When my dad was 39, my mom was 37 (a prime number), and I was 8 (two cubed) in 1976, the bicentennial of the United States at 200 years since the Declaration of Independence. My father was working at a then fledgling PRC. He had already gotten a yacht and had a house in McLean by age 39. I have a nice house in Fairfax, but little other trinkets of wealth. In fact, I am more in debt than I am comfortable with. I am way ahead of him in the kid department; like him I only have one son, but he's 17.
24 years ago, I turned 15. My mother was rip roaring drunk. She put a cake in the oven and forgot to turn it on. When she realized her mistake, she turned the oven to 250, 100 degrees cooler than the instructions on the box. The cake did not so much bake as dried. This was fine, because she passed out and the cake was in the oven, I suspect, for over a day. When she woke up, she tried to put frosting on the cake, but failed because whatever she mixed to use frosting was green, smelled like stovetop cleaner, and sort of ran like syrup. "It's a dribble cake," my mother explained. In her drunken balance, she stabbed the dried cleaner cake with one oversized wax candle shaped like Daffy Duck, splitting the cake in 2 pieces. She then went to bed, and sang happy birthday three times to nobody in a dark bedroom, and forgot my name twice. I tossed the cake, fearing my dad might eat it and get poisoned (I may hate the guy, but don't wish death upon anybody). I will point out she made this cake 4 days before my actual party, and was sober enough on the date to make a better cake and invite a friend, stevonwolf over. This was the height of my mother getting drunk on holidays, birthdays, and other special occasions. Later this would turn into a general stoned grin like those on who overdose on Valium, without any specific target dates for drunkenness.
23 years ago, I turned 16. My father, whom I suspected thought I might be gay, gave me a nudie calendar with 12 months of tasteful nudes in a spiral-bound, 16 x 24 calendar. I had now officially been creeped out.
21 years ago, I turned 18. My father was 50. My mother was 48. She would not live to see her 49th. I spent my 18th birthday with my 4 best friends; I was incredibly bitter at my mother for various things, and there'd be no way in hell I'd spend it with my dad. I played D&D on the last birthday my mom would be alive.
20 years ago, I turned 19. I was living with Bruce and Cheryl of FanTek, and helping them out at Philcon 51. Utterly depressed about my life, I vowed to forget my birthday, fearing failure and the crushing depression of celebrating my birthday alone. Bruce honored my request, and somehow, I actually forgot my birthday and was reminded I turned 19 the Sunday of the con, 1 day later, when Bruce stopped by the 2nd elevator and said, "Hey... didn't you turn 19 this weekend?" Score. The fact I successfully forgot my birthday gave me a reboot, the control I needed, and prevented further birthday trauma.
This year, my father is 70. He could have officially retired 5 years ago. He lives in a 1.2 million dollar condo on Mission Bay, in voting district 6. He has spoken to me 0 times (also 0 in hex) since 1999, when he moved away and didn't tell me where. Recently, I got a letter from a political group he and his wife attend: he claims to have 0 children. This makes me 50% sad. He has 1 grandchild. He has seen him 3 times in person. He will die alone (1).
The best thing I heard today was this:
Boss: I don't celebrate birthdays. It only reminds me I am one more year closer to death.
Coworker: But every day that's true, anyway. Why is your birthday any different?