"With the certitude of a true believer, Vellya Paapen had assured the twins that there was no such thing in the world as a black cat. He said that there were only black, cat-shaped holes in the universe."
-- Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Glass is Half-Empty Without a Half-Birthday

Today is April 30th.  Tomorrow is May 1st.  And tonight, at exactly midnight, if I choose to stay up that late, I can celebrate turning 36 1/2 years old.  But I probably won't because it feels fake.  It feels forced.  The truth is that I do not have a half-birthday, and it's time I come to terms with this painful omission in my life.

Believe it or not, some people do not celebrate half-birthdays.  I don't understand stand this.  We all remember how important age was when we were kids, how important SPECIFIC age was.  Just the other night, I asked a friend's son how old he was, and he told me, "Four… AND A HALF!"  The last three words were practically screamed as he looked me right in the eye and dared me to disagree.  I did not.  I could tell he was serious.
When we were kids, a year was a long time to wait for that next incredible number.  Whether it was five, six, or the big double digits, we needed that mid-year marker to tell us we were on our way, headed in the right direction, getting closer to the big day.

So how are we supposed to know we have reached that much-anticipated turning point—the crest of the hill signifying that we are OLDER, that sooner rather than later we will reach that next glorious age—if we don't acknowledge and celebrate the half-birthday?

Half-birthdays were always big in my family.  My dad's is June 6th, my mom's is August 9th, and my brother's is March 17th, St. Patrick's Day.  (Well, isn't HE special?)

I, however, don't have one.

Out of the 366 possible birthdays on the calendar, there are six which do not have half-birthdays (March 31, May 31, August 30, August 31, October 31, and December 31) and one (August 29) which only has a half-birthday once every four years.  We are a small, sad little group. 

Some people just don’t seem to understand our grief.  Plenty before have tried to console me.  

·      "Why don't you just celebrate on April 30th?  Or May 1st?"
o   Because those are someone ESLE's half birthdays.  Not mine.
·      "But April 30th is Willie Nelson's birthday.  Isn't that kind of cool?"           
o   That's really not even relevant, but thanks.  And happy birthday, Willie.
·      "Doesn't having such a cool Halloween birthday make up for not having a half birthday?"
o   It does help, yes. 
·      "How about celebrating your QUARTER birthday instead?"
o   That's just stupid.  And those poor March 31 people don't have one of those either.
·      "Why do you even care?  You're an adult for goodness sake."
o   Shut up.

There is just no substitute for a real half-birthday.

In order to fill this hole in my life and to help others who are afflicted come to terms as well, I have formed a support group.  Today, right now, I am founding the PWAN MYCE.  The PWAN MYCE (People Whining About No Mid-Year Celebratory Event) is an online support system for all those born without half-birthdays, including (because you suffer from a similar pain) people born on February 29.  

Let us all come together to whine collectively about our loss.  When your special day once again fails to arrive, come here.  Air your sorrows.  Share your woes.  Tell us how you cope.  This is a safe space.  The PWAN MYCE are here for you.

And for those of you who DO have a half-birthday, please don’t take it for granted.  Embrace it.  Appreciate it.  And blow out an extra candle for those of us unable to rejoice with you.   

Here are some tips for ways to celebrate your half-birthday:

* Bake half a birthday cake.
* Throw a party, but only invite half of your friends.
* Get spanked on one butt cheek only.
* Ask for gifts that come in pairs (salt & pepper shakers, book ends, earrings) wrapped separately.  Then open only one half of the set.
* Go to a movie and then leave halfway through.
* Put make-up on only half of your face.
* Get just a LITTLE bit drunk.

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