Wednesday, March 07, 2007

April 2nd: Birthday Alert

A college professor steeped in the media arts once remarked, "If you threw a party and didn't send out invitations, would you expect anyone to show up?" Professors are always steeped in something; pipe tobacco, tweed jackets, or Socratic irony, if you're lucky.

This bearded lecture hall veteran used the analogy to point out the importance of advertising or perhaps underscore a fundamental flaw in my social skills. I owned a pickup truck so I was good with keg transport, but not as handy with the invitations.

And so it is with birthdays, especially mine. I have to advertise to get a return on my special day. Oh, Mrs. Jones always comes through with a kiss and a gift. And Mom, God bless her, is quick with homemade chocolate cake, hand delivered. Grandma sends a card with a generous check, and Dad phones with recollections of waiting in the hospital with sweaty palms for the joyous news, it's a boy! Cigars were lit, people smoked everywhere in 1965, backs were slapped, and relatives drove in from farm and field to get a look at my freshly pressed mug.

Touting your own birthday as an adult is a cagey affair. You gotta weave it into conversation subtly. Force the birthday comment and one seems desperate, as the boy who sacked my groceries last night at Price Chopper reminded me. But if you're too proud to mention it, if you put your friends to the test by keeping mum, your birthday passes unnoticed, much like Arbor Day. Nobody stays home from work, but somewhere a tree is planted in your honor.

This year I'm setting aside any pride I had left before I started this web log and I'm letting you know in advance, it's three weeks and five days until my 42nd birthday. Submit those vacation requests soon, I understand tree planting takes the better part of an afternoon.

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