I had a birthday this week, and not the good kind. The good kind solely involves the numbers 16, 18 or 21. The good kind involves getting rights you never had before, like driving, voting and throwing away your fake I.D.
I miss getting new rights. Seems like your rights top out at about the age of 21, and after that the only new thing you get every year is birthday cards which get more and more jokingly ominous. The Grim Reaper standing in your doorway saying "Don't worry, I'm just here for the cat. Today."
This birthday was not a milestone or a round number, just a spear-carrier, really, in the story of my life. If the traditional anniversary gift for being married 50 years is gold, in birthday terms this off-year I can probably expect...hold on, let me look it up. Ah yes. One of those rubber gardening mats that you kneel on.
The great thing about birthdays in the First World in the 21st Century is the freebies you can score if you have no shame and a good map app. I could have eaten two full free breakfasts, a free sandwich for lunch, a hot pretzel or a bagel or tacos for a snack, a free burrito for dinner, and free ice cream from about five different places.
Edible freebies are really just a birthday present for Fitbit salesmen from coast to coast.
I think the piñata is the best birthday tradition any culture has invented, mainly for its symbolic resonance to life itself. You swing blindly, hoping to release the good stuff but thwarted by some unseen dude who is moving the target and laughing at your lame attempts.
Meanwhile others hover nearby and risk mortal injury for the chance to snatch up the bounty before you can. Religions have been made out of less.
On your birthday in some parts of eastern Canada, apparently, your nose gets greased with butter by your friends to ward off bad luck. If you are standing there with a buttered nose, to me it sounds like they failed.
In Ireland, supposedly, a child is held upside down and bumped on the floor as many times as he has years, plus one more for good luck. See "nose grease," above.
Being American, I was not blindfolded or greased, but only because I avoided turning on the TV.
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