Jewish Journal


Birthday Behavior

by Elliot Steingart

February 1, 2012 | 11:40 am

Birthday Boy

I have no idea how to behave on my birthday. I spend so much time writing jokes, tweeting and blogging about myself, the one day I’m supposed to celebrate my life I’m shy and extra weird.

While I love attention, I’m unsettled by the notion of a premeditated event dedicated to my existence, except for a funeral which I definitely want. Really, my story is no different than yours except I was born into this world tush first.

I think it’s the idea of inviting people to celebrate my birthday that’s weird to me. It seems more like a cry for help. “Eat with me! Drink with me! Buy me gift cards! Love me!”

I’d rather count all the “Happy Bdays” I get on Facebook and internalize why someone wished me a “Happy Bday” and I didn’t return the favor.

Ever since college I’ve been very aware of how many people write happy birthday on my wall. Taylor Skillin, the most popular kid in our freshman class was the benchmark for success.  114 Happy Birthdays to my 22. Since then I’d wish some people a happy birthday just to get one back. It helped inflate my numbers and make me feel better about being born an asshole.

And I know those “friends” who snubbed me or forgot. I’m not that strong, but man can I hold a grudge! Don’t wish me a happy birthday, and I’ll remember not to remember your birthday. Same goes for engagement, marriage or birth of a child. Test me!

I knew going into the day if I didn’t get at least 30 well wishes my life would be for nothing.  The tone was set early when Anthony caught me listening to “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?” on Spotify at 9am.

“Celebrate that birthday by listening to some Rod Stewart! Is this a birthday routine?” He asked.

“It ought to be,” I replied. “Rod is a sex machine and doesn’t have to watch Youtube to tie a tie.”

I was surprised to hear from my office rival, Elliott S, the Steeler fan. “Hey, I saw it’s your birthday today.”

“Yea, what’s it to ya?”

“You’re not going to believe this but it’s mine too.”

“Of course it is!”

Fortunately, everyone wants to make sure you will have a great day. “So, what are you doing for your birthday? Any big plans?”

I spent the weekend in San Diego running around with family, and figured that was good enough. I was fine having a low key birthday, especially on a Monday, but the questions kept pouring in. “What’s in store for the big night??”

On the spot, I scrambled to think of something and somehow blurted out “Karaoke at the Big Foot Lodge.”

Of course, none of my friends knew about this plan. I hadn’t mentioned my birthday to anyone nor did I realize this was my plan. I texted friends and others I might not otherwise have invited. What if none of my friends showed, but the acquaintances did? They would think I have no friends on my birthday, or worse, they’d think they are my only friends.

My parents gave me money to take myself out to a nice dinner.  “Go someplace nice,” they insisted.

I walked to a dimly lit Sushi joint, peered inside, looked at the menu, and man, did I chicken out. I just couldn’t do it. I retreated to the Coffee Bean next door where my head spun, tweets flew and began thinking about the possibility of someone catching me at the Coffee Bean alone on my 27th birthday.

“Hey, isn’t it your birthday?”

“I’m singing Rod Stewart at Karaoke tonight if you’d like to come, or you can just write on my wall, if it’s easier!”

I still hadn’t learned the words to “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy” nor had I rehearsed any of my cool new moves. I didn’t want to go, but I had to because I told my co-workers, friends and family that I was singing karaoke for my birthday. I needed to complete the narrative.

So I went to karaoke by myself on my birthday. The Bigfoot Lodge was pretty empty but I figured I’d sit at the bar and order a drink. It took a few moments for the bartender to notice me and even longer for her to pour me a Murphy’s. I didn’t want to drink alone. Why would I? I wanted to check my Facebook to see the latest string of birthday wishes.  Before she could pour my beer I said, “Sorry, but I’m good, thanks” and left the bar.

I planned on driving home but kept driving, until I parked the car and popped in to Public House on Vermont for comedy night. I even ordered a beer that I drank. I ran into Jason Nash, a comedian friend who performed a solid set that made laugh.

The night ended with 66 “Happy Birthdays” and the belated wishes are still coming in. I’ll be accepting them until tomorrow. Thanks for checking.

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Elliot Steingart is a Los Angeles based comedian and writer who hosts a monthly comedy show, “Melgard Mondays” at Melgard Public House. Steingart has written jokes for...

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