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Birthdays---I’ve Had a Few

John W. Pinkerton


A friend visited me at my home on my birthday.  Her visit and gifts were surprises.  After she left our home, I took a better look at the two standard size pages she left me.  One was about the cost of things from cars, to homes, to gas, to the price of a gallon of milk in 1942. The other broke down 80 years, my number of years since my birth, into decades, months, weeks, days, hours, minutes, and seconds.

I found that I could not relate to the number of seconds (2,524,608,000), nor minutes, nor hours, nor days, nor weeks.  When I saw that the number of months was 960, I realized that I could understand and relate to that number.  My next thought was, “Lord, how many, many of these have I wasted?”

I've never thought highly of birthdays.  For the most part, for me they're just another day.  Maybe my birthday party when I was about eight turned me off to birthdays.  I received the gift of two pairs of boxing gloves, and a young fellow a little older than me put on one pair and beat the crap out of me.  I suspect this may have turned me against birthdays…but not boxing.

However, if I'm invited to someone's birthday party, I do my part.  I say, “Happy birthday,” and present a gift. 

My nephew invited Linda and me to his home for a meal on my birthday.  I enjoyed the meal.  He's a pretty good cook.  There were a few other folks there.  We enjoyed the meal and the company.  Oh yeah, we provided a backup birthday cake which the friend had given us earlier in the day.  The only downside to the evening was when the gathering sang “Happy Birthday.”

When folks feel compelled to say something about my birthday, this one or any other, I reply, “I've had a few.”

The other page given me covered the cost of things in '42---stamp $0.3, gallon of gas $0.20, average yearly income $1,885---none of which shocked me.  I then thought, “I wonder how folks born in 2020 will feel about inflation when they are 80, or for that matter, when they are 10.”

For me, my eightieth birthday is just a number.  However, I'm having a hard time convincing my old body of this.