Hippo Birdies Triple-Hexadecimal

April 17, 2009 | By | 11 Replies More
birthday cake

by J. N. Diamond via Flickr Creative Commons

Today marks 3 x 2^4 years since I made an illegal uterine U-turn and backed into this life. That’s 17,532 days of cardiovascular goodness; circa 2 Billion heartbeats. I’m three times the age I was when I got my first kiss. Presbyopia is now nagging me, and my temples are graying.

TMI, you say? Be that as it may, I have an existential dilemma. This birthday is a round number, arguably rounder than 50 (2 x 5^2). I should celebrate. But how?

“Take the day off!” cry the masses. But I haven’t had a regular job since the late 1980’s. I don’t usually give any of my clients notice for taking a day off, and they rarely notice.

“Buy yourself something nice.” But I have a bad habit of buying what catches my fancy, plus an instinct not to fancy expensive or frivolous things. Ignore my slide rule, camera, and typewriter collections. Also, I recently ordered 10 lbs of aluminum dust, a controlled substance that will be brightly expended. You’ll hear more about that in July. (hint)

“Do something fun,” is good advice. But I don’t have a routine of drudgery to escape from. My aching, aging shoulder is too sore to properly “do” the City Museum, but I may go dancing in the evening.


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Category: American Culture, Consumerism, Whimsy

About the Author ()

A convoluted mind behind a curly face. A regular traveler, a science buff, and first generation American. Graying of hair, yet still verdant of mind. Lives in South St. Louis City. See his personal website for (too much) more.

Comments (11)

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  1. Tony Coyle says:


    And in a weird synchrony with your post, the captcha is 'number'!

    I've never really felt very much affinity with birthdays.

    I don't like cake (and no-one will buy me apple pie).

    I could care less about a 'forced' get together at work – luckily my life as a traveling consultant helps there, since clients rarely know or care, and team members change frequently!

    I think store-bought cards are trite and expensive (I'm happy to receive a personal card, though. I'm not a total grinch!)

    I truly hate the song (probably one of the worst, most grating, melodies to have been foisted upon the human race. Most similar tunes are thankfully relegated to children's songs – where we can at least enjoy them in the correct context, and not in adult settings!)

    I do enjoy spending time with friends and family – but spontaneously, not according to an accident of orbital mechanics! And as I said in another thread – I'd rather buy my own gifts, thank you very much!

  2. Mindy Carney says:

    Happy Birthday, Dan! Whatever you do, enjoy it exponentially. Make a memory that will cause a grin, or a least a smirk, when you look back upon it.

  3. Dan Klarmann says:

    Gift from a neighbor who knows me well: A sticky note pad printed with <blockquote style="background-color:#80c080;color:#6040a0"><div style="font-weight:bold;font-family:serif; font-size:16pt; text-align:center;"> If Ignorance is Bliss you'd thinkmore people would be happy.   </div>

  4. Erich Vieth says:


    A few quotes for you on your number-laden special day:

    Old age is the most unexpected of things that can happen to a man.

    Leon Trotsky (1879 – 1940), Diary in Exile (1959)

    Do not go gentle into that good night,

    Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    Dylan Thomas (1914 – 1953), Collected poems (1952)

    When I was young I was amazed at Plutarch's statement that the elder Cato began at the age of eighty to learn Greek. I am amazed no longer. Old age is ready to undertake tasks that youth shirked because they would take too long.

    W. Somerset Maugham (1874 – 1965)

    We turn not older with years, but newer every day.

    Emily Dickinson (1830 – 1886)

    It is a mistake to regard age as a downhill grade toward dissolution. The reverse is true. As one grows older, one climbs with surprising strides.

    George Sand (1804 – 1876)

    We did not change as we grew older; we just became more clearly ourselves.

    Lynn Hall, Where Have All the Tigers Gone?, 1989

  5. Erika Price says:

    Birthday traditions are silly. I can think of one especially silly one: the expectation that a newly-minted 21-year-old must get absolutely, dangerously knackered on their birthday.

    I had a birthday this week too, Dan, but mine was not numerically signifigant. The day was "special" in that I am no longer a second-class-citizen (which I believe 18-20 year olds are). I eschewed most of the birthday obligatories, too, including the requirement that I down 21 shots and end up passed out in a stranger's yard. No thank you!

    It sounds like you don't need the "excuse" of a birthday to do some of the things that other people long all year for- taking the day off, having fun, enjoying and musing on their lives. The fact that a birthday doesn't need to be made special greatly signifies that the day-to-day life is lived well enough, thank you very much. That alone may deserve a hearty congrats.

    • Tony Coyle says:

      In Scotland, that age is 18 – but you can get married – on your own recognizance – at 16!

      Although I think I had already had my share of 'binge' drinking by the time I was 16.

    • Dan Klarmann says:

      I didn't drink in college; not one beer. I rarely drink now. I ordered my first drink when I was 23, at a friend's 21st birthday dinner because she forgot her ID!

  6. Mindy Carney says:

    Apparently I was the one drinking Dan's drinks in college. Having done so, I can say "Kudos to you, Erika, for not being sucked into that particular cultural morass!" Happy belated birthday – hope you enjoyed yourself –

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