Saturday, September 20, 2008
One free, slightly used birthday
While most people celebrate their birthdays, this year I barely even noticed mine. In fact, if I'd had my way, I would have postponed it for a while. Maybe a good long while.
It's not just that this particular birthday happened to fall on the same day my husband had shock paddles applied to his chest in order to get his heart rhythm back on track. No, after three days in the hospital, that scary episode took a miraculous turn for the better and he's just fine now.
That's not it. It's just that I've had so many birthdays over the years, I'm getting a little worried that they might not go on forever. I used to look forward to each birthday. At certain points in our lives, everyone feels that way, I know. But now. . .now I approach each new birthday first with surprise and then with dread. I CAN'T be that old! Can I be??
I have such mixed feelings about my birthday. I don't want a new one every year (which is why I'm offering this one for free), but I do absolutely LOVE my birth date:
September 17. (Say it out loud. Luscious, isn't it?)
September 17 may just be the best month and day combination of the entire year. I'm always a little sorry for people who weren't born on September 17. Which is why it just KILLS me that I can't really claim it legally. I WAS born on September 17--I was, I WAS--but my birth certificate says otherwise. It says I was born on September 18. Can you imagine? September 18 is UGLY. (Sorry, 9/18ers)
I can't help it that some time shortly after my birth, a clerk, obviously wildly drunk while typing up my certificate, besides spelling my first name wrong, and then spelling my middle name wrong, went on to type September 18 instead of the sensually sibilant September 17.
And all my life, it hasn't seemed to matter. Not any of it. My social security card has my name spelled right. My driver's license has my name spelled right. My marriage license has my name spelled right. For years and years and YEARS I got away with it. Nearly all of my life I blatantly used September 17 as my birth date--mainly because it IS my birth date.
Then, somewhere in the late 80s, after I had used my actual, truly beloved DOB for more years than the DMV clerk had lived on this earth, I made the mistake of chit-chatting while I waited for my license. (Never do that. Don’t even look them in the eye.) I thought she’d get a kick out of my story about the drunken clerk and the wrong date. She even smiled a little. But then she put 9/18/ on my license. She was sorry, she said, but that was--didn’t I agree?--my LEGAL birth date.
She was heartless and I was heartbroken. Every time I look at my driver's license I feel a little sick. It's wrong. . .so wrong. But the damage is done. Every official document now lists an untruth about me.
But enough about that sorry incident. Who is willing to take this birthday off my hands? I'll go back to having them sooner or later. I'll have to, I guess, or face the consequences.
But please don't ask me for my REAL birth date. September 17 is taken.