Tell a FriendLeigh AnneLeigh Anne Jasheway ~ Queen of Stress

Happy Birthday Anyway

I called to wish a friend happy birthday the other day and she just snorted, "Thatís easy for you to say! Youíre younger than me!" Okay, so I am ten years, 23 days, 15 hours, and 47 minutes younger than her (but whoís counting?) But I didnít call to rub it in. Really I didnít. Okay, maybe just a little.

The fact is, neither one of us is a spring chicken. Although I do still occasionally molt (especially when I forget my anti-molting cream.) But despite my mid-summer poultry status, I believe birthdays should be celebrated, not whined about.

"Why should I be happy? Iím a year older today!," my friend fumed. I tried to explain to her that she was actually only a day older than she was yesterday, and since she didnít feel awful yesterday, she shouldnít feel awful today. She claimed she didnít understand the new math. Something about how itís not the way she learned it back when she was in school with the dinosaurs.

"Look," I said, ever-the-optimist, "We all get older every day. Why not let your birthday be the one day you rejoice in all the good things that have come with age?"

"What good things?," she whimpered pitifully.

"Well, how about your kids and your husband and the fact that youíve made it another year without doing something really stupid like showing up at the grocery store in your robe and fuzzy rabbit slippers?"

She was quiet for a second, and I thought maybe I had turned her around. But then she exclaimed suddenly, "Iíve gotta go. I feel another gray hair growing in!"

My friend isnít alone in her disdain towards birthdays. I was in line at the store the other day and as the cashier checked the driverís license of the woman in front of me, she exclaimed, "Tomorrowís your birthday! Happy birthday!" The birthday girl turned four shades of red (scarlet, ruby, vermilion, and crimson; I know, I have the lipsticks). Then she whispered, "Thatís okay, I really donít need any of this stuff," and ran out of the store looking like the aging police were hot on her trail.

Remember when birthdays were fun? When we told everyone whoíd listen "Todayís my birthday!" (sometimes even when it wasnít)? When friends who threw us surprise parties and made us wear silly hats were loved, not exposed on an episode of Riki Lake or Montel Williams called "Can You Believe She Has Friends Who Are This Clueless?"

What happened? Why do birthdays go from the high point of our year to the low? I think I may know. Up until age 21, each birthday represents a milestone. When we turn eight, maybe we were allowed to stay up later. At twelve, we got to go to junior high instead of cootie-filled elementary school. Sixteen came around and we were finally allowed to drive on those days we could con our parents out of the car. At eighteen, we were adult enough to vote. At 26, at last, we could date. Well, at least in my family Ė you may have had to wait longer.

But then, we get a little older and we have nothing special to look forward to each birthday. Until now. Iíve developed some new milestones you may want to celebrate with the passing years. I started with age 27 because itís the first year I stopped having anything specific to look forward to.

age 27

You can burn your old high school report cards


You can stop eating stuff you hate


You can say "Iím 29" and mean it


You can say "Iím 29" and not be that far off


You can shave just your ankles once shorts season is over


You can wear any color nail polish you feel like wearing


You can finally get that pony you always wanted


You can sing karaoke and not apologize for it


You can burn your SAT scores


You can buy several outrageously expensive bras


You can use make-up thatís not in your season


You can stop pretending you enjoy football


You can get that hairdo your mom always said made you look like a boy


You can stop saying "Yes," when you mean "Not in this life time!"

Well, that brings us up to my birthday. (Or does it? Only my hairdresser, my ophthalmologist, and my mother know for sure!) Hereís hoping your next birthday is a happy one!

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