Birthday thoughts



Birthdays are weird things, which is why I'm glad I was born Dec. 3. It means I can delay mine until the year is almost over. Nestled between Thanksgiving and Christmas, an early December birthday means that, if you're lucky, most of your friends forget about it until it pops up on Facebook the day before.

I've never been too keen on birthday parties, given that it's a celebration of the fact that you're one year closer to the grave. And, in fact, I can only recall one or two birthdays where things went well and the day passed without some unpleasant incident.

Birthday celebrations, like Christmas, are best enjoyed by kids and alcoholics. When you're a kid, you get cake and presents and everyone makes a big fuss about you. When you hit 16, you're able to get a driver's license. When you turn 18, you can buy tobacco and pornography. When you turn 21, you're legally able to buy booze.

That's about as good as it gets.

All I really want for this birthday, or any birthday, is not to be bothered by balloon bouquets and coworkers razzing me about it. As far as presents go, the only thing I need is debt relief and freedom from being bothered by the people I owe money.

I have almost everything I need and very many things I don't need. I don't want a camouflage Snuggie or an Obama Chia. And I especially don't want a birthday party. All I really want is a night at home and possibly a nice dinner.

Still, society should give us something on our birthdays, some small token of appreciation. Like the right to say anything you want for one day, without any repercussions. Have an idiot boss? Tell him or her exactly what you think. See an attractive person walking down the street? Make wildly inappropriate comments. It's your birthday!

Even better, make it the law that no laws apply to you on your birthday except laws against violent crime. Screw presents, shoplift whatever you want and, if you're caught, your valid ID showing your birthday will get you off the hook. Feel up to some white collar crime? If you can pull it off in 24 hours, it's yours, pal.

I realize that certain restaurants and strip clubs already reward you on your birthday, but that's not enough. I want something better than a cup of coffee or a lap dance from a syphilitic showgirl on most days, but especially on my birthday.

Some people already act like that on their birthday. They take a vacation day at work, I guess on the theory that they should do no labor on that sacred day. I call bullshit on that one. I've worked just about every birthday of my adult life and have suffered no ill effect from it.

The other thing about birthdays is that they suck a little bit more each year in direct proportion to your age. Not just because of the aforementioned freight train of mortality but because the payout is a little smaller every year.

When you're 20, or even 40, it's party time. But by age 60 or 80, you're hoping for a solid bowel movement and to not fracture your hip, preferably both.

If, by some miracle of the laws of probability, I do live to be 85 or 90, I'm going to do all the things that I'm too sensible and/or scared to do now. I've never used heroin or held up a bank, but you can be damned sure I'm going to do both those things on my 90th birthday. Who's going to arrest me for that?

Usually on my birthday, I take some time for some quiet contemplation. I think about the joyful things I've done. I ponder my disappointments. I update my enemies list and cross off the names of those to whom retribution has come in the past year.

Mainly, I'm just glad for having survived to have reached this age, something that seemed quite unlikely even 10 years ago. And I'm glad that I get to keep sending these messages to you, fellow citizens of Indianapolis, until they tell me I can't anymore.

If someone reading this really has the desire to do something for me this year, give a donation to the charity of your choice. Give your child a good book to read, like The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Buy a homeless person some food.

If I really did get birthday wishes, that's the kind of things I'd spend them on. Thanks for reading.


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