Age is Relative

My family has an issue that comes up around this time every year.  We are asked to celebrate an annual event.  That all sounds wholesome enough, right?  “How could you complain about wishing someone a happy birthday?” 

Well, her birthday only exists every four years.

Yes, my relative was born on February 29th.  Not me.  Nope.  My birthday falls on the same date every year.  Like any true American, I rigidly adhere to our agreed upon calendar.  But this insurrectionist?  This troublemaker?  This pervasive threat to our ideals and our way of life?  She comes along, stirring up things, with her made-up date.  Madness.

We have Daylight Saving Time in two weeks. We have Leap Seconds now and then. Is that not enough mucking with time?

Consider the fact that her daughter turned 16 last year.  Her mother is 11.  If we were in a giving mood, we could state that as of this weekend, her mother is 11.25 years old.  Yet that brings in the conflict.  If she really is a mature adult, then she should not be adding fractions and decimals to her age like some five-year-old.  But she will never get to an adult age if we do not fudge the numbers.  Dilemma!

If I were her daughters, I would use this to my advantage.  Here is a sampling of some of the retorts I would throw at my youthful mother:

  • When you get to be my age, you’ll know what life is really like!
  • Don’t you take that tone with me, young lady!
  • Respect your elders!
  • Your father and I feel that you are too young for this conversation!
  • Hey now, missy.  That movie is PG-13.  You wait up for me!
  • I believe only those that are old enough to drive get to sit in the front!

Yes, all of those zingers aimed at their mother must include exclamation marks.  They are, after all, teenage girls.

On the other hand, if we stick to the “you are only as old as the number of birthdays”, then it becomes legally problematic.  What has she been doing driving around and voting all these years?  Does her employer realize that they have a minor on their payroll?  Think of all the fraudulent signatures that she has wittingly committed over the years.  And someone legally married her!  Gasp!  For shame.

Then there is the gift-giving predicament.  Do we give based on the number of years that she has been on this earth, or do we give based solely on when her birth is?  My argument is that once every four years is the most accurate system.

Consider the, “but I have been on the earth this many years” argument.  Okay, so does that mean for every year you are on the earth you get a gift?  By that logic, Abraham Lincoln should still be getting birthday cakes.  You have to admit, as fascinating as he once was, he would make for a rather dry guest of honor. 

Oh sure, she could claim to have a birthday each year.  “Point to your birthday on the calendar”, I would say.  She would say, “It’s right in between those two days!”  To which I would reply, “Oh, so we should simply make up birthdays for you?  Toss in imaginary days to make you happy?  What’s to stop your kids from making up their own birthdays too?  Have these thousands of years of timekeeping methods not been good enough for you?”

My suggestion is that we tackle the birthday in fourths.  This year she would get 25% of a gift.  That way no one has to wait the entire four years to be appreciated.  And in respect for actual days, not made-up ones, the gift is not fully given until the proper day. 

“I got you the power cord to the blender!  Next year I’ll probably give you the lid.  After that will come the motor.  On the real birthday, you’ll receive the pitcher itself and you’ll be all set.  Won’t that be fun?” 

Of course, all Blu-rays would have to be coded so that only every fourth scene would play.   Each year an update would allow more of the movie to be accessed.  That sounds like a programming concern.  Hmm…

I understand that those born on February 29th suffer.  We know that whenever a medical practitioner asks them to verify their consciousness by stating their birthday, that same needle-poker will make a reply, quip, or comment on how “special” that day is.  The DMV, the police officer that pulls them over, the bank clerk; every single time.  All the more reason to relieve them of their burden.  No customized treatment for these 366ers! 

I can hear it now.  “I have gray hair!  I am raising three daughters!  I have traveled across the country!  I deserve to be celebrated each and every year!”

Yeah, yeah; poor tyke.  Life is unfair.  Get back to me when you are twelve.

About Cosand

He's a simple enough fellow. He likes movies, comics, radio shows from the 40's, and books. He likes to write and wishes his cat wouldn't shed on his laptop.
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