What do they have in common? People treat them like they are sacred. Like everything needs to be just right and just perfect that very first time or it’s just going to be horrible and you’ll regret it forever and ever and you may as well just die. Like if something is just slightly out of place, if you aren’t madly in love with the other person or the design you’re choosing, it’s going to completely ruin your life. It’s like the way that so many people treat their prom or how the horrible beast that is a “bridezilla” comes to be – everything has to be the absolute best with no missteps and if anyone even thinks the wrong thing, the whole souffle will flattened, thereby magically transforming the dish into a poison that will make everyone in attendance, even those whom haven’t sampled the dish, shit and vomit for days. It’s a souffle, not a Fugu. If there’s a little screw up, it will probably still be fine. If there’s a big screw-up, you can still start over. Nobody has died. Stop acting like the world ended.
I’ll get off my high horse for a second and explain. Over the past few months, I have heard the same basic phrase repeated by countless people. Well… not countless, just… fuck, dude, I didn’t count. I don’t know how to count. I don’t know, it’s probably more like a few dozen? “I don’t want my first one to be bad”. Or some variation of that. Given my current age demographic, it’s mostly about tattoos. I have heard one or two “I just want my first time to be with the right person” phrases in regards to sex and something along the lines of “I want this day to be very special” about a marriage or some other life milestone. I’m just gunna put this out there – it’s gunna be. Even if everything does go all wrong, it’s still gunna be a pretty special day. Plan well but don’t go cray over it. Shit’ll fall into place in ways you never imagined, and that’s okay.
I understand that some people think that I take a few too many of life’s experiences for granted. Maybe I do. I don’t think so, but maybe I do. But if I do, it’s because life has taught me to stop taking shit so very seriously. I lost my virginity at an age that would be considered pretty young in modern America. I earned my driver’s license with no fanfare. I crossed into adulthood in the summer, and only my family made mention of the change. I spent my 21st in the desert. I won’t say it was uneventful, but I will say that the events were less than pleasant. Since then, I’ve found my birthdays less than enjoyable. To be completely honest, I fucking hate my birthday. I have no concerns or regrets about aging. Actually, I rather enjoy getting older. I can look back on my life and reflect. I can see how foolish and silly I have been and realize that my life is so much more serious now, and I care so much less than ever before about it. It’s kind of nice. It’s the experiences that I have had on my birthday that I can never talk about juxtaposed with the simple fact that most of my friends and family find it incredibly important to highlight the day as if it is the highlight of my life. It is not. It actually hurts me a bit. But as I age, I have started to realize that this day isn’t actually for me. It’s for you. Well… pro’lly not “you” you, but the universal “you” in respect to the universal “me”. My family needs to celebrate my birthday. I do not. I would rather not. But they do, so I’ll go along with it. Here are the things I can share about my previous birthdays that are most likely contributing to the sour taste in my mouth every 16th of June:
- Age 15: June 16th, 1997 – Girlfriend dumped me for no apparent reason.
- Age 16: June 16th, 1998 – Can’t remember.
- Age 17: June 16th, 1999 – Celebrated with a cheap cake and family because I was too introverted to asked anyone over.
- Age 18: June 16th, 2000 – Bought the worst porn mags ever and a pack of cigarettes that were so gross I had to pull over and vomit for a while.
- Age 19: June 16th, 2001 – Girlfriend ignored me.
- Age 20: June 16th, 2002 – Training; birthday never mentioned.
- Age 21: June 16th, 2003 – Iraq; things went very badly.
- Age 22: June 16th, 2004 – Iraq; an engineering crew thought we were the enemy so we had to snake around them while under friendly fire.
- Age 23: June 16th, 2005 – The “girl that got away” broke up with me. Yeah. On my birthday. Nice of her.
- Age 24: June 16th, 2006 – Drunk off my ass
- Age 25: June 16th, 2007 – Can’t remember
- Age 26: June 16th, 2008 – Can’t remember
- Age 27: June 16th, 2009 – Can’t remember
- Age 28: June 16th, 2010 – Can’t remember
- Age 29: June 16th, 2011 – Bethany Beach – starting to see that the special days of women are pampered and the special days of men are spent helping others. Odd.
- Age 30: June 16th, 2012 – Lake Gaston, NC – pretty awesome day, though I tried to start it early and got stuck with family because I didn’t start it early enough. And I wish my Dad was there. We could have fished.
My birthday has been less than wonderful, so I’m sure you can understand how I do not hold it in such reverence. What I can’t understand is why you hold yours with such esteem. It’s just a day. It’s a fucking day that really doesn’t matter much past the point when you start to reap monetary values from insurance. Why does it matter so much to you? Did you never leave that aspect of your childhood, or is there something that I am missing?
Back to your virginity… I mean… yeah, I think it was a bit young when I lost my V-card, too. It was right around 13. But whatever, and I feel confident in saying “whatever” about it because it wasn’t the most amazing thing ever. I don’t mean to trivialize the experience but I do mean to question why so many people treat the experience as life defining. It happened, it was a thing. It was many things – fun, pleasurable, awkward – but it was not life defining. It does count as a milestone, but as one of many. The day my current employer hired me has probably, in the long run, had a larger impact on my life. That may seem trivial to you, but not to me, and that’s kind of my point. What matters to you might not matter to me or to others and I want to understand why.
When I bought the condo I now live in and the car I now drive, I dwelled on the prospect of each purchase for a very long time. I learned a very good lesson from each purchase, but it took a while to really understand what I have learned. Hell, I’m still kind of sorting it out because each was, ultimately, a good purchase. However, each purchase could have been better. Both for the same reason but each from a different perspective. I pined over the purchase of the car for years, constantly delaying the task for a bevvy of reasons that I can now look back on and distill into one, real, honest reason – I held the purchase in too much reverence. It may seem odd to compare buying a car to losing your V card, but stay with me. The first car I drove around like it was my own was an old Chevy S-10 that my dad bought to aid in house and yard work. While it was pretty cool at the time, it was never really my style and it lacked the kinds of amenities that I would later find out I required. The first car I bought was an old BMW that was actually about a year older than I was at the time. Don’t think too hard about the brand in this case. I believe I picked it up for $700. It sucked. A $700 setback is still a bit much for me these days, but back then (probably around 20), it was far too much. I truly couldn’t afford the loss, nor could I afford the frequent, $200+ visits to repair shops. It was a bad buy, and it wasn’t the fault of the sellers, it was mine. I was determined that my next car would be a good buy, so I made a list of requirements. Then I ranked my list and made a top 10. I wish I had retained the list to review what 20-year-old-me would have valued in a car, but I didn’t. I do remember that the list ran a pretty wide range between engine reliability (which I believe was ranked number 1) and built in cup holders (which I believe was in the top 5). It ended up being a very good purchase. The car actually lasted me for over a decade, the last few years of which spent in near total neglect. I am convinced that if I would have put a tiny bit more care into the last year that I owned it, it would have lasted me another decade. It was a ’99 Jeep Cherokee Sport and it was phenomenal. The only real knock I could possibly have against it was gas mileage. That made my most recent list when I bought my ’11 Hyundai Sonata. The car has so far proven to be another good buy, but it’s been a little bitter-sweet. Why? Because I waited too long. Had I bought a little earlier, I would have spent less for a better car. I bought the ’11 Sonata in the summer of 2011. Had I car shopped in the spring of the same year, I might have save $1000 less on the same car, or put that money towards a much better, possibly even America car.
I also spent too much on my current home. This was also a pretty good buy, but I didn’t wait long enough. Instead of the car, which I should have opted in for during an earlier season, I should have had more patients and watched the market wain a bit more. I could have saved at least $10,000 on a 30 year loan had I waited just one more year. I’m not upset about my buy – things have so far worked out. But if I could have been a bit more cool headed and waited a while longer, I would be living in a town house right now instead of my stuffy two-bedroom condo. But I guess that’s just how life is, right?
I understand that I’m all over the place right now and have barely even mentioned tattoos, but deal with it. I haven’t mentioned them because they matter so much less than your virginity, birthday, or any other of life’s milestones, and yet so many of us treat them as if they are the most important things ever or as if they haven’t absolutely no-takesies-backseis. They don’t. That’s not how they work. We have lasers, dude. We also have ink to cover up shitty jobs. Or fuck it- keep the bad tattoo and let it launch some conversations. It’s just skin. Chill the fuck out. Life is. Same with my less-than-perfect-purchases. Life is. I screwed up a little. I learned. I’ll do better next time.
tl;dr – To everything there is a season…
I hate my birthday, but realize that it isn’t actually for me. I didn’t make the best buys ever, but they were pretty good, and I’m alright with them eve if they weren’t. Stop acting like you’re going to get a tattoo unless you really are. You’re pussy/dick isn’t magic, so stop being so afraid of fucking. Some other things. Fuckificare.