Saturday, August 02, 2008

Song of Myself.

What is a birthday? An arbitrary observation of the day when you were born, which recedes in twelve month segments. Now that I am approaching the "middle age" phase of my life, this birthday phenomenon is becoming more complex. How should it be recognized? Is it to be celebrated, as if there were nothing so special as your arrival on Earth? Is that not merely a recognition of one's own vanity? Or is it a simple reminder that you are aging, and that you have expended yet another of your all-too-limited years of life. Naturally when you are younger, you tend to see things according to the former view. But eventually you are almost bound to start thinking about passing time, and your birthdays will tend toward the melancholy.

Of course I do recall the birthdays of my youth, when I waited until late summer to mark another milestone toward adulthood. My family was by no means wealthy, but I could always look forward to receiving gifts. I'll admit that getting that booty was my main focus. I came to expect it as my proper due. I guess it's just a bit ironic that I don't remember any specific presents I ever got on those long ago days. I know the stuff was nice, and that my parents always made sure I was satisfied... yet I still have difficulty dredging up any of the particulars. I know that we did get to choose what kind of cake we wanted. And I know that it was a time to spend with my extended family.

The most memorable birthday I had was when I turned 16, and went to Action Park in Vernon, NJ. That was truly the big-boy destination of my adolescence. There were a lot of attractions at this oddly perilous amusement park that required a driver's permit. It's true that I had fun, but I also got more than I bargained for (as a lot of other fun-seekers did at that place). Still it made for an interesting day in the sun. Other birthdays were spent at the neighborhood pool that we belonged to. We always got to hold parties at this members-only hot spot. The best thing about those events was that they were held at night. There is something special about being able to splash around in the dark. It also didn't hurt that those evening frolics were lightly chaperoned.

Nowadays I usually don't make a big deal about my birthday. It's a bit embarrassing for me to be the focus of attention on a day that I had very little to do with in the first place. I certainly don't remember choosing to emerge into the external world on that particular date. But M. likes to make a big deal of these occasions, and always asks me what kinds of treats I would like on my "special day". This year she brought up the idea of having a party at the house. Because my actual birthday falls on a weekday, she suggested that we have people over on the Saturday before. While it seemed a bit indulgent to invite folks over to celebrate my existence, I decided that it would probably be a lot of fun.

Hey, what the hell, right? Any excuse to have my buddies over for some concentrated relaxation. I guess I don't really care if it comes off as self-importance. This will be the first party we have had here since Baby E. was born. When he's ready for sleep we're planning to move the shindig to 31st Street Pub, where my buddy Slim Cessna is opening up for my other buddies, Local Honey. If you are reading this and feel that you missed your invitation, I'd advise you to pick up your phone when I call. Because I tried not to forget you, and that only means that we got our wires crossed. If you do happen to read this and have some free time this evening, stop on by and we'll do a shot.

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Blogger Dagrims said...

Hope you had a fun party. Wish I could be there. I would like to see Slim Cessna some day.

Was the day of the body burns from the alpine slide your 16th birthday trip?

11:14 PM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

It was a good time. I'll try to remember to let you know if the Auto Club ever comes down your way.

Yes indeed, the Alpine Slide incident was on my 16th B-day.

1:45 PM  

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