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Time to Fight About ‘Birthday Adults’

It's my party and I will troll if I want to.

It is the year of our lord 2021 and things are…. Chaotic. The west coast is on fire, the east coast is under water, Covid deniers are eating horse dewormer instead of just getting the vaccine, and thanks to Texas, Roe v. Wade is now functionally dead. America is in shambles! Or rather, our shambles have somehow managed to intensify since last year. We are shamblier than ever! And when things become overwhelming, we turn to Twitter to do the only thing we can – fight with strangers about a complete non-issue because it gives us back a small sense of control!

That’s right, we are going to talk about “Birthday Adults.” In 2019 (which in internet time was approximately 57 years ago), Katie Hearney wrote a scathing, humorous take down of people who celebrate “birthday weeks” or worse, “birthday months” for The Cut. And because New York Magazine (much like Marie Kondo) loves mess, they decided to stir the pot and re-share the article. The results were… not surprising. Twitter users immediately decried this senseless attack, with Birthday Adults and the “Let People Enjoy Things” crowd (of which there is probably a lot of overlap) joining together to stand their ground and defend their love of self-celebration.

And of course, people immediately went from defending their love of birthday parties to personal attacks on the author of the piece. In two short years we have lost the ability (or desire) to read small-scale, comedically cranky op-eds. What once would have elicited an “ugh, rude!” now engenders calls to unsubscribe from the magazine.

But that’s not what I want to talk about. As a person who’s birthday is the most dreaded of national holidays – VALENTINES DAY – I have grown accustomed to moving my birthday to a different day or weekend because otherwise I spend it alone. Coupled friends want to spend the day with their partners, single friends want to spend it moping with a bottle of wine as their only companion. And let’s not even talk about being single and trying to get a date on your birthday when that birthday is the national holiday for love and romance! Dudes would get… so weird. This is all to say, that I understand and empathize with the Birthday Adults! I have even, upon occasion, had birthday weekend trips! Once I was diagnosed with cancer, I decided to embrace being extra whenever I damn well felt like it! And I was shocked to see how many friends were happy to use my birthday as an excuse to go on a fun trip!

What I want to talk about are the ways adults react to the annual reminder of their mortality and ever encroaching death. They tend to fall into three distinct yet valid groups.

Birthday Adults

People who like to make a big deal of their birthday (for whatever reason, be it making up for past trauma, having a large ego, etc) and celebrate it for longer than the official twenty four hour period. The Birthday Adult spectrum can range from posting about their “birthday week” and all the ways they are treating themselves, to having a birthday weekend trip, to having a full month of birthday parties. Friends may or may not be expected to participate in all birthday related activities. They enjoy being the center of attention and relish the rituals of their passing/distant youth. A lot of Birthday Adults are also Disney Adults.

NBD Adults

The “No Big Deal” adults are fine with a birthday celebration that consists of dinner or a small group gathered for drinks. They don’t really think about their birthday all that much. In fact, they usually forget about it entirely until the day of. They don’t love their birthday, but they don’t hate it. They just… don’t care. They are the true neutrals, and as most people get into their higher decades, they end up falling into this category. Strong emotions, like parties, are a young man’s game.

I Was Never Born Adults

These are the people who, again for whatever reason, hate their birthdays. They don’t want presents, cards, or even a “Happy Birthday” post on Facebook, let alone a party! In fact, much like their patron saint Ron Swanson, you would be hard pressed to even find out when their birthday was unless you managed to sneak a peek at their driver’s license or ID. And even then, don’t you dare acknowledge their special day if you want to remain close to them! The best way to celebrate is to treat their birthday just like it was any other day.

And there you have it! Three different yet equally valid ways for us to celebrate (or not) that we have somehow managed to survive another year on our boiling planet! Which category do you fall in? What is your favorite way to celebrate – or not! Fantasize about your perfect day – it is Saturday after all!

What a pleasant diversion, now let’s get back to doomscrolling!

(Image via NBC Universal)

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Brittany is a lifelong Californian (it's a big state, she can't find her way out!) who currently resides in sunny Los Angeles with her gigantic, vaguely cat-shaped companion Gus. If you stumble upon her she might begin proselytizing about Survivor, but give her an iced coffee and she will calm down.