Rubber Chicken Scratchings: Hey, America, you’re not the only one getting older this weekIt’s my birthday week! By the time you read this, I will have been on this planet for close to 47 years.
By: Brian Matuszak, Budgeteer News
It’s my birthday week! By the time you read this, I will have been on this planet for close to 47 years. Of course, that doesn’t take into account the other times I’ve been on the planet through my previous lives, including a door-to-door wicker salesman, Mae West’s personal foot masseuse and a rabid badger in a city park just outside of Dubuque.
I raise the subject of my birthday not to receive gratuitous birthday wishes, or even gifts of some sort … although I could use a new “Star Wars” travel mug. No, I bring it up simply because I love birthdays. More specifically, I love my birthday.
I share my birth date with Doc Severinsen, Ringo Starr and Shelly Duvall. Coincidentally, this is the same group for whom
I facilitated a round-table discussion at a Third Banana convention in the early ’80s. (Interesting story: Ringo was filling in for George Harrison, who couldn’t make it due to “extenuating circumstances” ... which we found out later was a euphemism for “couldn’t care less.”)
Summer birthdays rule. Your twice-a-year loot intake is evenly spaced out between your special day and Christmas. (And since ’98, when my daughter Kaylee was born, I’ve been able to toss in bonus summer loot with Father’s Day!)
My wife Sue isn’t so lucky. Her birthday is in November, so her loot days are backed up near the end of the year. And my brother Brad has it even worse; his birthday is Dec. 23. Works out for me, though, as I have to get him only one present due to the birthday/holiday two-day combo rule. (Brad thinks this is real, so don’t blow it for me, OK?)
Look, it’s not my fault the folks didn’t plan out Brad’s birthday as perfectly as mine or our brother Bruce’s. Bruce was born one year after me. One year! My dad must have been some sweet talker. My daughter was born 12 years ago, and I still have to fill out a 10-page “document of intent” if I so much as raise an eyebrow at my wife.
When I was a kid, my mom always planned a big day o’ fun for my special day. This included inviting all my friends over to the house, playing games like Pin the Tail on the Donkey, ripping the paper off presents with more manic glee than George Kessler ripping through dew point readings, eating a paper plate loaded full of chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and chocolate ice cream and then going outside to run around like monkeys until the sugar wore off and the kids went home. Now that is a party. Nowadays, kids don’t have birthday parties, they have “birthday events” that are held at “important family places” like Great Lakes Aquarium, Incline Station or Vertical Endeavors — wonderful places to bring the kids, surely, but, man, is it structured. You have to fill out paperwork and make reservations and plan a guest list and sign insurance waivers and make a gift registry for your child and on and on and on. Honestly, where’s the fun?
I liked my mom’s way better. She made a few phone calls, blew up balloons, baked a cake and took pictures while we all showed off our gap-toothed smiles, surrounded by ragged piles of wrapping paper and soggy, chocolate-y paper plates. Then she cleaned up while we were outside being kids. Simple, but effective.
I don’t mean to sound like one of those cranky “things-were-better-in-my-day” 47-year-old guys. But you know what? The more of these birthdays that fly by, the more certain I become that things were better back then. And I need to consciously take some time to remember those days in more detail before they fade away. Some of the memories are already fuzzy around the edges (probably a majority of them have the bad stuff edited out to make them more pleasant to dredge up and look at), but I can still find them back in the many crooks and crannies of my old dusty brain, and I cherish them more than I can ever document here.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some paperwork to fill out for my wife — it’s my birthday!
Brian Matuszak has been difficult and demanding since February 2008. He is co-founder of Renegade Comedy Theatre and founder of Rubber Chicken Theater, which you can become a fan of on Facebook (hint, hint). He likes Barnes & Noble gift cards and wears a size XL T-shirt … just in case you were wondering.