Happy Birthday Cake to Me | Opinion
Depending on when you read this, my 52nd birthday is/was April 20, which, as my dad always likes to remind me, is the same day as Adolf Hitler’s. As a child, I remember thinking that 52 was an age that an old Galapagos tortoise or a giant sequoia could reach – certainly not a human.
My age really hits me when I watch a sporting event and realize that I am now older than virtually all professional athletes (except for a few bowlers). Guess I can cross that off my list of things to worry about. More pressure there.
Birthdays are strange things to celebrate. After all, the person benefiting from the celebration did nothing but put another human being in extreme discomfort for several months, culminating in a few hours of drug-induced agony – and not just for the father. . And if we’re all being honest, we’ll admit that childbirth isn’t pretty either – lots of crying, moaning and sometimes swearing – not just from the father.
Apparently I was almost born in the car on the way to the hospital, so any screaming was probably related to my dad’s driving.
One of my fondest memories from my early childhood in the 1970s is of an Easter-themed birthday party thrown by my parents. There were plastic eggs filled with candy, miniature baskets full of candy, homemade bunny ears for the kids, and lots of plaid polyester. It was a simpler time then, full of childhood innocence and questionable fashion choices.
These days, my birthdays spark thoughts (especially from my wife) about what I’m going to do with the rest of my life. I’m way too old to drive a Harley or a sports car without being ridiculed on someone’s TikTok video. I’m not interested in the pain or expense required for a range of tattoos. And a new obsession with golf, fishing, hunting, or any other physical activity just seems exhausting. Also, I recently threw my back while tying my shoe, so I think mixed martial arts is probably out of the question too.
Maybe I’ll really lean into my favorite hobbies, whether marathon napping or competitive eating. (I’m not exactly a competitive eater, but I sometimes pretend to be, especially when it comes to cake.)
And speaking of cake, the highlight of most of my birthdays has been a special multi-tiered strawberry cake that my sweet mom made for me. The cake is big enough to share with the whole family, but I always warn my three daughters that the cake is held together with dangerously sharp toothpicks – and they may or may not be used.
And then there’s the singing involved in birthdays. I don’t mean to be a curmudgeon, but isn’t “The Birthday Song” getting a little boring? “Happy Birthday” is repeated three times! It’s as if it was meant for someone with short-term memory loss. If I get to 90, I’m sure I’ll enjoy it more, but until then. . .
What was I saying again?
Once the song is happily over, then comes the pressure to blow out the candles in one breath without spitting all over the dessert.
In the age of COVID, is blowing on a cake still a “thing”? Or was it left behind with other prohibited activities, such as shaking hands, kissing babies, and enjoying life in general?
Seriously, though, I’m really grateful that God gave me another year to annoy my wife, kids, and pets. I also want to thank anyone who thinks of me enough to fill out that automated birthday greeting when Facebook’s algorithm reminds you once a year that the high school weirdo or parent whose lineage you’re asking is still alive.
I will always remember this, or at least until I eat the last piece of strawberry cake and take my bunny ears off.