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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    “Mo’ candles, mo’ problems”

    My birthday rights have been completely, totally and unequivocally violated. It’s ludicrous, outrageous, preposterous. It’s a downright travesty.

    As I write this column, I am literally an hour and 44 minutes into my birthday. Before you ask, I have turned the oh-so-worthless age of 23, a gateway age to nothing. This age offers none of the fabled trappings of other great birthday ages we all know and love. Take driving, cigarettes, strip clubs, voting, gambling, alcohol. These are all bestowed upon you, if only ceremoniously, on the 16th, 18th and 21st birthdays, respectively.

    If the early hours of 23 are any indication, work is the present for this birthday. Staring down the barrel of two major midterms, my birthday has been held at gunpoint, gagged and taken hostage by a workload that won’t wait for a more opportune day to perform its robbery of my time. My (birthday) rights to no work, all play have been suspended faster than a Guantanamo enemy combatant’s.

    Eventually, I suppose, the birthday must inevitably give in to the terroristic demands of work, right? At some point, you just have to accept the facts: Your birthday will inevitably slip into a more meaningless item each year forward, buried under more work, obligation and, frankly, time.

    My dad wisely weighed in on my complaining that my birthday was going to be filled with studying instead of fun (ie. drinking, Chuck E. Cheese, etc.) since it fell on a weekday. “”You’ll find, as time goes on, there will always be something that has to get done, that life won’t stop for you or your birthday. A birthday just means less.””

    It’s true. Not only does your birthday mean less, you mean less. Or at least, the people around you stop patronizing you, pretending that your birthday means as much to everyone else as it does to you.

    Simple math can be used to explain the whole thing.

    As children, each birthday makes up a large proportion of our lives. When you turn 3, that year proportionally represents one-third of your known life. The fact that it represents such a large percentage of your life entitles you to act like the world revolves around you. A child can eat cake like a starved pig from its trough, with smears of chocolate frosting covering his face in complete disregard of table etiquette, and not only is it not frowned upon, it’s considered cute. When you open your presents and you don’t like a present you got, you can scream till you’re red in the face, spiking it on the ground for effect if you really hate it. It’s acceptable behavior.

    Why? Because the world is willing to pretend it revolves around you.

    As a 9-year-old, the one-ninth of your life still gives you privileges to pretend, they’re just not as wide. You are no longer allowed to do exactly whatever you want, but it’s still kosher to pelt the one kid you didn’t even want at your birthday party in the face with ammo from the ball pit in Peter Piper Pizza. You’re just expected to keep most of the food in your mouth and open some presents.

    By the time you’ve turned 22, the birthday-year-to-total-life ratio has really plummeted, and there is a strong negative correlation between it and your “”world revolves around me”” allowance. Yeah you’re allowed, encouraged even, to puke your guts out and receive some help. But you better be damn sure to at least feign appreciation for a disliked present unless you’re willing to end a friendship or relationship for it.

    And it’s all downhill from there. If you’re not completely enthralled with the idea of Geico lowering your car insurance rates when you turn 25, there’s really not a whole lot of birthday left to look forward to.

    There is a definite return to birthday glory in the later years of life, however, creating an inverse parabola of birthday excitement from age 0 to however-long-you-make-it, if you will. The return of birthday excitement and narcissism increases as you’re old enough to appreciate each year extra you’re able to make it to. A 99-year-old feels pretty rewarded to get to a birthday, surely. Not only can you more appreciate the birthday once again, but others have returned to allowing you to do whatever you want, just happy to still have you around.

    Slow acceptance of these facts will help in the transition from birthday meaningfulness to birthday as just another day.

    On the other hand, maybe next year my birthday will land on a weekend, with me in Las Vegas – the city where you’re encouraged to revert to your most childish impulses. And if you’re depressed about your decreasing birthday-year-to-total-life ratio too, I’ll see you there.

    Shurid Sen is a senior majoring in political science. He can be reached at

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