Ericson Just

Comedian, Podcaster, Etc...

A Rough Draft: The Unaccountable Amount Of Birthdays

    I’ll tell you what’s weird about Birthdays… Even though mine isn’t even here nor were we even on the subject…

    It’s weird how few you actually have and yet still how few you actually remember.

    Maybe I’m being hard on myself. Maybe I’m not giving myself enough time to think about it. Maybe I just live a very boring existence. But I can only recall a small handful of birthdays. Almost all of them with a varying degree of disappointment.

    All my childhood birthdays have coalesced into a single moment. My mom and dad, brothers and sister, all circled around me in our kitchen on Meadows lane as I am presented with a chocolate on chocolate cake with those supermarket bought birthday candles plugged in around my name. There would be as many candles as years I had lived, plus one more for good luck. There was always three roses on the cake, made complete of icing, and while my siblings would always choose to have the slice with the roses on it for their own birthdays, I never even wanted to try it. I just wanted a pure, unadulterated slice (I was the kind of kid that liked plain pizza over pepperoni). We’d sing, we’d eat, we’d go to bed.

    I’d had birthday parties around that time too, but never on the day. Parties were always scheduled to benefit parents and kids school schedules. They started big, at first so big that I had to share them with my siblings (which I secretly — but probably not as secretly as I thought — hated). By the time I reached fifth grade I would go to the movies with a small group of what I considered to be my closest friends and looking back I only still talk to one of those people.

    The last birthday I remember having in the suburbs of Philadelphia left me rather traumatized. My mother had decided to take me to the orthodontist of all places that afternoon and had supported him in the decision to install metal bands on my back molars for future braces. I fought tooth and nail against this decision. This is not how I wanted to celebrate my birthday. But with the compounded pressure of my mother and the callous Orthodontist (my father was still a dentist, and I believe this is after we had moved to Gainesville — it’s all very hazy how we ended up here) alongside the empty promise that I wouldn’t even notice they were there: I allowed them to be put into my mouth. Tearing up my inner cheeks and making my birthday dinner of cucumber sushi rolls and iced tea an absolute nightmare… I think I cried a lot that day.

    That’s the only birthday I really remember of my early teens. I didn’t have friends anymore and I didn’t enjoy celebrating with my family. Sometimes we’d go see a movie but even then we’d split up as my brothers and sister would go with my father to see something more mainstream like “Gladiator” as I went with my mom to see “Screwed” (I was a big fan of Norm MacDonald) a movie we ended up leaving half-way through due to a morgue scene with Danny DeVito that his too close to home after having lost my mother’s father and my first best-friend earlier that year. At this point there were no parties and I didn’t want them.

    When I turned sixteen is when I believe my father took me to my drivers license test and I failed — I also cried that day too. The worst part of it was that I had cut my hair that day in agreement with my father that my long hair, going all the way past my shoulders, was obscene and should be cut in exchange for me getting my license.

    I have no idea what happened when I was seventeen.

    Things perked up at eighteen. Legally able to drive, dressing better, and finally reconnected with my high-school secret crush / best-friend we spent the day together getting sushi on my mothers credit card and going to the Philadelphia Art Museum to look that the view of the Schuylkill River. I remember feeling the urge to kiss her in that moment but knew better to wait, patience was becoming a virtue for me.

    We ended up together by the next birthday and spent quite a few together that my mind seems to throw in the farther recesses of my memory. Twenty-one I remember was spent waiting till midnight to finally gamble legally at a casino in Atlantic-City. A foolish decision that ended with us driving all the way back to Philly at 3AM in a haze of exhaustion. 

    Twenty-two, twenty-three, twenty-four… I’m sure I must have eaten sushi those days, but I can’t remember them for the life of me. I suppose I could go back to my journal archive and find out. I use to write wrap ups of my day the following day, but right now it’s the fact I can’t remember them at all that is so daunting to me.

    Some people attempt to party, some attempt to just find something new to make it memorable, some people work on their birthdays and I think those people are the worst (to themselves). I stopped celebrating the day with so many people because it gives me anxiety over wether they’re enjoying themselves which ends up draining me and leaving me feeling depleted. I much rather just spend it with someone special and do whatever I feel like that day — or whatever they have planned.

    The most memorable birthday I’ve had happened two years ago, when my girlfriend at the time took me out for a day of pampering, getting a mani-pedi and a massage followed by Wendy’s and Iron Man 3 and, of course, sushi. It was a great day: from start to finish. Never had anything like it, but that was when the realization hit me. We only get so many of these days and rarely know what to do with them.