Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Birthdays are for breakups.

A highly scientific examination on why birthdays are the most popular day of the year to leave behind the comforting terrain of couplesville for the thrilling territory of singletons. At least for me, that is.

The odds of breaking up with your significant other on your birthday are 1/365. In my case, however, I’m grossly off the curve as I’ve been batting closer to a .50 average. I never placed much thought on how “ahead” of the game I was until the year my 21st birthday rolled around. Twenty-one, that delicious age where the once pimply and awkward magically slip into a realm of adult possibilities. That darling age where all the teenage angst and attitude are traded in for a heaping helping of divine sophistication. Sophistication, maturity, growth…oh how the pressure of hiding my past was becoming all but too much to handle in stealth so I promised myself that before I turned the big 2-1, I would finally reveal the most uncomfortable secret I’ve had to hide for the past few years: I was dumped on my 18th birthday.

He was someone I shared a class with and on my birthday, he took me to see an esteemed jazz ensemble play at one of the premier concert halls in our area. It was all fun and games until a close girl friend of mine tagged along for the second part of the date (hitting the local arcade!) but because it was MY birthday, hormones and emotions ran rampant as I flipped out on the guy when I suspected he was getting too close to my girl friend. He promptly dropped me off at my house, bid me a “buh-bye,” and left me in an embarrassing chaos of tears and regret as I spent the rest of my birthday rolled up in fetal position on my bed.

The whole story was a bit more complicated than that and in recent years I’ve confused some of the details to add drama and tragic flair to my unfortunate tale. I maintain the guy was never my boyfriend to begin with (it helps me mend and defend a broken ego) and like to exaggerate the scene where he mercilessly left me on the streets in the middle of a cold night for dead. Because after all, who dumps a girl on her birthday?!

I simplified the “event” in a four-part blog post I rolled out the week before my 21st birthday. It was sort of my way of saying, “Yes, everyone, I was indeed dumped on my birthday but yes, everyone, I am SO over it now” and continued to repost the story each following birthday on whichever blog I happened to be nursing at the time. Which means I should be posting my epic 18th birthday story around now BUT remember I said breakups on my birthday is kind of an ongoing thing?

Well, on my 21st birthday, no less than two days after I first posted about my 18th birthday, I broke up with a new guy I’ve been seeing for a while. It was an ill-managed long-distance relationship and the piss and vinegar was he didn’t call me on my 21st birthday to say, “Hello, beautiful. Happy birthday.” In fact, he forgot to call me altogether so I was left with no choice but to give that one the dreaded ax. Striiiiike two for me.

Which leads us to wonder, what is it with me and my birthdays? Why is it the hours confined within one particular day each year such prime time for shattered hearts? How is it I’ve let go of half of all relationships that have ever meant something to me on a day that’s supposed to be filled with cakes, balloons, and kisses rather than Dear John letters?


Maybe it’s just that. The mere expectation of feeling special on a day to honor my existence is killing my chances of having long-lasting relationships because each year “that” day turns the corner, I shed my I-don’t-like-attention-from-anyone disorder for a secret desire to be treated like, well, a queen for the day. Maybe I publicly dismiss any form of recognition on every day of the year EXCEPT that ONE day where I develop and harbor an intense appetite to be…loved.

Inevitably, the heightened anticipation of all things warm and fuzzy on my birthday invariably supersedes the reality of a day that is mundane and normal for everyone else so my relationships have suffered as a result. The events of the day usually culminate in a disaster of misplaced emotions and disappointment but I’m not asking for much, people. Simply don’t flirt with my friend and just CALL ME and we’ll more likely than not see another year together.

So birthdays are for breakups but I’m sort of in a relationship I can’t lose right now. When Patrick asked me last week, “Your birthday’s coming up. What do you want to do?”

I could only answer, “Um…” Take the baby for a day, treat me to an hour-long massage at Burke Williams, buy me a dozen Forever Roses, sell your baseball card collection to make more room in the closet for me, love me, LOVE ME, SPOIL ME!!!!! “Um…” I continue, “Just…be sweet.”

“I’m always sweet,” he tells me.

“Yeah, for the most part,” I say. “Just be sweet.”

“Sounds good. You’re easy,” he decides.

Happy almost-birthday to me.
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