I have a birthday coming up soon, and I’m already dreading it. I remember how I couldn't wait to turn sixteen, so I could drive, or eagerly awaited the celebration of my twenty-first birthday with thoughts of a trip to the local bar. Now, each year marks the inevitable march of time, and moves me one step closer to the reality of dozens of rampaging grandchildren, disturbing the peace and quiet of my well-earned retirement.
One more year has come and gone, and it will soon be time for presents, congratulations for surviving another year, and a huge birthday cake covered in a multitude of glowing candles. My wife for some reason loves candles. I mean, she reallyyy….. loves candles! She’ll shop at Costco for candles in bulk, and then meticulously, and lovingly place each reminder of my swiftly passing years, gently atop a birthday cake so large, the baker usually schedules his vacation for when he’s finished.
I always ask my wife if there’s really a need for all those candles. A simple cake emblazoned with, "Happy Birthday You Old Fart," and one large candle would suffice. I can only imagine all the future improvements in medical technology, which may lead to increased lifespans. I might someday be faced with a football field sized cake, my wife with a blowtorch, a fire department on standby, and two hundred laughing grandchildren and great-grandchildren eagerly waiting to help extinguish the massive, blazing display.
I'm really not that old. I just sometimes feel like it. I've reached the point in my life where I can still blow out all the candles in one breath, but usually need to sneak out to the deck afterward, to suck in a couple deep breaths of precious, life-giving oxygen. Maybe this year, I'll mess with my wife. I'll hop in my truck, hit every store within fifty miles, buy up all the candles, and hide the cases in the garage. What do you think?
I don't know why that one, tiny, little, virtually invisible, extra candle bothers me so much. There's getting to be so many that I can't really tell the difference from year to year.
Maybe it's not the candle at all. It could be that the candle is simply a reminder that I need to slow down a little. I'm not as young as I once was, and I'm starting to feel it. The problem is, parts of my body sometimes hurt for no reason at all. It's like playing musical chairs with my anatomy. One day one thing hurts and the next day it's another. I woke up a few days ago with tennis elbow. Seem normal? Not if you haven't played tennis in six months. This morning I woke up with a sore and aching back. My wife said,
"Maybe you slept on it the wrong way."
I said, "What do mean by the wrong way? Is there a right way? It's not like I slept in a corner precariously perched on my head with one leg stretched towards the ceiling while the other was twisted behind my head in a difficult, yet classic Yoga pose."
I think this year, I'm going to ask my wife and friends to start some new birthday traditions. How about a single, delicious chocolate cupcake with one lit candle? I won't even mind if the candle is one of those trick ones that you can't blow out. You know the ones. You blow on them for ten minutes, while everybody laughs. They only stop when the paramedics show up, and try to revive you with an oxygen tank.
While I'm at it, how about everyone stop giving me sweaters, hats, nose-hair clippers, and those silly pink or light blue snuggies. I have to admit though. Those things are soooo...... comfy and warm. I better get going and see what my wife is up to. She's been up all night baking, and something smells delicious.
"Honey, why are there dozens of chocolate cupcakes sitting on the dining room table? Are those cases of candles?"