The Other Birthday Party
September 8, 2016
It is safe to surmise that, at some point, you have seen a movie where the lead character’s birthday is being celebrated. There’s a big cake, delicious looking buffet table, waiters with silver trays full of champagne glasses and all the beautiful people standing around smiling. It’s not hard to imagine that you’ve imagined yourself as the guest of honor at such a party. Too soon you forget that these parties are oft interrupted by violence or some form of disaster. Often the “guest of honor” is pulled to the side for bad news, called away from the party by bad news or summoned by the bat-signal. Thus it stands to reason that even if you had such a party you wouldn’t really get to enjoy it.
Admittedly, I too, have fantasized about being at such a party and welcome the devastating distractions it may have in store. However, in reality, I prefer something much simpler. Hosted by my sweet Lil Red (that’s the spouse) with a guest list of one, that’d be Tot AKA the grandson. Some doughnuts (I detest cake), a few fun gifts and, of course, Tot’s rendition of Happy Birthday. Oh, what’s that? You didn’t know it was my birthday? Well it’s not… anymore. That was last week and…no…no…no it’s too late for a belated b-day wish now. By now we’ve already established that you’re an insensitive ass…and you suck. But we’re not here to discuss your inconsideration, we’re here to talk about a birthday party. Not the big screen fancy daydream one you nor I will ever attend. Nor the sweet simple one you’ll never attend (tight budget and all). No, this week we’re going to discuss “the other birthday party”.
Twas midnight of September the second, the eve of my 43rd year, when there came a rapping at the door. Upon opening there stood Frank AKA the Angel of Death; have enough near death experiences and you’re on a first name basis with the reaper too. He waves aside the offer of a smoke, which he often insists upon, then without words indicates that “it was time.” With that he takes my arm and we walk through the wall.
Darkness closed in around and…wait…a flicker of light. A kitchen table, an open pizza box, a single slice topped with one lonely candle. Ah, this must be the ghost of birthdays past, my 30th to be precise, a party of one for no party at all. How…depressing, but if that’s the past then…the ghost of a birthday present wraps its colorful arms around me. Immediately I recognize the bright track work that makes up its arms. It’s the 1978 Hot Wheels T-bird Toss Up race track that I almost didn’t get for my 5th B-day. Because I discovered it hidden beforehand…I had cried at that party…sigh. “F*** you T-bird Toss Up!” I cry as I rip free of its sullen plastic grasp.
WTF Frank? I thought I was dead …is this my life flashing before my eyes? Suddenly, the tribunal is here and…hold on a “tribunal” consists of three and there are four so is this a quadbunal? No it’s the representatives of Heaven, Hell and the world between with special guest Anna Nicole Smith…not sure who she’s here with.
So here we are, middle of nowhere, now what? They seem to be waiting for something. Heaven seems intriguing, Hell inviting and the other guy…well he seems to be saying, Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right and here I am…Is this judgement? If it is, it’s kind of dumb.
Somebody should say something…so I do.
“Good things may come to those who wait, but bad things can come while you’re waiting. So maybe sometimes you should just politely push your way to the front of the line. Because if you wait too long for good things you may be too old to enjoy them…like if you’re waiting for somebody to buy you a scooter.”
There is silence. The tribunal turns in on itself to tribune. Anna slips me a wink…or maybe it’s towards Frank, I don’t…SUDDENLY the tribunal evaporates with a parting nod from the denizen of Heaven. Frank turns to me with a smile and suddenly again we’re back at my front door. Frank takes the offered smoke and hands me a laminated card.
Oh…this was my Right to Continued Existence license renewal…good for one year. It had completely slipped my mind. Thanking Frank I send him on his merry way. Looks like tomorrow I’ll get to live another year - Happy Birthday to me.
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