Ah, birthdays. A time for celebration. A time for joyousness. A time for reflection on years past and years to come.
Or, in my case, a time for repressed memories to come SCREAMING to the present.
I can’t remember every single birthday I’ve ever had. That would be crazy or, at the very least, crazy impressive. My day of birth, for example, is slightly blurry. I’m told I was not an easy birth. My biological father actually once told me he thought I had some sort of mental retardation when he first saw me. Thanks, “Dad.” I was not a cute baby, it’s true. In fact, for the first few months of my life, my mother would cringe whenever strangers would ooh and ahh and ask to see her baby, a question she had loved when my sister was born. With Ceci, people would pull back the blanket and gush and say, “Oh, what a PRECIOUS child!” With me? Not so much. With me, they’d pull back the blanket and say, “Oh. Look.” Seriously.
Other birthdays are a bit more memorable. I had a Mickey Mouse cake when I turned 3. My 9th birthday was at the skating rink for roller skating madness, and also was my first coed birthday. My 16th birthday was the one where Rafael broke the basketball goal in front of my house (knocked it down with his dunkin’ skillz) and, come to find out a few years later, was also the birthday where a few friends smoked pot for the first time, at my home (VERY unbeknownst to me, a girl who still to this day has never even held a joint).
So you see? Good birthdays are more memorable.
It’s the bad ones you repress. The bad birthdays are the ones you try to forget.
Until the day you stop forgetting. Until the day you remember.
It was my 4th birthday or, as I like to call it, The Day of Doom. I’m not exaggerating, sir. The day was Doomful. Very, very Doomful.
I woke up that morning, not excited because it was my birthday, but worried and anxious because, as had been discussed constantly during the weeks preceding the waking up, my 4th birthday marked the day I would have to Give Up My Bottle. Now, before you judge my 4-year-old self and assume I was a pansy-ass little girl who had never stopped drinking out a bottle, I will clarify. I no longer drank out of my bottle. I just liked to carry it. It was a security thing. It was always empty, but I always had it. I would carry my bottle in one hand and Bunny Bunny Hop Hop (my beloved childhood stuffed animal) in the other. Oh, the fun we had! The things we saw! The adventures on which we embarked! But apparently, according to my parents, turning four meant that I would be a Big Girl, and Big Girls didn’t carry bottles.
So what should have been a joyous birthday morning was instead a somber mourning as I prepared to say goodbye to my bottle forever. I remember walking outside with my mother and putting the bottle in the trash can. I remember the garbage truck taking the bottle with the trash. I remember holding my mother’s hand and waving as the garbage truck drove away with my friend. I waved goodbye to my plastic friend with the rubber nipple.
To cheer me up, my mother decided to let me open one gift early, before the celebration with the family that evening, before we even made my cake. So I choose the small skinny box from my Crazy grandmother. I ripped the paper half-heartedly, still smarting over the loss of my bottle. Inside the box, I found Light. I found Joy. I found Happiness. To my delight, and to my mother’s displeasure (as she hated this thing), I found a My Birthday Barbie. That’s right, sir. The very morning I said goodbye to one plastic friend with the rubber nipple, I received a new, more different plastic friend with new, more different rubber nipples.
The world righted itself and I was happy.
To celebrate my happiness, my mother and I got to work baking my birthday cake. I *loved* helping my mother in the kitchen, but baking was my favorite, and baking my birthday cake? Best thing ever. I would help pour and stir, measure and taste. I was so interested in the whole process, an interest that would, that fateful day, lead to severe injury and drama.
You see, along with my keen interest in baking, I had very long, very lovely blonde hair.
I also had a propensity to lean over things in which I was interested.
Things like bowls.
Bowls in which mixers were beating cake mix.
Do you see where I’m going with this?
I present to you, dear friends, Evidence of my Doomful cake-baking experience:
I can’t quite remember the exact sound my hair made as it was sucked into the mechanism of the mixer, but I’d like to imagine it sounded something like, “Wwwshrck.”
Please notice the tears. Please notice the utter defeat and sadness on the face of such a sweet girl who had already been FORCED to say farewell a dear friend just a few short hours prior to this debacle. Please note the mother who IGNORED HER DAUGHTER’S BROKEN HEART to capture this moment for posterity.
I will accept your donations for my therapy.
Once the moment had been properly photographed, my mother untangled my hair from the mixer and, a bubble bath and blow-dry later, I was, as they say, good to go:
Please also notice the My Birthday Barbie and the Cabbage Patch slippers. I was stylish even at the age of four.
The rest of the birthday was, fortunately, much better. Cake was tasty, presents were for me, and there was no more trauma.
I survived my 4th birthday, which gave me the courage to face the rest of my birthdays. I believe this day was character-building for me and I’m convinced I made it through my big breakup unscathed because of the strength I gleaned from this experience. So thank you, Playtex Bottles. Thank you, Sunbeam Mixer. And thank you, Mama.
As I reflect on this experience, I do think it’s only fitting that this birthday girl:
Became this birthday girl:
Please notice the large forehead and slightly crossing eyes.
This photo was from my most recent birthday celebration, marked momentously by tasty food, wonderful friends, and Karaoke, where I learned 3 valuable lessons:
Thank you all again for the wonderful birthday wishes. And thank you, Mama, for capturing my trauma on film. While damaging and heartless at the time, I feel lucky to have evidence of such shenanigans.
That’s all I got!