I woke up yesterday older than I was the day before. Not a day older, a whole year older! Now when I fill out some dumb form or an on-line survey, I have to remember to check the box below the one I was just getting used to. Why? Really was this Monday any different from the one last week? Oh, I get it; it was my birthday, but that is such a ruse perpetrated by card makers and jewelry hungry women. Yes, it was the anniversary of the date recorded on some hospital record in a city that I never lived in (except that one day), but that date is nothing more than random, and birthdays (well, my birthday) should not be considered so significant, and certainly not important.
June 2nd, my birthday, that is the day that my mother and her Air Force obstetrician decided to schedule her cesarian section. Totally random. Why not June 1st or the 7th? It is technically elective surgery, you can do it whenever you want. Seriously, everyone knows you can’t win one of those baby-store pools with a cesarian; the mother gets to pick her delivery date and she will always be exactly right.
In a way, even those more traditional "dilate-and-push" deliveries are pretty random, too. On average, how many women actually give birth on their “due date”? Everyone’s body reacts differently; sometimes the babies come early; sometimes they come late. So what’s the big deal about the arrival date? (Other than the obvious relief of an empty womb.) Are birthdays really all that important? My business partner, Adriana Joleigh’s twins were born premature, so does that mean they are actually younger than their age reveal? Their scheduled birthday would have been much later.
There are some people that think we should base our age on the date of conception. That is one date that is not very random. But that brings in a whole other set of complexities. I have known women that in order to calculate their date of gestation, they would have to first have paternity DNA tests done and then compare it to a contemporaneously written diary. Even that might have a flaw, what if the little swimming guy is having so much fun (at the expense of that Friday night bottle of wine Daddy drank) that he decides to hang around the water park riding the tubes and splashing in the pools before doing a leisurely back stroke up to Lady Egg’s place and doing the nasty? It might not be until Saturday afternoon before Baby Embryo is conceived. And what if Mommy suddenly remembers all of that inappropriate attention Daddy was showing the visiting college babe at the party last night and throws Daddy Donor out of the house Saturday morning? Nine months later her diary is still going to be off by one whole day. See, even conception age is random.
I guess we do have to measure age somehow. And of course, we use the Gregorian calendar, not the Jewish calendar, not the Zodiac calendar; no we use the calendar with the biggest flaw in the history of time keeping. The Gregorian calendar is roughly approximated on the Earth’s solar orbit and measured by the Atomic clock that is so accurate that every four years we have to sneak a 29th day into the month of February. Yes, our age is measured by the great Monk-devised system that managed to skip an entire year! It went from 1 BCE to 1 AD. What happened to year ZERO? Hey, maybe we should do that each millennium. Think about it, we would never have had that horrific Y2K scare if we had only followed the precedent and gone from December 31, 1999 to January 1, 2001. If was good enough back then, why not now?
Oh, and about those so-called leap years, do people who are born on February 29th really age slower that the rest of us? See what I mean about the randomness of birthdays? Leap-babies go through life like the polar opposites of dogs. Think about it, I turned 14 ½ yesterday that sounds much better than the box I have to check on those surveys. Geez, here’s an idea: we could measure our birthdays in months instead of years. Yup, yesterday I turned the ripe old age of 696. That would make me feel almost Biblical. Oh, wait a second, that would really mess up my budget if everyone had a birthday every month, never mind.
Numerical age is a number, nothing more. The great author Zora Neal Hurston went her entire adult life telling people she was ten years younger than the records actually indicate. And once while growing up, our entire family had to renew our military IDs due to a change in my father’s assignment. My ID came back with my older brother’s birthdate. The whole time we lived in Puerto Rico, I was four years older than all my friends in school. Believe me, when you are on the up-side of the hill, being a little older is not so bad. Once you top the crest and start down the other side, being older is not a preference. No, at this point I think I would rather be a few years younger (especially when I see all those beautiful women still making their way up the hill).
Don’t get me wrong, as dumb as the idea of birthdays is, I still celebrate them. Gifts, cards, flowers, dinners, I do it all. Well, most of the time I do it all. I was born with the defect of a Y chromosome, so I tend to miss a few. It is a little known fact that Bill Gates wrote the code for Outlook long before he wrote his famous (or is it infamous) operating system. He realized that he needed something to help him remember his wife’s birthday. Every time he forgot, the lovely Melinda would throw all of his stuff out of the windows. Yup, that’s where the name comes from.
For my lady friends out there, please don’t follow in Melinda Gates’ footsteps, if your male significant other messes up, it is not really his fault. If you check chapter 12 of the Male Handbook and Users Guide, third edition, volume II, you will note that it is required that men forget at least 35% of all important dates, including birthdays, anniversaries, first kisses, and your mother’s visit. Please go easy on him, the last thing this world needs is another Windows operating system.
Seriously, thank you to all of my friends, from all over the globe, for your wishes on my 14 ½ birthday. It meant a lot to me to hear from every one of you. I even got a text message from my ex-wife (she spelled 4 out of 6 words right; she either had help or was using a dictionary). I guess we are all happy I'm still alive and made it through another year (okay, maybe not the ex-wife). So until next time, may you all feel as young as your best deluded self-image.