Friday, December 2, 2011

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Birthday Evolution

I’ve noticed that, for me at least, as the years rumble by birthdays take on  different meanings. I remember nothing about my first birthday, but it was probably fun. I was likely excited by the gift-wrap being torn on my behalf, the presents being rattled in front of me, and the blur of adults making a fuss over me. What one-year-old kid doesn’t love getting gifts and having adults make a fuss over him? Nonetheless, I doubt I had a clue what the hell the excitement was about.
After that, particularly once I had gotten past my toddler years, I started to realize what birthdays were all about. I knew, tangibly knew, that with each birthday I was legally entitled to call myself one year older than I could the day before, without any fear of being arrested for doing so. (Yes, I worried about stupid stuff like that even at a young age. And I’m much worse now because I’ve worked hard over the years at perfecting my neuroses.)
As if being legally one year older than the day before wasn’t great enough, there were friends at my birthday parties (yes, I still had friends back then) and I got presents, ice cream, birthday cake and hot dogs. Of course, the hot dogs were made entirely of unmentionable meat byproducts and our parents gave them to us only to keep us humble, but the joke was on them because we had no idea that they were supposed to keep us humble. We thought they were special.

Then came my thirteenth birthday, which taught me the true meaning of the phrase “abject fear.” You see, my tribe insisted that on my thirteenth birthday, or rather the Saturday closest to my thirteenth birthday as measured by a lunar calendar, I was required to stand in front of a crowd of people and chant a portion of the Torah in a language I didn’t understand.
To understand just how traumatic this was for me you have to know that I used to break into a cold sweat, quickly followed by a hot sweat and then a scorching sweat that was accompanied by violent shakes whenever I had to speak in front of a crowd of more than one or two people. Yet my Bar Mitzvah took place in the biggest synagogue in Toronto and two or three (I don’t remember which) other boys had their Bar Mitzvahs on the same day as mine. So, counting my family and friends, the other Bar Mitzvah boys’ families and friends, and all of those people who, for reasons I never comprehended, attended services every Saturday, there were easily a few hundred people scrutinizing my performance. It seemed like a million to me, but it was likely well under a thousand or, at very worst, a little more than a thousand.
And we mustn’t forget the chanting. The need to chant rather than speak the Torah portion petrified me more than the rote memorization required to get the words out successfully. When I was in grade six my class was entered in a choir competition in which one of the rules was that none of the members of the class could be excluded. My teacher told me to lip-synch. I wish I was joking about that. That’s how bad a singing voice I had and still have. Think about this. My grade six teacher was worried that my still small voice would ruin the chances of a choir that included twenty to thirty-I forget precisely how many-other prepubescent voices.
Getting back to my Bar Mitzvah, losing my place while chanting my Torah portion and having a couple of old guys mumbling in my ear trying to get me back on track didn’t make it any more enjoyable, but I did eventually reach the finish line. The service wasn’t a fun time, but the party that evening was great and the Bar Mitzvah presents were terrific, so there were some compensations. And today I am a man, or words to that effect.
After my thirteenth birthday, birthdays turned into occasions to celebrate being one year closer to the time when I’d be able, without the fear of serious repercussions, to tell adults to go to hell when they told me to do something.
When I finally became a full-fledged adult who had moved out of his parents’ house and I actually could tell other adults to go to hell without incurring serious repercussions, my birthday sentiment became, “Jeez, that wasn’t nearly as exhilarating as I thought it would be. Who the hell’s going to give me cake and presents now that I’m on my own.”
After that phase, birthdays became a matter of waking up and saying, “What the hell day is it? Oh yeah, it’s one day after yesterday. Well, I might as well get on with it.”
There was one gap in this phase: my fortieth birthday or, to be more precise, the year or so leading up to and including my fortieth birthday. For a reason that is still unknown to me, during that period I learned the true meaning of the phrase “abject depression.” My fortieth hit me extremely hard.
With the exception of my fortieth birthday depression interlude, my “might as well get on with it” stage has lasted well more than a couple of decades and is still ongoing. Nonetheless, I already know what the next phase is going to be because it’s so close I can see it. I expect that on my next birthday, or two or three birthdays from now, tops, it will be here. The next birthday stage is going to be the “well, that’s another year done without dying” phase.
That sounds like a depressing way to celebrate your birthday, but I’m hoping that phase lasts a very long time because I think I know what the one after that will be. It’s probably going to be, the “Damn! Another birthday. When the hell are they ever going to end? Enough, already!” phase. I’m not looking forward to that period. My one hope is that by then I’ll be so senile that my final birthdays will be much like my first: adults fussing over me and changing my diaper, but I won’t have a clue as to what the excitement is about.
If you happen to be reading this on your birthday, have a very happy one! Unless, of course, you are in the same stage of life as I am, in which case, forget I mentioned it. Tomorrow is another day.






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Learning English from net maybe isn't the Best idea ,but in that time my children still were at home, and my only solution was learning English from net. During years i met so many sweet people who helped me lot with English language. I wanna thank to all and each of that fantastic friends. I started to write this post ,with clear toughs about using "Mature woman" as description of myself. Most of net users first tough about words:Mature Women is little dirty tough. But in my language is OK,even more than OK to say:I AM MATURE WOMAN! Well my dear readers I AM VERY PROUD MATURE WOMAN! TAKE IT OR LIVE IT!!!!

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