I long to be as special as the next Lambchop, but I haven’t made a practice of making a big deal about my birthday. As a small child, I would scream and cry whenever there was any adult expectation that I should be *happy*, as my poor brain was a storm of angst. Why not smash it into the floor?
Childhood birthdays were a time when punishments were briefly lifted, my mother would hang streamers, and my grandmother would bring a cake to our upstairs apartment to exclaim over every gift, “you should thank your lucky stars!” I wasn’t allowed to invite anyone, but it was just as well not having any witnesses to this sad scene, with its childish decorations and its querulous and often sullen subject (me). This joyless parade was repeated without alteration from the time I was ten until I turned 17. My poor mother tried her best, she bought me all the records I asked for. But where were the ice sculptures, pizza and trips to the roller rink with other kids? Wasn’t this supposed to be about ME, being FANTASTIC?
After leaving home, I generally looked forward to my birthday with a wincing, half hopeful expectation that nature would simply provide an outrageous testament to my awesomeness, without me having to tell anyone about it. Of course, the fates do not usually concern themselves with such arbitrary pats on the head for the neurotic. But when I turned 22, I found myself at Deli Haus, dressed to the ratty nines with friends after a night at le club Manray. “Heroes” came on the jukebox and I felt, with a sense of true happiness, that it was just for me. Everything.
In Berlin I finally had some smashing soirees. It was the practice there that on your birthday, you owed your friends a party. We had a bar, a big communal house, roof terrace, and a very ready public. I got to wear a tiara!
In recent years I have pretty much just ignored my birthday. I am not turning 8, but 37, so I do not require a pony ride around the yard with John Wayne Gacy or a loft full of circus performers. Although a trained weasel might be nice. So alas and alack, it is upon us once more. I like Patton Oswalt’s idea about only celebrating on the truly special birthdays.
Anyway, now you know what you have to look foward to for the next few days, a lot of self-absorbed reflection on my history, perchance a photo of a cupcake? Attack!