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Jett Superior laid this on you on || March 24, 2011 || 6:51 am

The conversation that predicated my sitting down to type this went like:
“I’m unfamiliar with ugly birthdays. What do they look and sound like?”

“Slouching towards the barcalounger, they stumble with uneven steps.  This one calls itself ‘45′.”

“Forty is ambling toward me. It’s a couple weeks away, and I’m smiling at it.
“I don’t even have to get my birthdays drunk anymore, that’s how terrific they are.”

“Forty was actually rather anti-climatic for me.  It just was.  I don’t feel whatever I think it should feel like. ”

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

When I was six and standing near the merry-go-round

(don’t get me started on merry-go-rounds and the criminal lack of them in the modern child’s world. Holy God, modern children are such pussies, Muffinasses. When you treat your children like intensely breakable things, you will wind up with intensely broken adults….you heard it here first)

a little girl named Perry approached me. She was one of the most beautiful girls I had ever seen; even at six years old I knew that her slightly-vulnerable gorgeousness would beat people senseless before they even realized they’d been struck at all.

“I cain’t come to your party, Jett.”

“How come?”

“Momma says we cain’t buy you a present, so I cain’t come.”

“It’s okay,” the obliviously shitheaded six-year-old me said with an easy shrug, “you don’t have to get me a present. You can just give me money.”

I am quite horrified when I remember that moment. I had no grasp of the notion of poverty, having known only good things and no want in my life at that point. I didn’t know any better, but still: I blame that six-year-old, I judge her harshly.

When I went home and told my mother, she wasn’t angry at or caustic with me. In fact, she was very patient, though matter-of-fact. “You can’t say things like that, Jett. It’s not polite. What Perry meant was that they didn’t have enough money for a gift, and her mother thinks it would be impolite or embarrassing to send her over without one, so she is keeping Perry home.”

I just wanted my beautiful friend there. I had ruined it. I could have just said, “Come be by me on my day; that will make me happy.”

I didn’t know any better, but it doesn’t feel like that excuse fits the hole it is trying to fill.

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

I was the kid with the gigantic parties: My parents buying two fistfuls of wristbands for the amusement park, my parents  building a gigantic bonfire and pulling horses out of the paddock for rides, my parents renting a whole skating rink in Tulsa.

Somehow, it was never obnoxious, though. I think this was because –while I thought they were great and all– I never staked these events for bragging rights. It wasn’t, after all, my money that had made this terrific thing happen, it was my folks’. They weren’t doing it to be ostentatious or showy, either. My parents were doing it because they both loved a good party and were both born with a top-fueled hosting gene and they loved me beyond the scope of anything I could fathom. The parties were fun, but ultimately not what I cared about, I don’t know why. I was grateful to have them, but I don’t remember being garrotted when they wafted away in the mist that was my parents’ marriage.

Imagine my slight shrug as I say this to you: They just weren’t that important to me overall, I don’t know why.

Over the years, I’ve always been happy and delighted to receive birthday calls, cards, thoughts but I have never placed much emphasis on my birthday save for a couple that I viewed as milestones. Twenty-five, thirty: Those were  both important to me somehow. The ones before and after? Not especially so. We all know that guy who heralds his coming birthday for the six weeks leading up to the thing. I am usually the exact inverse of that.

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

I was born, shouting and holding my own head up, on the first of April, nineteen seventy-one. Hospital staff, in keeping with the spirit of the date, told Henry I was a boy. For the first twenty or so minutes of my life, my father had a son. Later that day my extended family gathered around the nursery window, most all of them, clogging up the hallway with their exuberance and their staggering numbers. My first birthday party happened as I stretched and retracted in a hospital bassinet; I was surrounded with unbelievable amounts of love from my first day on the planet.

In truth, I think that’s why I didn’t need a day of acknowledgment or adulation fixed solely on me over the years.  I was told I was special in a myriad of ways every waking day of my life.

Oh my God, what a treasure, you know?

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

This year I am forty and I am doing it differently: I’m throwing myself a party. Forty is a big damn deal, and worthy of celebrating. I’m not having some existential crisis. I’m not wailing at the death rattle of my youth. I am reveling in a life that has been and continues to be a gift. I’ve got it good, I’m excited about that, what’s not to celebrate?

So I’ve asked some friends to surround me and help me do so. Just as if I’d throw a party in facespace and everyone would laugh and enjoy one another and swap stories, so it will be out here in Cyberia. I’ve asked the aforementioned friends to show up to the party. This is how I charged them:  The theme is: write a love letter to me. My definition of ‘love letter’ is pretty broad and kinda loosey-goosey. It goes something like this: When I hear Emmylou Harris sing ‘Red Dirt Girl’ I think she’s written a love letter to me. When I get mail in the mailbox –even junky, tree-killing shit– I think the postal service has written a love letter to me. When I can sleep through a night, my body has written me a love letter. When a picture, a word, a song, a gesture dings a nerve or delights me, it’s a love letter.

I am blessed to have a host of people in my life that will say ‘yes’ when I ask something like this of them, so starting tomorrow, wander over here for a few minutes of every day over the course of the next two weeks. There’ll  be something new in this space each day from stellar people I love. I am very(!) excited(!) at this prospect. “We’ll live like KINGS! Damn hell ass KINGS!”

It takes a fortnight to celebrate good and proper, after all.

5 worked it out »

  1. Jett Superior 3.24.2011

    I AM LEAVING A COMMENT RE-ITERATING HOW STOKED I AM.

     
  2. Whit 3.24.2011

    Call me at 45, we’ll turn this internet inside out.

    Happy birthday!

     
  3. Holmes 3.24.2011

    Happiest of birthdays to you, dear Jett. Glad to have met you through this tangle of wires, tubes, and clouds.

     
  4. Jett Superior 3.24.2011

    Thank you, fellas! I’ve never thrown a party for m’self, so this is going to be great stuff.

     
  5. Cheryl 3.24.2011

    This is going to be beyond awesome. Sheer genius to invite the creme de la creme.

    I’ll be watching. 40 is a big damn deal. Fly high, woman. Reach for the sky.

     

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