There you are in your friend’s backyard on a beautiful summer day. There are balloons and streamers as far as your eye can see. Presents wrapped in cartoon-clad paper lay in a pile on the picnic table, full of mystery and expectation. Your face is sticky from the ice cream cake melted by the sun. You watch your friend standing proud knowing that this is her special day. It is Her birthday! You see the adults laughing with each other as they refill their red party cups. You see the birthday girl watching all the other kids having fun running around and playing with each other in their sugar high hysteria. You are a bit concerned as you see her face start to melt into a self-righteous grimace. You witness her transform into a tiny volcano with steam coming from her ears and eyes as she stares at her guests not paying enough attention to her. You see her tiny hands clench into balls of fury as she starts to shake and grab at the hem of her new birthday dress, slowly revealing her sacred Wonder Woman Underoos. You start to search for the safest place to ‘duck and cover’. But it’s too late. The scream lets out. Mount St. Helens has now erupted for the second time that summer. “It is MY Birthday and You will do what I SAY,” screams the five year old birthday Nazi. It is all very awkward to say the least. Especially since I was the birthday girl.
As a kid, I believed that on my birthday all things should stop and focus on me. I was always a bit miffed when people would deign to discuss anything other than me during this day of mine. No one else was as important as me. Not even other people born on the same day, if they even existed. Of course, as I got older, the tantrums stopped. My mother informing me that I would not have any friends if I continued on that path certainly helped. I would take each turning year in stride with or without party and presents. However, with each birthday I would still feel a tad bitter and sad if people did not acknowledge me. Then came the day when I was in my early twenties and my sister forgot my birthday. The following year, my parents forgot. Not even a phone call came my way. I was starting to realize that people don’t really give a shit about other people’s birthday because to them, it is just another day. This is not to say that I have not had parties thrown for me by my best friends and husband. These were amazing times. But hell, we would celebrate a good BM if it means getting together and having a few good drinks!
So, a day came when I decided to stop my self-pitying birthday thoughts. As a way to acknowledge successfully making it through another year of life without being killed or killing myself, I started to take my birthdays into my own hands. How do I want to spend the day? Do I want to be with or without anyone else? If it is an important day for me, then I need to be my best audience and make sure I’m having a good time even if it is just watching Star Wars for the fifty billionth time.
First things first, I always take the day off from work if my birthday falls within the work week. My office has a ‘floating holiday’ and I feel that the anniversary of my birth is as good a holiday to use that on as anything.
Second, if I feel like an adventure that particular year, I see if my friends are available to come with. If they are not, I go along and have the adventure by myself. Alone is always good, because there is no one to yell at if I’m not paying attention to myself.
Thirdly, I am a whore for massages. I always say that if I become rich, the one luxurious thing I would buy myself is a daily massage. Yes, daily. I did not stutter. But until that day comes, I will always have my birthday massages. It makes my husband’s job of gift giving so much easier. I find the spa and he pays the bill. Presto change-o instant happiness! And let me tell you, there is something very special about the birthday massage. I can’t recommend it enough. If you go to a good spa, they will treat you like a Queen. You get a robe, relaxing music, sometimes a cocktail and snacks. Then you give your birthday the best acknowledgement since the day it first happened, by celebrating it like you did that first time. You physically put yourself in a position not unlike that very beginning day of your life. Your body is pushed and pulled into submission by a stranger, all while your face is peeking through a cushioned hole. And I love every minute of it.
So my dear friends, I hope you get to enjoy your birthdays as much as I do. Not like when I was a child demanding everyone’s attention, but by paying a person to worship me. Happy Birthday to me. Happy Birthday to us all!