COMMON RUIN

“Ars longa, vita brevis”

Birthday

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On this day 26 years ago, I reluctantly came into this world. (I’m told the doctor had some difficulty removing me during my mother’s Caesarean section, resulting in me taking approximately five minutes longer to be born than my twin brother—It’s as if I already knew what awaited me.)

The weather this morning is almost as if delivered by the gods. As I am not one for the sunshine, I find overcast skies ideal. The temperature is also mild, which is pleasant. I sincerely hope these conditions will persist throughout the day.

Birthdays ceased being events to celebrate and began being somber occasions for self-reflection and criticism several years ago. “What have I accomplished?” “Is my life’s trajectory acceptable?” These are the questions that inevitably arise. Of course, there is also the infamous “I am a year closer to death, how marvelous” thought that enters into practically everyone’s mind after a certain age. I honestly do not understand how some adults can celebrate this abysmal reminder of one’s mortality; I suspect the ‘happiness’ displayed by many of them is simply a façade, so as to appear as though they are enjoying the festivities arranged by their loved ones.

When I was young, I yearned for what seemed to be the benefits of adulthood. Driving, girlfriends, general autonomy, it all seemed so very impressive. Hence I welcomed birthdays with much gusto. In addition to my eagerness to get older, the presents, pizza, and ice cream cake were delightful. I completely failed to appreciate the splendor of not having responsibilities, of enjoying the ignorance of childhood. To relive those years, now that would be something.

While I am on the subject of aging, one thing that has always puzzled me is why some women get absolutely livid whenever a man inquires as to their age. Some people even go so far as to condemn the act as representing poor etiquette. Is this a symptom of patriarchy or some other cultural byproduct I am unaware of? The evolutionary psychology crackpots would undoubtedly attribute it to women attempting to conceal their age in order to appear more youthful, thus maintaining their level of desirability to high status males, or some other such nonsense. I have yet to receive a satisfactory answer from the women I have asked, unfortunately.

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