“Happy Birthday!” A wish that sounded so beautiful when we are young begins to sound scary as years pass us by. That’s the funniest thing about birthdays! When we are young and wait for our birthdays, there seems to be an eternity between each. They take their own time to make their appearance.
We see our kids waiting in anticipation for their birthday months ahead. They can’t seem to wait to get old enough to watch “18+” movies without fear of being thrown out of the theaters or “interfering” parents sneaking up on them. They can’t wait for their pimples to miraculously vanish. They can’t wait for whiskers to grow so that they can start using all those shaving creams and instruments, not to forget the aftershave that smells so manly. Boys wait for their voice to turn masculine – an achievement that gives them their first sense of manhood.
If you are old enough, you would have been through all that. When I was a kid, I remember planning months ahead on who I was going to invite for my birthday and what I would wear on that much-awaited day.
In my opinion, it would not be an exaggeration to compare birthdays to “Chinese meals.” Till the age of 25; you barely finished one and you’re waiting for the next.
What can you call birthdays, between the ages of 25 and 39? “Health food” perhaps? You’re having them because that’s expected of you and everyone else is celebrating theirs. It’s still a happy occasion but not something you long for and wait for months on end. The childhood enthusiasm for birthdays gives way to a sort of acceptance, that it is something that’s inevitable and comes every year. You can still handle the occasion with grace and have some fun with friends and family.
But enter 40 and things change drastically. Your attitude undergoes a sea change. You feel thousands of eyes are watching you, watching you turn from a swan into an ugly duckling. The same birthday you once loved now seems like a monster successfully catching up with you, despite your best efforts to keep it out of your mind and not paying any attention.
What is it that bothers you? Is it the fat that’s accumulating on the waist or the fact that your wrinkles are showing? I can imagine how embarrassed you would feel if someone were to ask you “How old are you now?” The replies to that questions are vague and usually border on the lines of “Oh, 60 years” or “16 years” or “does it really matter?” Relate to that? 🙂
Finally, the time has come to say goodbye to everything good in life! After 40, the law of diminishing happy returns comes into operation with all the force. These horrible days seem to increase at an even faster pace, in direct proportion to your hatred for them. “I just had my birthday, another one already?” They come out of the blue, from nowhere. If only there was a strict law or something that says no to birthdays after 40. If only people stopped singing “Happy Birthday” at the top of their voices as if it was some special occasion. If only there was no need to use just one candle on the cake. If only ……
Next thing you know, you find a not-so-young person offering to assist you or giving a seat in the bus or offering to help you carry your bags at the grocery store. Come on, you can manage fine on your own. Why don’t people mind their own business?
Wow! What would you have not done to get all this attention when you were 20 or even 25 years old! But why do you hate this so much now? It feels like your enemies are pricking pins into effigies of you. It hurts.
Payback time will come. All these people with slim waists, gloating with smiles on their shiny smooth faces and wrinkle-free foreheads will soon have so many birthdays that they will one day hate them too, just like you and me do. That should make you happy for now.
Anyway, “Happy Birthday” to you! Did I hear you say something?