Most nightmares cannot come true. It’s impossible. The odds of the shark from Jaws chasing you down the street while you are trying to find your pants so you can get to your advanced Sociology final, a class you’ve never even been to, by the way, are very slim.
There is one nightmare that people do live, over and over. It’s a nightmare so horrible that many people would immediately curl up in the fetal position if faced with this punishment.
Children’s birthday parties.
I’ve been to several children’s birthday parties in the last few years. It’s one of the biggest issues I have with having friends and family: They assume you want to give their kid a present.
This is, of course, not true. I have no interest in trying to figure out what a three year old girl wants for her birthday. I don’t even remember being three and I certainly don’t know what a preschool aged girl plays with, although I’m fairly certain it is pink.
The worst parties are for babies. When a kid is able to walk around, you feel like they may actually be having fun at their party. Plus, they are usually held at Chuck E. Cheese, so I get to play skeeball. Why they won’t put skeeball in more adult restaurants, I will never understand. When the kid spends the entire party stuck in a chair elevated four feet off the ground and people come and stare at them like they are an exhibit at the Guggenheim, it seems more like a bizarre form of child abuse.
Despite the unpleasantness, kids love their birthday parties. They love presents, they love cake, they love fire on their cake, they love spitting at the fire on the cake and making everyone eat a dessert covered in their slobber. It’s like little kid heaven.
For adults, though, birthdays become just another day and parties become a hassle.
Yesterday was my birthday. I have celebrated many of these in my lifetime, having had one every year since birth. I know, it seems like overkill, but I like the world to celebrate me.
In the past, I’ve noticed the differences, but never really paid attention to them. This year, though, the differences became abundantly clear (Abundantly Clear- that would be a great name for a bottle water company).
I remember as a kid wondering what I would get for my birthday. I, naturally, had a list a mile long that consisted of things ranging from an action figure to a Leer Jet. I had a theory, a theory which I still use to this day for Christmas gifts, that if I throw an incredibly expensive item or two on the list, for instance a plane that cost twice as much as my house, it would make the $50 items seem less expensive. It has never worked, but someday someone will fall for it. You have to have faith.
I would spend hours trying to guess my gifts, usually failing to do so, which only served to heighten my anticipation.
Fast forward to an adult birthday.
This year, my phone rang two weeks before my birthday. It was my mom.
“So, what do you want for your birthday?” she asked.
I thought for a minute, completely stumped. I had nothing I really wanted. “Um… I guess a new battery for my laptop.”
“Is that it?”
I realized I was boring and quickly tried to come up with a fun and impractical item. I thought about asking for a monkey, but I’ve had enough trouble potty training my dog and she doesn’t even throw her feces. Also, I knew I would never actually get a monkey. “Yeah, that’s about it.”
“Well, what do you want to do for your birthday?”
Nothing would seem like an unacceptable answer, but that was what I wanted. “I guess we could go out to eat.”
Suffice it to say, there was no giant party for me. Also, I got a check. Happy Birthday, me.
That’s exactly what I wanted out of my birthday, though. Maybe I’m becoming old and cynical, but my surviving another year doesn’t hardly seem party worthy.
I figure I will continue to care less and less about my birthday. I’m okay with that.
Next year, though, I’m holding out for that monkey.
- Barbecue and Birthday Party (crazythinking.wordpress.com)
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