I received an email from a very sweet friend recently, inviting me to a wine dinner for the winery her husband works for. I love her and wine so it seemed like a fun thing to do. Until I checked the date: April 21st.
I had to write her back and decline politely because I’m not sure if I’ll be enjoying a family dinner or time with Andrew or exactly what (most likely NOTHING). And as much as it pained me to do so, I had to explain that it was because it fell on my birthday and I needed to check in with my family, etc. before committing to a wine dinner.
Have I mentioned I hate birthday people? Not people that have a birthday, because hi, that’s all of us, but people who are ANNOYING about their date of birth and the celebration of it. As you can see, I am not above telling people when my birthday is. That sort of super-secret “oh, I’ll NEVER TELL YOU” behavior is ultra-irritating, too. Listen, it’s a birthday: everyone has one, and geez, I just want to get you a card or post a comment on your Facebook wall. I’m not going to humiliate you with a large gift that I’ll expect to be reciprocated or anything crazy. Have you seen how little teachers are paid?
Please don’t get me wrong: I enjoy birthday dinners, birthday celebrations, and helping those I care about celebrate. I am not above celebrating my own birthday with a small gathering of friends and family and enjoying a good time; although, I never know where to look or how to behave during the singing of “Happy Birthday”, but that’s a different post entirely (Smile at the people? Wave and clap? Faux-conduct an orchestra? All feel terrible to me!).
Still, nothing is more annoying than those people who expect that you drop everything for a day that occurs once a year. We’ve all met the type, either as friends or co-workers. You always know a birthday person because a few months prior, they start inserting birthday references into conversation: “Four months ‘til my birthday!” or “Ohmigod, I really need to start planning my birthday weekend—it’s only 3 months away!” and updating their Facebook status with, “Geraldine is 6 weeks from being 25!” They either a) take the day off work, loudly announcing that they’ll be gone that day because IT’S MY BIRTHDAY and I just don’t feel like coming to work on MY BIRTHDAY or b) they make sure everyone in the office knows due to their comments like, “Yeah, I’d totally do those meeting notes, but you know, it’s MY BIRTHDAY THAT DAY and I just don’t feel like it” and of course, coming into the office the day of with a balloon to remind everyone that TODAY’S THE DAY, forcing you to offer a customary email or cupcake, or my least favorite: the card that everyone signs as a surprise that’s always totally obvious. About 6 weeks prior comes the customary “save the date email” which reads something like:
Hey guys! As you all know, it’s almost my BIRTHDAY and I just wanted to let you know that you should save that weekend for my bangin’ party! I was thinking that on Friday night, we could grab drinks at Ink and then on Saturday night, we’ll be having an 80’s theme night at the Press Club so you can all buy me yummy drinks! And then Sunday, we’ll be doing brunch at Bistro 33. So, don’t forget! I’m gonna be 26, BITCHES! Holla! You all better be there!
(Side note: my most birthday friend is a gratuitous “holla” user, which is why I feel compelled to use it so much in this post. I realize I sound like a total idiot, and no, I don’t ever use it seriously in real life.)
Then comes the BIG PARTY where you’re expected to chip in for dinner, for drinks, for a present, for more drinks and spend the entire night with all of your attention focused squarely on the birthday person…dancing, drinking, eating, and singing. It’s exhausting.
I just don’t get it. Sure, when I was little and there were lots of presents and cake and a big birthday party and cupcakes for my class, I was excited. But somewhere after 21, with all of its Monkey Punch infused glory, the birthday hype has sort of died down. Yes, I’ve celebrated the past few years, but it certainly was not a weekend-long affair that I expected all of my 50 closest friends to come and share with me. Maybe a dinner out or a night at the bar, but that was the extent of it. And on the day? I go to work. I do my job. If someone remembers, I’m happy, and if not, I’m OK too. I expect my parents, Andrew and maybe my super close friends to remember. Not my co-workers, acquaintances and every Facebook friend I have.
The other thing that really chaps my hide about birthday people is this idea that it’s the BIGGEST deal in the world. A few years ago, I’d made plans to go watch a guy I really liked and a close friend play a show at a bar, failing to remember that it was another friend’s birthday. I made a quick appearance at the aforementioned birthday fete at a nightclub, and then went to the show so I could you know, bat my eyelashes and say really witty things while chugging alcohol. The next day, I received a scathing email from my very angry friend saying that he thought I “sucked” for not “making his birthday the number one priority for my night.”
Maybe it’s me, and I’m just a rotten, terrible person, but when I read that, I was all, “WHAT?” and tried to compose something equally scathing about how lame I think he is for still behaving like a four-year-old about birthdays, but I’m not that brave. I issued an apology and he got over it, and for this years birthday extravaganza, I just gave him a firm NO that I couldn’t attend. I DID, however, throw a birthday cake at him on Superpoke AND write on his wall, just so everyone would know that it was indeed his birthday and maybe leave him a comment.
Because everyone should know when it’s your birthday.