Day 46: Birthday day!

This is not as much fun as it sounds: the meat of the task is just writing down birthdays so you don’t forget them. I don’t forget birthdays – because I’ve harnessed the magic of Google Calendar – but I do choose to ignore them pretty often, which probably looks the same on the outside.

I took the opportunity to make sure that I had the important birthdays on my calendar (all set to repeat annually, and to stop in the years I expect various folks to die) and I filled in the gaps using the magic privacy-invasion of Facebook (though being “friends” with me doesn’t at all mean that I care about your birthday). It was tedious, but needed doing, and it gave me something to do in the little chunks of time between conferences with students about their Great Gatsby essays (none of which were as good as this one).

I’m not really a fan of birthdays – or, I should say, I’m not really a fan of birthday parties –though I make exceptions for children (albeit grudgingly – hanging out with trying to corral a crowd of screaming children isn’t my idea of fun). A big birthday party seems somehow indecent – “Hey, look at you! You’re alive! Have some cake!” – but that may just be because I have a limited tolerance for large gatherings of jovial people.

I’ve been at a few births – they’re big events, but they’re also events you don’t go to unless you have some significant connection to the people involved. A birthday party – as the celebration of the day you passed through your mother’s vagina (unless you were “from the womb untimely ripped“) – ought to be the same way. (“The same way” in the sense of being small and intimate, not in the sense of involving screaming, blood, other fluids, and nudity.)

Both of my parents recently turned 55, and we celebrated their birthdays with small family dinners – and it was great, it was exactly the sort of thing I mean. It was the way most birthday parties would be, if I got to make all those decisions. I’m required to willing to make exceptions, of course: my wife turned 30 last year, and we had a “big” party – two or three dozen people, and a giant ice-chest full of beer. It was an amazing time, but I wouldn’t want to do it every year (maybe more often than once a decade, though).

As for my own birthdays — well, they’re all a bit like this:

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