Some Thoughts on Birthdays

So it’s going to be my birthday soon, and I thought I’d take this opportunity to ruminate on the subject of birthdays.  A little bit about my own birthday, but mostly just about birthdays in general, and ways in which you might possibly be being an ass.

Everyone has a birthday, obviously.  And I don’t begrudge anyone celebrating that birthday.  Make a big deal about yourself, scream for attention, demand a party and gifts, whatever whatever.  We should all be entitled to one huge “me” day a year, and the day is not without significance, being the day you did, after all, start living (in case you wondered where I fell on the abortion issue).  But let’s be clear:  everybody gets one birthday.  Just one.

Dig it:  there is no such thing as your “birthday week” or your “half birthday”.  Now obviously, there are quite literally the week in which your birthday takes place, and the mathematical halfway point, calendar-wise, to your birthday.  But these are not things.  They are happenstance, completely immaterial to the advent of your birth.  When you demand that others now also celebrate these “you” days, you have become a pig.  You are blatantly asking for more than your share of attention for having done nothing but slide forth the birth canal.  If you’re reading this, you are just a regular person; you are not the son of a god, a producer of classic Hollywood cinema, or the botanist who figured out how to domesticate almonds.  In short, we have no convincing reason to think about your birthday any longer than the cursory few moments we think about anyone’s birthdays other than our own.  I demand you stop being a priggish diva.

If you want extra time being special, and proclaiming your special-ness, you must in fact find ways to be special.  If you want to be smarter, or more attractive, or funnier, or more wealthy, you must put in the time, effort, and footwork to become more special and noticeable.  Do not attempt to gain more than your share of the world’s “specialness attention” by suddenly deciding that your birthday for some reason lasts a week, and must be mentioned four times a day in person and twice on Facebook, while the rest of us who are pretending to be humble (some of us, I know, usually failing), stick to the damned rules and only celebrate one day’s worth, and then spend the rest of our lives finding legitimate ways to be recognized for achievement.

I can hear what some of you are saying.  But Seth!  My family always celebrated half-birthdays growing up.  It is family tradition!  Well then, fie on your family for being a bunch of look-at-me’s.  I can’t blame anyone for innocently celebrating a tradition they grew up thinking was legitimate, but you’re a big girl now.  Go build a bookcase or paint a mural or something, and celebrate your one birthday like the rest of us classy cattle.  There’s no free passes here.

OK.  That was a pretty good rant, wasn’t it?!  Man I really love when I get on a sweet roll with a rant like that.

I was born on a Friday the 13th.  This year, it also falls on a Friday.  Due to the massive birthday alarm that is Facebook, I anticipate having to reveal this fact much more this year than ever before.  I apologize in advance if you see me explaining it to people a lot in the days surrounding my birthday; I assure you, I will be more tired of typing it than you are of reading it.

I’ve written a couple friggen’ good poems about my birthday.  You can read my favorite one here.  (you can also hear me read it at that link!)

This year I’m going to be 34.  Thirty-four.  Now, I know some of you who are reading this crossed that mark quite some time ago and are considering telling me, “Buck up kid, you’re young.  Guess what?  It just keeps on going after 34, too.”  Well, I know.  But for some reason, the sound of 34 is more threatening, more…absolutely adult sounding, than the previous thirties.  Inside I still feel…19?  25?  Something younger.  I’m still going to these little indie rock shows and standing up front and jumping all around;  am I being that awkward old guy?  Am I the weird out-of-place geezer the hip kids are pointing at, thinking who’s he trying to fool?  I can’t go on pretending I don’t love books on American history, the songs of Henry Mancini, “Meet the Press” and the quietude of an early Sunday morning.  I’ve got a foot in the grave and a foot in the mosh pit (just figuratively; I never did like moshing).

Well, who cares.  I was just kind of rambling there. I don’t feel old and I have no intentions of starting to act old.  Sure, some of my tastes are morphing slowly, but just as part of a greater appreciation of the wider world.  I still mosh, figuratively, and read some really cutting edge magazines.  That last part about magazines was meant to be a joke, although in my head, I meant it seriously.

But I just can’t get past that number.  Thirty-four.  It’s the first time the number of my age has made it clear to me that I’m on this train and there’s no turning around.  That’s right, folks: I’m talking about our old friend mortality.  I’m gonna die, you’re gonna die, we’re all gonna freakin’ die.  When you’re 18, you’re never gonna die.  But when you’re 34, you’re definitely gonna die someday.  Not that I mind dying someday, but let’s have fewer reminders of it, eh?

I know this has been an aggresively cynical post on birthdays, but hey, what do you expect from a super-special person like me?  I am unpredicatable, and you gotta take the good with the bad, or the optimistic with the pessimistic, as it were.  Perhaps if I celebrated a half-birthday or birthday week, I wouldn’t feel the need to write jarring social criticism for your approval.  But hey, I’m just following the damned rules of society here.

18 Responses to “Some Thoughts on Birthdays”

  1. i agree totally about half birthdays

  2. Kyle Sundgren Says:

    What about Jehova’s Witnesses?! They just threw a wrench in your blog machine!

    I can’t stand the, almost exclusively female, people that are turning something like 41 but they tell everyone to come to their “Sweet 16” or “21 all over again” party. It’s not cute. Just accept that you age just like the rest of us.

    I have a Facebook friend who is celebrating his birthday MONTH right now. You’d have probably bought a hunting rifle to shoot him with by now.

    • sethdellinger Says:

      haha I have no idea what the reference to Jehovah’s Witnesses is about…must be an element of their religion I do not know about. And ditto about people “cutely” denying their age.

      Oh. My. God. I almost wish you hadn’t told me about your friend. Seriously, how completely uninteresting and self-absorbed does someone have to be to be doing that? I want to freaking tell him about himself.

  3. I’m currently celebrating the YEAR of my 35th birthday. I take each day and spend it as I normally would. Then, at the end of those days, face a serious depression as to why no one recognized me in my special year. As the self loathing grows, I realize that what makes the year special is that I am appreciating me and that’s all I really need. Finally, on my actual birthday, when loads of “friends” on facebook take time out of their “oh, so busy life” to wish this person that they really don’t know anymore (and don’t think about the other 364) a happy birthday. I realize that the whole year has just been a big build up to my “surprise” birthday party (that I’m completely aware of), and I finally feel special again.

    OR….I’m very very happy with the loved ones I’m blessed to interact with on a regular basis

    • sethdellinger Says:

      Paul, as usual, I have no idea if you’re agreing or arguing with me, but that all sounded pretty good, so I’m gonna say, “Yay!” Celebrating our loved ones is never a bad thing.

      • sethdellinger Says:

        also, you’re old.

        • I am completely agreeing with you (as I usually am).

          I may be old….but it only means I have a head start in our race to the grave. You’re going down sucka

          • And I’m tired of feeling guilty everytime I see that it is somebodies birthday on facebook and I’m to self absorbed to post a happy birthday to someone I spent a brief moment with in this journey….mainly because I recieve a lot of them on my birthday….Bastards

            • sethdellinger Says:

              Yeah, I’ve almost stopped completely. I figure that so many people comment for your birthday, nobody will probably even notice that I didn’t. If I do take the time, it’s for a really close friend, and even that is only if the mood strikes me. It’s such a strange damn tradition.

  4. Birthday weeks annoy the crap out of me and for some people I know it is becoming commonplace. I refuse to celebrate more than once (unless you are paying for me to go to a baseball playoff game and then I’ll celebrate a few times).

    Don’t worry. Awkward or not you just keep doing your thing.

  5. This. was. awesome. I’m reposting it. I LOLed so many times my nose is running.

    Also: Paul cracks me up.

    • sethdellinger Says:

      Thanks!

      Paul’s OK.

      • Paul’s actually pretty awesome. He seems to transcend himself with every word uttered. His overall demeanor is that of discontented narcissism. His ability to phase shift through time and space often makes his presence underwelmingly pungent. His lack of a cohesive thought process make for the most enlightening conversations. He is the most interesting man Seth knows

        “I don’t always post on blogs….but when I do, I’ve usually been drinking. Stay thoughtful my friends”

        • sethdellinger Says:

          haha why are you twice as weird on the internet as you are in person? Don’t get me wrong, I love it, but it’s curious.

  6. I think it is OK to celebrate my half birthday. jesus christ, most people know that my whole day belongs to another celebration.

    • sethdellinger Says:

      haha yes, that’s true. I’ll make an exception for Christmas birthdays. I’ve never heard you mention the half-birthday, though?

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