Catching Spirit

So here I am with my birthday suit on under my store-bought outfit, having spent the better part of the day wearing just the former and contemplating how, when I was little, my parents had a house, a car, two children, jobs in offices with other people and even some honorary pets that cruised in and out of our yard especially when they needed a quiet place to procreate or relieve feline diarrhea. At the time, watching this picture of my parents’ life from my vantage point of two feet two inches, I simply accepted that once I was as tall as them, I too would have a house, a car, a job in an office with other people, some stray pets and, as soon as I figured out where babies came from, two children. All this having been before I had any notion of feelings or money, I was happy just being sure of the what. I didn’t lose much sleep over the how.

Well, now I know where babies come from, and that birthday suits feature significantly in the process, but that’s the least of my worries. Sleep is what is at a premium these days. The knocked-out, stone cold sleep of the comatose that never seems to come without the aid of alcohol, drugs or the snooze button. Unless your sleep is induced by one of these, staying asleep once asleep is no easy feat. Even babies, those professional sleepers, can’t manage it. But it’s okay for them. They’ve got a pair of soft arms and an improvised lullaby on permanent standby. It’s not so bad even for grownups. Only once you’ve crossed over from grownup to grownold does the fun cease. What I, for my part, wake up to in those witching hours can be none other than those evil spirits that, in olden times, were said to visit a person on their birthday. Well these fools must think every day is my birthday, showing up as they do every night around 3am like clockwork, insinuating that I’m nearer the end than the beginning, that the best might already be past and so on and so forth.

Research has it that birthday parties started as a way to ward off those evil spirits. People would gather round the individual, bringing cheer, good thoughts, gifts and, most importantly, noisemakers to scare off the bad guys. Makes you glad for your loved ones, don’t it? Those unsuspecting spiritual gladiators on your behalf? Makes you wish they would put on the cake as many candles as it will hold, the more light to remind the gods upstairs to send you a helping hand, the more smoke to send up your wishes and prayers, don’t it? (That, apparently, is the origin of birthday candles and the custom of blowing them out.) Makes you wish every day was your bday don’t it? So what if birthdays are portrayed in a negative light in The Good Book and have historical connotations with magic, superstition and paganism? So what if birthday parties were once an elitist thing reserved for royalty only? I say bring on the crown! Bring on the hocus-pocus! Somewhere in the distant past there’s a little girl still waiting for certain visions to become reality and somewhere on the perpetual future there’s a big girl in need of a good night’s sleep.

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