Back when I turned 23 (or maybe 24…can’t remember) my friends bought me a cake. It was a lovely gesture, even if the cake was from a Walmart somewhere west of Austin, pink, and adorned with the #50 and an ethnic slur.
The cake was brought out of hiding, dressed with the “50” candles you see above, said candles were lit, and a drunken rendition of “Happy Birthday” was sung. And then – in what should have been the first sign of my devious cosmic aura – the cake was fumbled, dropped, and semi caught, leading to the disaster on the left side that was beautifully reconstructed so I could snap this picture.
During the melee, somebody decided it was a good idea to hit Derek in the face with the cake, because what the hell else are you going to do with Walmart floor cake when you’re in the middle of Hunt, Texas?
Since Derek made contact with a birthday cake with my name on it, you can guess what happened next: He ruptured his eardrum the next day and would soon have the pleasure of watching his laptop tumble out of the back of a car. Pat, by virtue of being near my cake and included in this photo, was stricken with a horrific illness courtesy of the mighty Guadalupe. The next picture I have in the timeline is this:
The lesson, as always: do something nice for me and you will have plagues unleashed upon your soul.
They tell me it’s my birthday today, and while I can only take their word for it – I have no independent recollection of this day twenty-six years ago – cancer and the job have dissolved any notion I might have of feeling younger than my years. Birthdays are largely useless after the age of 21; any “celebration” this year will be a watered-down version of my increasingly muted way of celebrating birthdays. Tri-state bar crawls do not peacefully coexist with the billable hour.
I was wondering how I would feel about putting 25 behind me. Would it be a relief? Would I be more appreciative of 26? Would a stupid thing such as a birthday take on any more or less significance given the events of the past year? If you think about it, given that I started studying for the bar around this time last year, I think I had about three days of peace during my 25th year on this planet. Give or take two. I came into 25 with BarBri and I’ll leave 25 by attempting to bill my age in hours in a single day. And those were the high points of 25.
So I guess my official position on birthdays in the post-cancer (PC) era comes down to this: I’d rather not give it any thought, but to the extent that I have to, I just hope 26 doesn’t try to murder me. Twenty-five will go down in the books as the year I’d most like to forget, and the one I’m least able to.