Tuesday, January 11, 2005

A Birthday Story

“I was born.” Yes, that’s right. My life story began exactly the same way as Dickens’s David Copperfield. They say that it was blizzarding hard on January 12, 1977, and that in Buffalo, NY someone killed someone else for a parking space. But I spent the day in North York General Hospital and didn’t hear about all that until much, much later.

Exactly one year later I received my first birthday cake. I’m not sure what affect all that pink had on my psychological development, but whatever it was, I would hope I’m over it by now.

In spite of my excellent long term memory, the rest of my birthdays are a bit of a blur. I know that my sixteenth birthday was my first day of boarding school in the Philippines. I think I got a surprise cake and a kiss from my dorm mother. The entire twenty-four hours of my twenty-third birthday were spent on the Alaska Highway in a Greyhound bus. I bought myself a birthday doughnut somewhere around Fort Nelson, and a nice nursing student bought me a birthday coffee. My very worst birthday ever was my twenty-sixth birthday. It was the last day of a winter army exercise weekend and as a new second lieutenant I was being given a very bad time by pompous NCOs. I had absolutely no idea it was my birthday until I got home in the late afternoon and discovered a birthday message from my family in my voicemail. “Oh yeaaaaaaaah. . . .”

My next birthday also fell on an army day, but this time I had friends who waited up to celebrate when I got home. Bless their hearts.

Which brings me to my current birthday . . . . Thanks to Yuko and my sister Mary I was able to celebrate a pre-emptive birthday party in Hakodate over the long weekend. Thank you Yuko and Mary!

My sister Mary, also known as Sister #3, is currently a student at The Far Eastern National University’s (FENU’s) “famous branch at Hakodate, Japan.” Having just returned from a semester abroad at the main campus in Vladivostok, it was very kind of her to host my birthday party on her very first night back in her house. The house Mary rents (for peanuts) is very old and so tilted that her bedroom door slides shut of its own accord.

What fascinated me the most, though, was her telephone. When I was a kid these black rotary phones were the ONLY model to be found in private residences. Now, Mary is the only person I know who is still using one.