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Born This Way

December 6, 2013

Some years, birthdays are amazing. Other times, good intentions don’t seem to pan out.

I can’t even remember how old I was for one of my favorite birthday celebrations. It was when I was living out in California, and in a year when my birthday fell on a Saturday. I decided that I was going to open and close my favorite pub, The Albatross in Berkeley. When it opened, I walked in the doors, and didn’t leave until they kicked me out. Throughout the day, people came, brought food, hung out, and left. The party was organic, free-flowing mass of good times and great friends. And in the end, there was just me and the future Mrs. Fussy who graciously took me home.

Then there are birthdays like the big one last year. I got lobsters for everyone, sparkling wine for the adults, and we all sat down for a very special supper. Except it turns out the kids don’t like lobster. Who knew? Disaster was averted, and both Mrs. Fussy and I feasted on two lobsters each, but it didn’t quite go as planned.

Kids add a real element of uncertainty into any event. This year, I’m going to do most of my celebrating on Saturday. But the twist is that I’m going to do it alone. Maybe the movie Defending Your Life has buried itself too deep in my psyche.

Seriously, I’ve watched this picture more times than I care to admit. Anyhow, there is this one scene at the beginning that I’ve always loved. Daniel (played by Albert Brooks) is talking about his birthday plans with a friend, who is surprised that Daniel wants to be alone. You can watch it here, or read the dialogue below:

JEEP FRIEND (James Eckhouse): You don’t want to be alone on your birthday.

DANIEL MILLER (Albert Brooks): What better day to be alone? I don’t have that hang-up like other people do about your birthday and parties. You were born alone, you should celebrate it. Celebrate aloneness, that’s what birthdays are for.

JEEP FRIEND: Yeah, I never thought of it like that.

DANIEL MILLER: It’s a pitiful theory.

It is a pitiful theory. Human beings aren’t born alone. At the very least our mother is there. But most babies are surrounded by love and care on the day they are born. Still, I can relate to the notion of wanting to be alone. These days it is such a rare thing. And there is a certain peace to it, which allows for a chance at self-reflection.

Today, I don’t get to be alone. It’s a Friday, dammit. And there are important things to do. Tonight is shabbat, and that’s the night we have roast chicken. But I’ll get a bottle of something special to go along with dinner. With luck I’ll get the custards made too. It will be fun to have a birthday cooking project, now that my recent batch of stock is reduced and safe in the freezer.

Saturday is a different story.

For my birthday, Mrs. Fussy has given me the day off. And I’m totally going to spend the entire day in a self-reflective meditative state… playing pinball. The pinball museum on the Jersey shore beckons, and pinball is one of my life long obsessions that predates food. I started playing when I was two years old. I played it as a moody teenager. It played a pivotal role in my relationship with the future Mrs. Fussy when we were in college. And to this day, I find it to be a great way to get out of a funk and just exist within the moment.

Part of me would like to bring Young Master Fussy along for the day. It’s not that he’s too young or can’t reach the flippers. It’s just that I expect he won’t have the stamina to play for hours on end. Also, my attentions would need to be split between the game and my son.

Certainly, it would be time well spent, but perhaps we’ll save that for another day.

Who knows how this birthday will turn out. Maybe it will be like that great time that I walked all over Berkeley on my own from one delicious thing to the next. Or maybe it will be like my thirtieth where I tried to recreate the magic of an earlier birthday celebration without much success.

Either way, I’m looking forward to some quality pinball time and exploring another part of this crazy state. And tonight it will be good to celebrate my birthday much like the day I was born, surrounded by loved ones.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Debra permalink
    December 6, 2013 2:00 pm

    Have fun playing pinball – I used to be quite good a long time ago. Happy Birthday Daniel.

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