I aged again last week. I know that technically we age all the time, but birthdays have a way of really driving the fact home. So I’ll repeat, I aged again last week.
And I turned 39. That’s right, I turned 39. Again. (Friends and family are choking on whatever they’re drinking right about now.)
Like Jack Benny, I claim 39 as my age, no matter what birthday I happen to be “celebrating.”
Now, the word “celebrating” is put in quotation marks because my birthdays are legendary. For being terrible. And this year was no exception.
Here is a brief list of things that I did manage to avoid on my birthday this year: tiger mauling; Ebola virus and other hemorrhagic fevers; adopting yet another cat; FUN.
What I didn’t manage to avoid: insomnia; car accident; lots of crying.
Yep, Stephanie got a car accident for her birthday, with everything that entails. This is an experience I’d much rather forget, so no details will be provided. However, I will say that on the plus side, my car was still drivable, and the responding officer did wish me a happy birthday. (All of MY birthday wishes were blown on wishing the accident away. In case you were wondering, they didn’t work, hence the crying.)
But my day actually began much earlier. Let me take you back to the beginning.
My father always calls before the crack of dawn to wish me a happy birthday. This is never a problem — in fact, I not only expect it, I look forward to it. This time was no exception, and as the calls are always brief, I am always able to roll over and go back to sleep.
(I’m going to interject here that while my insomnia is nothing new, the reason for it on this occasion was that I’d had oral surgery about 10 days prior, and had to go back to the oral surgeon the day before as the site wasn’t healing due to an infection and other factors, so the main cause of my insomnia this time was a lot of pain.)
So, not 10 minutes later, just as I was drifting back into sweet oblivion after a restless, pain-filled night, the phone rang again, and, assuming it was my father again, I made the mistake of not checking the caller I.D. and instead simply answered the phone.
It was a (now former) friend calling from China, before 7 a.m., drunk as a skunk, who went on a fairly vicious rant about pretty much everything, but especially the Chinese (they are controlling and short) and Americans (we’re lazy Western devils, and should all convert to socialism — and by the way, he’s American, which only lent to the absurdity of it all).
By the time I finally hung up the phone, I was already exhausted, and it wasn’t even 9 a.m. And he’d forgotten it was my birthday, so no birthday wishes for my trouble, either, the donkey.
Then I went to my appointment, and that’s when I got my car accident for my birthday.Where I DID receive birthday wishes for my trouble.
I should have known — for my birthday playlist, the Universe played Steely Dan’s “Reelin’ In the Years,” David Bowie’s “Ashes to Ashes,” and all seven sections of Faure’s “Requiem,” which just so happens to be funeral music.
But the piece de resistance came when I met boyfriend Billy for birthday dinner. I had mightily looked forward to having a pleasant birthday supper, with the added bonus of being able to put the day’s woes behind me, enjoy a quiet meal, and relax.
So imagine my surprise when we turned into the McDonald’s drive-through. Imagine my further surprise when we pulled up to the cashier’s window and Billy looked at me as if to say, “Well?” as he made no move whatsoever to pay.
That’s right, boys and girls, Stephanie paid for her own birthday dinner from Chez McD’s.
And lest you think it doesn’t get any worse, my birthday cake came in the form of a Birthday Cake Three Musketeers candy bar, thoughtfully provided by boyfriend Billy. Which, if you were wondering, tastes perfectly foul.
When I came home, I cried some more. And was crawled on by cats jockeying for space on my lap for attention so they could love on me, making me feel a whole lot better. I like to think they were giving me their own version of birthday wishes.
I also took a call from my son, who wished me a happy 21st birthday — he gets extra Mommy-love for that one, though I felt compelled at the time to remind him that I was 39. Again.
I don’t know what Jack Benny’s reasoning for his many 39th birthdays were. My reasoning is twofold: First, I never have to reveal my true age, which any woman is reluctant to do at any time. Second, I know that my birthdays bring some form of disaster and tragedy with them, so turning 39 every year allows for do-overs every year. At least in theory.
And one year, when everything goes right and I have the perfect birthday, I’ll consider turning 40…
Nah, not really; 39 is a great age for a gal to (perpetually) be.
Stephanie Ratts GRISSOM is a Herald correspondent.