Here comes November! November is my birthday month. All great people are born in November. It’s a fact. So, this year I will be 54 years old. My how times flies! It always makes me think of when I was young and the small parties I would have with friends and family at my house. And it always made me think of my mom and how she could not sing worth a dime. And, on top of that, I always wondered why she always semi-ruined my birthday by singing this birthday song:
Happy Birthday to you, You live in a zoo, You look like a monkey…and you smell like one too.
Sometimes she would change the ending to “and you act like one too.” Quite frankly, it pissed me off. Was this supposed to be funny? I mean, it was bad enough that she forgot candles at times, and at the last minute stuck playing card numbers in the cake. No lie. For my 14th birthday, I had a 10 and a 4 in my cake. It was always a homemade cake. She went that far. But she stopped short of really making it special by singing a stupid song and lighting the cards on fire. Ok, she didn’t light them on fire. I should have pretended to blow out the cards after they sang that stupid song. But, she rarely had candles in stock for my birthday. Was probably saving them for my sister’s birthday, which was one week later.
That wasn’t the only variation she would sing. On the years she did sing the song correctly, she would add shit:
“Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday, dear Vickie, Happy Birthday to you…and many more…..on channel four…..and out the door…..like Zsa Zsa Gabor…….” Seriously?
And then there were the birthday whippings? What the hell was that all about? We got spanked for each year and then got pinched for “and one to grow on.” One to grow on what? Made no sense to my sore butt. If we had a foreign exchange student living in our home, they would have run away.
And then there was Grandma. I knew when Grandma was starting to go to the land of senility when she handed me a birthday card one year. I tore open the envelope, and opened the card. She and Grandpa always gave me a lot of money for my birthday, so I always hurried to get to theirs. She wrote:
” Vickie, Happy Pearl Harbor Day! Love, Grandma and Grandpa”
I just stared at the card. I wanted to laugh, because we knew Grandma was demented even before senility hit. Now she won’t remember all the crazy shit she did. And now, here we were, celebrating Pearl Harbor Day…..on November 9th.
“Grandma, thank you. Isn’t Pearl Harbor Day December 7?”
“Yes, it is. Such a sad day to have your birthday on.” She replied, oh so sadly. I just looked at her, and then looked over at my dad, her son. He smiled, and gave me one of those hand movements around the temple, meaning that she was a loon.
One sad note about my birthday is that was also the day we buried my dad, in 1989. I was 33 and it was one of the saddest days of my life. I was so lucky to have them that long. He had a bad heart. I’m truly surprised he didn’t die earlier. Living with my mom was disheartening……get it? Well, he was a funny guy. He would not want me to be sad.
Now, the one thing I did like about birthdays in our household was the fact that we also celebrated half birthdays with cupcakes instead of a cake. That was pretty cool. So, on May 9, when I turned 6 1/2, I got cupcakes. I loved that. I still note when my half birthday is each year, and buy myself some Hostess cupcakes as my little treat.
I tweaked it a bit for my kids. I baked cupcakes and bought them a card, which I cut down the middle, envelope and all, and we sang half of the birthday song: “Hap birth da t yo” or “Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you” and then we would stop singing.
Oh Dear God, I’ve become my mother….