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Happy Birthday To Ya

birthday cake.png

Maybe age is a clock to wake us from dreaming…Or maybe it is the dream…Like counting the number of pages in a book…when we should be reading the story...

I like to paint my toenails on my birthday. It’s usually just the right time to start wearing sandals, to put up the window screens and set out the ant traps. I mark my birthday by what flowers are blooming on May 17th. Lilacs in Massachusetts. In Virginia it’s Irises.

I lie about my age, usually by only a year, because I need a little leeway to get used to the number attached to my persona that my culture won’t let me forget.

We’re all hung up on age, like we’re hung up on time. We count things down to the nano second. I suspect that our ancestors weren’t so obsessive. They looked at the sky, and they knew the difference between morning, noon, afternoon, and night. Traditionally, Native Americans didn’t count their age. Neither did the Irish. And when they came to this country and it was socially accepted to count “birthdays” many of them lied, as my beloved and now deceased Irish aunt’s death certificates attest to.

Most of my friends don’t know exactly how old I am. So when I came out of the closet and read the following poem at the Pine Tavern Open Mic a few of years ago, some mouths dropped open.

After my on-stage confession about my age, I went back to lying. I like to keep my friends slightly confused.


A poem I wrote in my early 20’s goes like this:
I was born in Quincy in 1950
My father was in the Navy
and my mother was pretty

Are you doing the math in your head yet?
Here, want a pencil?

I lie about my age
like I save chocolate to eat later
like I don’t get a tattoo
don’t fill in “caucasian”
on a job application
or even want a job

Have you seen the new Saturday Night Live skit
with Molly Shannon in red polyester pants
pulled up around her breasts?
Big purse, Big hair (probably a wig)
She proudly announces, “I’M FIFTY!”
Then she kicks and does a split
(continue on next page)

How come older woman aren’t considered debonair?
And can you think of a male term for “old hag”?
How come men in their 60’s in Hollywood movies
are usually paired up with young chicks?

I’m writing this poem while I’m still 49
It’s called a loophole, a safety net
But it’s almost my birthday so I’ll make a wish
that we all stop keeping score
in a game where old people lose

How come age isn’t like art or poetry?
How come it’s hard cold facts?
A labeled box that never fits
A branded number that follows your name
And just when you get use to it - it changes!

The first time I heard about “The Change of Life”
was when Mrs. Coveny wandered in our yard
and splashed in our wading pool fully clothed
“What does it mean?” I asked my mother
Something that happens when your 50

In high school the year 2000
sounded like science fiction
But I did the math and then announced
“Yeah, I’ll probably still be around
but I’ll be so old!”

Age is a strange orbit spinning on its axis
We know it’s moving but we can’t feel it
Then we arrive and ask “How did we get here?”
Do I have to be 50? Am I really?

I remember the invention of panty hose
more than the moon walk
and electric curlers more than computers
Before that it was garter belts
and sleeping on coke cans

I always thought 50 was my Aunt Gertie
bobby pins and elastic waist pants
But what do I know?
I was raised on sitcoms and the generation gap
What do I know?
I haven’t even had my first hot flash or mid-life crisis

My father used to say
that my mother was like wine
better with age
We laughed and said
“Don’t trust anyone over 30”
What did we know?!

“50 years old” sounds so final
So let’s just say “I’m 50 rotations around the sun”

I’m not cured of lying
or secretly counting
I need glasses to read
but not to see the girl within
myself and other women

I have to write lists
of “things not to forget”
but those are just details not meanings

Turning 50 feels like second puberty
only this time I’m aware of it
and taking good notes

A poem I wrote when I turned 50’s goes like this:
I was born in Quincy in 1950
Daughter of Bebe and Babsy
Child of the 60’s
Niece of Gertie

I’m the mother of young men
in the year 2000!
Loving partner to my true husband
and true to myself
What more could I ask for?

Maybe age is a clock to wake us from dreaming
Or maybe it is the dream
Like counting the number of pages in a book
when we should be reading the story

Comments

Happy Birthday!!!

I have looked into the Ennegrams a little bit, but I guess I just didn't latch on to it like I did with the Myers-Briggs. For one thing, I couldn't figure out what my number was. So if you're a 5 my guess is that your wing is 4?

Pretty cake.

an age is just a number....like your weight!! I wish I believed this too. I try anyway! Happy Birthday!!

Have a great birthday. I've got 10 years on ya'. Today I went into a fast-food restaurant, ordered and didn't ask for the senior discount (as I usually do). When the clerk told me the amount, I said "Did you give me the senior discount?" She replied no, and looked at me somewhat disgusted, as though she didn't believe I was old enough for it. An older man in line ahead of me turned around and said "I'd never figure you for a senior", and I said "Thanks, I'll be 65 in 5 months". He said "I still don't believe it!". Sure made my day - and I'm certain you don't look your age either - unless that photo was taken 20 years ago!!

Hope you have a very Happy Birthday!

You are only as old as you feel you are. :-)

Happy birthday, and many many returns of the day!

Glad I came by today. Have a fabulous BD and supercalifragiliciousispiallasocious every day.

Happy happy birthday! Long ago my daughter (as a young child) jumped up in her seat and said loudly, "holy cow mommy, you're going to be 38 soon... then 39... then 30-10!" We all laughed, but now I've taken to stealing her little creation and proudly profess to friends that I'm 40-10. Works for me!
I'm thoroughly enjoying your writings and can't wait to read more ... thank you so much for visiting my blog! Hope you'll stop by again sometime.

Happy Birthday!!! :)

Aww.. sorry I missed it!! Happy Birthday!...Just think of it as the 24th anniversary of your 29th birthday.. did I do the math right?

Beautiful cake by the way!! My wedding cake looked similar ;0) And it's purple!

OOPPS 26th ...

I LOVE this Poem, Colleen....I hadn't seen it before...Such Beautiful writing....!
When I turned 50 I was kind of gloomy---Half Century and all that...My Art Dealer Lady, a WONDERFUL woman who represented me said:"Do you know what Colette said?" And I, in a rather pitiful voice said:"No."...Joan A. said..."Colette said...'Ahhhh to be 52 again...." It was very xomforting back then. Indeed. From my Vantage point now? AHHHH to be 52 again....!

Soon I'll be writing one about turning 60!!

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