My mother threw a surprise birthday party for my fifteenth birthday. It was then that I realized how much I detested my birthday and how much I wanted to celebrate, for lack of a better word, on my own terms.
It was a disaster. I pouted throughout. I sat there while my friends danced to music by Duran Duran, Michael Jackson and Wham!.
I “celebrated” my twenty-first birthday by dancing naked with three topless dancers at a topless bar. I was dragged off a few minutes later by the bar’s bouncer and a few patrons. I was allowed to stay but things weren’t the same. Drunk-dancing publicly with your privates bouncing about does things to the people who witness it. I never went back and the club closed soon after.
Since joining my current employer, I have been subjected to birthday celebratory events. That was until five years ago when I began scheduling my vacation around my birthday. Out of sight out of mind, I thought. I still receive texts from some who insist on wishing me, the recluse, a happy birthday.
On my fortieth birthday, a year after I joined Facebook and Twitter, I received hundreds of messages wishing me a happy birthday. I felt it necessary to respond to each person personally. It took me three days. Someone even wrote a sonnet in my honor which, to this day, I am shocked and incredibly humble about.
Since then, I have scrubbed social media of that blasted date. If there is a day I detest most it is the day of my birth. It was a cold, wet day. My mother was in horrific pain, my father was working. She was brought to the hospital by a neighbor. My father didn’t turn up until the following day. He chose to celebrate my arrival onto this planet before ever laying eyes on me. He gave me his name despite my mother’s objections. “He is Paul. He should be Paul.” Paul, her favorite Beatle.
On my fifth birthday he would slap me hard for accidentally dropping a whole bowl of Frosted Flakes on my coveralls. My mother tore into him and he disappeared for days. From the age of five until the age of sixteen, I saw him sparingly. He died when I was eighteen, at the age of thirty-seven.
On my tenth birthday, I went to the movies with a cousin and his girlfriend. They made out while I stuffed myself with popcorn and Coca-Cola. I kept looking at them from the corner of my eye.
On my forty-fifth birthday, I chose to sleep in. It took me four hours to realize that it was the anniversary of my birth. I received a text from a co-worker that reminded me.
On my forty-sixth, who knows? Who knows?