Monday, November 21, 2011

Birthdays

Back then, and I mean over a decade ago, the last week, or maybe even two leading up to your birthday would be marked with a little countdown. And the birth date itself would be circled furiously in an orange or red sketch pen with oodles of exclamation points as though to emphasize the already obvious. By then the invites would have already been sent out and the party would have been planned right down to the last detail. There would be colorful crepe paper adorning the ceiling and the actual cake itself would be this thing of sugary, icing laden wonder in the form of your favourite caped crusader. The Nintendo NES would be overheating at this juncture; unable to cope with the fifteen odd kids desperate to kick ass on Legendary or Excite Bike (never press B, it causes the engine to overheat!).
Probably the only game to have a password cheat for the first level.
The game on pause, the ceiling fans switched off, and the lights turned off for good measure, the cake; lit with candles and glowing in the dark like a star to guide lost sailors, makes its way to the hallway. The cake is cut, candles are blown out and the kids sing a mangled, unorchestrated version of the birthday song (which is copyrighted I hasten to add) and there are enough rounds of Coca Cola to go around. The kids hand over the birthday presents, play one more game of Spartan and head on home. After the euphoria wears off, the presents are opened and reveled in. And of course, you get to wear your birthday outfit to school on the day and ditch the class you hate most on pretext of distributing candy-a sort of reverse Halloween, to the other teachers in the staff room, with your best mate in tow for the ride.

Nowadays, birthdays are far less remembered by yourself and the others around you. It's come to a disappointing low, that unless you're on Facebook; where your details are plastered across for everyone to see, people take it for granted to forget. And gone is the enthusiasm. You dread the day you turn a whole year older. Every birthday seems to weigh heavily on you and demands thorough introspection: What did you do to warrant merit this past year? Did you do any of the things that you wanted to do by the time you are your age? And most importantly: There are scores of people out there at your age who have gotten so much more out of their lives than you ever have . And needless to say the birthday parties of today all seem to be seeking a legitimate excuse to get borderline drunk and amble back home to nurse the impending hangover. Gone are the days of innocence, when we enjoyed waking up in the morning and running amok all over the house screaming, "It's my birthday!!"

Today we are reminded that we are losing time on our goals and ideals, that another year has come and gone silently, our responsibilities and our heartaches abound and that our friends (save for the closest), have moved on with their lives and the parties of yesteryear can never be replicated. Every birthday is a sobering wake up call to what we still have to do. The only saving grace is that you get pampered by your folks at home and a card to where ever in the world you're living, that says in Hallmark words :
"You're my little baby and I love you very much, sweetheart. Happy Birthday"


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