Tuesday, February 4, 2014

"Random Birthday Memories"

Today is my birthday.

Like many people, I imagine, I look forward with little enthusiasm to my birthday’s impending arrival – I see my accumulating years as one block being stacked on top of the preceding others, such that, at some point, there will be an inevitable Toppling of the Tower.  But when the day actually arrives, I, personally, feel blissfully exhilarated.

I have always experienced my birthday as an exhilarating holiday – Thanksgiving, Christmas and the First of July (when Canada received its independence from England through the “British North American Act”) all rolled into one. 

I envision my birthday as a “Bank Holiday” during which the banks remain open because nobody observes it as a holiday, except me.  Which is fine.  There are fireworks in my head.  And that is all I require.   

As I prepare this cyberspacical epistle, memories fly up from my unconsciousness concerning random birthdays from my past.  Here are a few recollections that have floated into my awareness today:

When I was six, I had a party in my basement, during which a commemorative photograph (which I still have) was taken, a dozen or so birthday guests and myself, posed atop the counter of our basement bar, our short-panted six year-old legs dangling loosely in front of us.  One of the invitees was my friend, Shelly G., who now lives in Phoenix.  We have remained in touch for the past sixty-three years.

During my Elementary School years, I recall arranged February 4th (or thereabouts) “skating parties” at the natural rink in the “Glen Rush” schoolyard, two doors from my house.  (Yes, there was an Elementary School an infuriating two houses away; I, however – and the reason why it was infuriating – was required to commute a considerable distance to the Toronto Hebrew Day School.)  Since I did not at all care for ice skating, I would remain comfortably at home, watching television until my party guests returned, after which we enjoyed hamburgers, hot dogs and birthday cake, and I opened my presents.

Once, receiving Maple Leafs hockey tickets for my birthday, I became so bursting with the excitement of being there that, when we went out after the game was over, I raced into the alley next to the Gardens and unceremoniously threw up.

On the night of my twenty-second birthday when I was living in London, on the way to a party after the pubs had closed, the inebriated driver of the car I was in lost control of the vehicle, and it careened abruptly into a lighting stanchion.  Though mercifully unhurt, I could not shake “Died On His Birthday” headlines flashing through my consciousness, along with the realization of how utterly stupid I had been, getting into that car in the first place.  (You kids out there, “Do not do that!”)

When I was thirty-two, I spent my birthday night dancing uninhibitedly (to the extent that my personality and talent for dancing will allow me to) on the star-lit beaches of Bora Bora.

My fiftieth birthday was spent weekending with my wife at an exclusive Beverly Hills hotel, catering primarily to high-rolling Eurotrash.  (We didn’t bother them; they didn’t both us.  Though I admit I did gawk a little.) 

When I turned sixty, we overnighted at a Santa Monica hotel, where, while I waited for Dr. M to return from work, I treated myself to a gala “Earl-A-Bration”, during which I “binge-watched” tapes of the “Written By Earl Pomerantz” sitcom episodes of which I was selectively the proudest.

One year, I spent my birthday watching the Super Bowl in the company of a handpicked handful of longtime friends.  Another year, I eschewed the Super Bowl (invariably played around my birthday), accompanying my family to the Planetarium, which was extra fun that day because it was empty, everyone else being at home watching the Super Bowl.

A couple of years ago, my daughter Anna hosted me to a day at Disneyland, at which time there was a promotion, allowing anyone celebrating their birthday to be admitted to the “Happiest Place On Earth” free of charge.  The celebrants were also provided large “campaign-style” metal buttons with our names printed on them, whose appearance required every Disneyland employee to say, “Happy Birthday, Earl!”, or whatever your name happened to be.  (This special promotion was subsequently suspended, and I have not returned to Disneyland since.)

Last year, per my solicited request, my daughters Rachel and Anna and I decamped to a major Cineplex with really good sound at ten-thirty in the morning, where we sat in a virtually empty theater, and very memorably watched Les Miserables together.

And this year, it’s this – a week of seclusion and pampering, in what is basically a year-round summer camp for grownups.  I know I am truly blessed to have the health and the resources to imagine what I would like for my birthday, and then make those sometimes extravagant wishes come true.  I am, without question, a fortunate Jewish man.

Next year, I turn seventy. 

I am going to try not to think about that today.

I would, on this birthday, like to thank anyone who has ever had a kind thought about me.  I would also like…to at least make a start at…forgiving anyone who has not.  That one’s a work in progress.  But, apparently, I have time.

And with that, it’s…

Happy Birthday to me
It’s a gift to still be
I am substantially the same guy
But I wake up to pee.

And now – “Watsu” – where you relax in human body-temperature water, and a stranger makes you feel sixty-seven again.  


Wendy M. Grossman said...

Happy birthday, Earl.


Ed said...

Feliz cumpleanos, Earl!

Jim Russell said...

Happy birthday, Earl!

john brown said...

Happy Birthday!

badger said...

Earl! Happy Birthday and thanks for sharing your cake (and lots of laughs) with us tonight!
Sue & Andy

Rebecca said...

Happy Birthday, Earl! Hope you are having a fabulous birthday vacation and I wish you a great many more that are every bit as enjoyable.

Sérgio do Carmo said...

I hope you had a wonderful birthday!