenarians should be grieving. They’ve already got one foot out the door. Heck—forget feet, (if they even still have them) they’ve got at least the upper and lower torsos out. Maybe even some neckage. But they celebrate because—well—it’s an accomplishment. Life tried to kill them, and it’s failed, for the past 100 years. And you know what? That warrants a party.

Now, I’m not saying you can’t be afraid of death—I’m terrified of death. I’m just saying, leave the birthday out of it.

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