The true meaning of "Happy Birthday"

By Joe Paterno
On April 20, 2010

  • Joe Paterno

    Lay down the red carpet and hold the doors open for me. Bow down to the ground I walk upon and treat me like a king because today is my day.
    Today is my birthday.
    Clear you schedules and meet me at the bar. Line up the food platters, buy me drinks and feed me cake. I expect to be treated like President Simpson and be loved like Dennis Black.
    While most 22 year olds automatically tune into this egotistical mindset when the clock strikes midnight on their birthday, I have a different frame of mind.
    To be honest, I could care less that it's my birthday.
    Today symbolizes nothing more than that I've successfully made it through the last 365 days, thus leaving me with one less year to live. The only thing that makes today special for me is that I share it with my dad – who ironically was born on the same day 30 years prior to my existence.
    Happy Birthday, Dad.
    Birthdays give your most despised enemies a reason to wish you an insincere wish. They give old friends a reason to say hello and strangers a reason to post on your Facebook wall. They give ex-girlfriends a reason to remember why she hates you so much and new girlfriends a reason to shower you in gifts and get you in bed.
    Damn, it's too bad I'm single.
    So what does a birthday really mean? From the hospital to the cemetery, I introduce to you the true meaning of the birthday.
   
The Past

Day of birth: Congratulations, you've made it to life's starting line. It's the happiest day in your family's life as you exit your mother's womb and receive your very own birth certificate. For the next few months, your annoyance of crying, puking and pooping will make mom and dad regret that fateful day they failed to use protection.

Age 1: You made it through your first 12 months and are no longer considered an infant. You're on your way to taking your first steps and speaking a few small words, but you continue to puke and poop freely. The best part of it all is that you have absolutely no recollection of your first few years on Earth.

Age 4: Say goodbye to life inside the confines of your home because it's time to go to school. Shove your face full of cake and have fun with your latest toy, but at the end of the day, kindergarten is calling your name. Get use to the feeling of imprisonment because for the next 12-plus years, the classroom is your holding cell. Enjoy.

Ages 5-12: For the next eight years you don't have a worry in the world. Make some friends and learn life's basics. Be a kid. It's that easy.

Age 13: Here we go, let the rebellion begin – you're a teenager. Time to ignore the rules, disobey your parents and cause some ruckus. Let the hormones run wild because you're about to discover the opposite sex. Pitch your first tent and if you just so happen to wake up in the middle of the night to a wet, sticky mess – don't fret. It's natural.

Age 16: You've made it to the life's first true milestone. Make your way to the DMV, get your permit and be rewarded with a license shortly thereafter. It's time to take control of the wheel and hit the open road. It's not all fun and games, however. Grab a dictionary and look up the meaning of "responsibility." For the first time in your life, it's time you take it into your own hands.

Age 17: Hit the snooze button. There's not much to be excited for.

Age 18: You're a legal American and it's time to experience the beginnings of adulthood. Remember when you turned 13 and immature was your middle name? Not anymore. It's time to grow up.

Age 19: Oh Canada, your new best friend. For those living along the border of our friends to the north, it's time to cross the border and get crazy. Order your first legal beer and take a stroll into your first strip club. For those without access to Canada, hit snooze.

The Present


Age 20: You're nothing. No longer a teen and it's still illegal to drink alcohol. For the next 364 days, you'll be referring to yourself by the name on your fake ID and will get used to the feeling of rejection at the local town bar. Sorry. Life sucks.

Age 21:
Crack open the bottle and drown yourself in booze – it's time to party. Life's second milestone has arrived and you couldn't be more excited. Get wild and get crazy. Turning 21 is your one free pass to wear your party pants for seven days straight. You'll remember this day for the rest of your life.

Age 22: A good friend once told me that it's not so much a birthday, but more so a one-year anniversary of turning 21. Regardless, hit the snooze button again.

Age 25:
You can finally rent a car. Wow.

The Future


Age 30:
The fun is over. It's time to settle down, find a mate and bang out some kids of your own. Your career and family are top priorities. The best days of your life are officially behind you.

Age 40: Life is going downhill. Accept the fact that you're getting old. The kids are growing up and everyday seems to be going by in the blink of an eye. Work sucks and the wife is nagging you for not spending enough time with her. Your 20's seem like a lifetime ago.

Age 50: Mid-life crisis alert, mid-life crisis alert.

Ages 60-70: It's almost time to get off the road. You're driving skills are deteriorating faster than you're mind. By this time, you're starting to forget how excited you were to start driving, but I assure you, other drivers have that same feeling for you to get off the road.

Age 80:
Time's a tickin'. You've seen everything life has to offer and time's running out. The prescription drugs keep the heart beating as you share stories of your younger years to the grandkids. Enjoy what's left.

Age 100:
Pat yourself on the back; you've made it to the century mark. You likely remember very little from the past 100 years and are probably are wondering why God hasn't accepted you yet. The end of the road is near – hallelujah.

    So there you have it – the true meaning of the big birthday.
    Thank you to all who wished me a good one. But in the grand scheme of things, it's not always all that happy of a day.

E-mail: joe.paterno@ubspectrum.com
 


Get Top Stories Delivered Weekly

From Around the Web

More ubspectrum News Articles

Recent ubspectrum News Articles

Discuss This Article

MOST POPULAR UBSPECTRUM NEWS

GET TOP STORIES DELIVERED WEEKLY

FOLLOW OUR NEWSPAPER

TODAY'S PRINT EDITION

Log In

or Create an account

Employers & Housing Providers

Employers can list job opportunities for students

Post a Job

Housing Providers can list available housing

Post Housing

Log In

Forgot your password?

Your new password has been sent to your email!

Logout Successful!

You just missed it! This listing has been filled.

Post your own housing listing on Uloop and have students reach out to you!

Upload An Image

Please select an image to upload
Note: must be in .png, .gif or .jpg format
OR
Provide URL where image can be downloaded
Note: must be in .png, .gif or .jpg format