One of my favorite books, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Deep Thought, the second greatest computer of all of history, is asked for “the answer to the ultimate question of life universe and everything”. His answer, after 10 million years of calculating, is:
The punchline was, he just gave the answer, without giving the question (which in the most underrated joke of the whole book was later to be revealed as: ‘What’s six times nine?’ proving that the universe was fundamentally flawed).
Today is my birthday, and if anyone asks – I am going to say I am “The Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything!” (because I turned 42 today).
So, what am I going to do today? Great question! I am going to do what I always do on my birthday — “Whatever I Want!”
November 5th is a surprisingly awkward time of year for a birthday. Thankfully, it’s not right on top of a major gift giving holiday so I avoid the old “This is your birthday & Christmas gifts all in one GI Joe Action Figure” parent trap; though I did get the “your birthday is right around the corner” for six months and got “Christmas is right around the corner” when my birthday came. It’s at a transitional period of the year, though. Fall activities are just about finished, winter activities just started, and an awkward balance exists between the two. More directly, those fall activities are reaching their peak, where the fun is at it’s top, but the finish is so close it gets depressing. If they finished early, you are stuck in the stupidity of the start of winter and not where you want to be yet. It’s also that pre-holiday time when you should be getting into shape so you don’t put so much weight on before you can eat like a pig for a month. In all honesty, there are things to feel depressed about, to feel guilty about, and to feel apprehensive about having a birthday on the 5th of November.
Something I fell into a long time time ago was a great way to overcome it. When I was in high school, I was the symbol of being an inbetweener, doing both nerdy things (quiz bowl, forensics, and yes, even being in the band made me a nerd) while still being in three sports. The day I turned 17, we played a football game that got us into the State Championships. The day I turned 18, I was featured in a School Musical, Oliver. In it’s own conflicting, awkwardness, those two birthdays I spent doing what … at the time … I wanted to do. Sure, those days weren’t about me, but if you know me you know that doing things I want means doing things with others around me, not others doing things for me.
Since then, the most memorable birthdays I had were days when I did things because I wanted to do them. I remember turning 29 in Milwaukee, buying my first keg of beer, and putting it up at The Lower Box – just so I could rely on all my friends showing up and having a laugh. I remember turning 37, doing an audit with Jeremy Phillips, and enjoying a few back at a hotel in Cleveland. I remember turning over the clock to my 21st sitting at the Library in Houghton, MI and doing my first legal shot of Tequila, more interested in the music playing than fact I wasn’t going to get arrested.
Probably the last couple years stand out moreso (maybe because I am losing my memory with age).
When I turned 40, I spent a very long, full, enjoyable day judging marching bands in Kings Mills, OH. I remember the excitement of each show, I remember hoping around & nearly dancing to the music, and I remember hanging out with other judges that night to go over what we saw and what we liked. Barely anyone knew it was my birthday, but I didn’t care – all I wanted to do was judge, and I loved it.
Last year my birthday was way more subdued, yet still incredibly memorable. My birthday gift to myself pooped on my couch, puked in my car, and cried non-stop all night. But that day one year ago was the day I became a dog owner.
So, what do I have planned for tonight? Whatever I want!!
And I want to go curling.