Santa Cruz Good Times

Friday
Aug 28th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

The Birthday Industrial Complex

sven_davis2Happy birthday to you..." You know the song, it's one of the most widely known songs in the English language, translated and widely used in 18 more.

"Happy birthday to youuu..."

At a typical party, everybody starts singing the song at the same time, but in 12 different keys. By the second line, dominant voices have begun to define a common melody, and other voices are shifting to match it. It's still too early to say whether everybody will be on the same note by the end. Third line:

"Happy birthday dear Richard..."

Getting close, but oh no! The line fractures into a chaos of different versions of his name plus several nicknames, and some, friends of friends, are mumbling because they don’t know his name at all. Worse, there are some trained singers in the crowd who can't help but harmonize, thinking they're adding color to the song but are confusing the non-singers, who are now accidentally singing a few words in what are normally very challenging, avant-garde micro-tonal intervals. Heading towards the big finish now ...

"Happy birthday to you!"

Finally. Candles are blown out or shot glasses are drained, or both, and the party moves on.

Planning for your birthday can be tricky. As it approaches, there’s that whole “what are we going to do this time” thing. Friends start to ask about whether there will be some sort of celebration. If you want to just have a big dinner party in a private restaurant venue like the Backstage Lounge, that's easy. If you want to have 40 friends skydive together and form a big peace sign in the air, that's going to take a lot of work. Your partner, if you have one, is generally expected to do a good chunk of the planing and execution. That’s a lot of work for the skydiver’s wife, but at least he knows what he wants. If you’re kind of “meh” about the whole thing, it’s your partner who ends up looking lame about your birthday because in our culture it seems they’re the ones expected to make something great happen. The whole thing can get ugly and awkward, and the easiest thing may be to tell everybody you'll be out of town. Don't worry if you can't afford a trip, you don't have to actually go. Just stock up on movies and frozen pizza and stay away from the windows for a few days.

Personally, I’m somewhat ambivalent about my birthday. It makes me self-conscious. I used to lie about the actual date... well, to be more precise, I made people guess what my birthday was, and acted absolutely incredulous when they guessed correctly. “Who told you?” I’d demand. “Nobody, I swear!” they’d say, so happy about their psychic abilities. That kind of thing sounds mean to me now and I no longer do it, but I did like getting birthday cards all through the year.

My birthday falls between Thanksgiving and Christmas, which is when most people are in party overload anyway. I've always wanted to have a summer birthday to allow for outdoorsy group activities, which would be fun for everybody and wouldn’t feel so all about me. I'm going to move it to August one of these years. If birthdays can be adjusted for Jesus and George Washington, I don't see why they can't be moved for us. After the Sept. 11 attacks, that became a pretty crappy birthday. Just move it. Tax day? Feb. 29? Super Bowl Sunday? Same birthday as another family member? Move it.

Birthdays aren't just about celebrating your birth, they're also a chance to be confronted with the reality of how long it's been since that day. Holy cow, we think, how did we manage to get this old? But as they say, getting old is tough, but consider the alternative. As we get older, and gravity seems to act most strongly on out outer surfaces, birthdays become more like a celebration of survival. 80 years? Well played, sir. Still, if you really want to hand out annual achievement awards, look to wedding anniversaries. They stayed alive AND they stayed married. Good on you, mate. My parents just celebrated 50 years together! That puts them in a pretty elite club these days. Please join me in raising a glass to them.

Which birthdays are most important? It's interesting how we consider multiples of five and ten to be more important birthdays. It's one of those things that feels like it's important but it doesn't really mean anything at all. There are a few milestones with some significance, like 13 (teenager), 18 (can go to adult prison), 21 (can drink too much and do something stupid enough to go to adult prison), 50 (time for the colonoscopy), and finally the golden age of senior discounts.

Personally I'm more excited by prime numbers, which get farther apart as the numbers get higher. My mother had a creative approach; I remember a party where she celebrated the 13th anniversary of her 29th birthday.

So to all of you having a birthday this year: Happy Birthday! For your present I got you this page in the paper; use it to fold into a nifty party hat!

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

The Meaning of ‘LIFE’

With a new documentary film about his work, and huge exhibits on both coasts, acclaimed Santa Cruz nature photographer Frans Lanting is having a landmark year. But his crusade for conservation doesn’t leave much time for looking back

 

Seasons of Opportunity

Everything in our world has a specific time (a season) in which to accomplish a specific work—a “season” that begins (opportunity) and ends (time’s up). I can feel the season is changing. The leaves turning colors, the air cooler, sunbeams casting shadows in different places. It feels like a seasonal change has begun in the northern hemisphere. Christmas is in four months, and 2015 is swiftly speeding by. Soon it will be autumn and time for the many Festivals of Light. Each season offers new opportunities. Then the season ends and new seasons take its place. Humanity, too, is given “seasons” of opportunity. We are in one of those opportunities now, to bring something new (Uranus) into our world, especially in the United States. Times of opportunity can be seen in the astrology chart. In the U.S. chart, Uranus (change) joins Chiron (wound/healing). This symbolizes a need to heal the wounds of humanity. Uranus offers new archetypes, new ways of doing things. The Uranus/Chiron (Aries/Pisces) message is, “The people of the U.S. are suffering. New actions are needed to bring healing and well-being to humanity. So the U.S. can fulfill its spiritual task of standing within the light and leading humanity within and toward the light.” Thursday, Aquarius Moon, Mercury enters Libra. The message, “To bring forth the new order in the world, begin with acts of Goodwill.” Goodwill produces right relations with everyone and everything. The result is a world of progressive well-being and peacefulness (which is neither passive nor the opposite of war). Saturday is the full moon, the solar light of Virgo streaming into the Earth. Our waiting now begins, for the birth of new light at winter solstice. The mother (hiding the light of the soul, the holy child), identifying the feminine principle, says, “I am the mother and the child. I, God (Father), I Matter (Mother), We are One.”

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of August 28

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Land of Plenty

Farm to Fork benefit dinner for UCSC’s Agroecology Center, plus a zippy salsa from Teresa’s Salsa that loves every food it meets

 

If you knew you had one week to live, what would you do?

Make peace with myself, which would allow me to be at peace with others. Diane Fisher, Santa Cruz, Network Engineer

 

Comanche Cellars

Michael Simons, owner and winemaker of Comanche Cellars, once had a trusted steed called Comanche, which was part of his paper route and his rodeo circuit, from the tender age of 10. In memory of this beautiful horse, he named his winery Comanche, and Comanche’s shoes grace the label of each handcrafted bottle.

 

Cantine Winepub

Aptos wine and tapas spot keeps it casual