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Saturday, January 28, 2017

January 27th Historically Ill~Omened

Funny thing about having a mid-Winter birthday is that there is always a chance of the weather cancelling your party plans. And when you are a young person of eight without the broader understanding of either the world or world history, the limited turnout for the one party you were going to ever have is a death blow. I know I had a melt down. The melt down was going to happen because my mother had been preparing it for two weeks.That birthday set the tone for all birthdays to come, the premise of irrational cosmic connections to follow.

It started with the invitation list. The first two people on the list should have been the only two people. My best friends at the time, Lisa and Nienke. But my mother added a slew of "popular" kids to the list. True, I had been invited to their birthdays, but mom hadn't let me go to the majority of theirs so it's not like it was going to be the fairest of trades. So I guess Julie should have been allowed, but she chopped huge chunks out of my hair for which I had my butt blistered so I thought that was a good enough reason to cancel the invitation. Not so according to my mom. The list was huge. The RSVPs in reply were modest. But that started the inevitable "Look how much money you are costing me."

Next was the theme, Super Heros. Marvel or DC I didn't really care. But no. That wasn't girly enough. So it was Holly Hobby. The printed plates, napkins, coordinated paper cups, crepe papers streamers, the specialty cake pan and gobs of colored frosting, the complicated frosting pattern all were adding up. And with each dollar spent came the constant lecture of how I didn't deserve such a big party. "I didn't want a big party!" and the "No one likes you I don't know why they said yes" played on a constant loop are probably where my attitudes about social engagements come from. If you don't want to do it, don't. Especially if your begrudging participation are going to make others miserable. When she wasn't going on and on about my unworthiness, she was going on and on about how she never had a good party because her whole childhood was over shadowed by her sister's illness.

Then there was the menu. I don't know any more what all she served but she set the table as if it was Easter dinner. She expected 8 year olds to act grown up. So with each recipe completed and plated and put in the fridge for later she griped about all the food would probably go to waste. All I wanted was my dad's goulash. But we got a full holiday spread. And then there was all the lecturing about my not helping. I didn't help because my siblings never helped with their parties. Mom said that a birthday celebrates the person whose day it is and they should be treated specially. No chores, choice of food, pick the cake, pick the TV shows and they get to play with whatever toys they liked with no fighting about it. And I was always doing the dishes and helping make the meals for everyone else. So naturally I thought that the same would apply to me. It didn't. But I made it.

Then there were the games. I didn't want games. I just though we would eat, play have cake and everyone would go home. I thought it would be like when they come over after school but with better snacks. That would not b the case. Balloon decorating, pin the tail on the donkey, word games and prizes for each. And more expense. More lectures about undeserved-ness and all the things that she missed out on because of her sick sister. It was clear the night before the party that this was her birthday and not really mine. She force a comb through my hair set it in rollers and then showed me what I was wearing. Not play clothes. My sister's June birthday was swimsuits and shorts. My brother's birthday two weeks before mine was pajamas or jeans. Suddenly I was expected to be a lady. I have mentioned being a tomboy right?

The day of the party came amidst the famous weeks long barrage of weather in the Blizzard of 78. By noon as I was tacking streamers, hanging balloons and setting tables, the snow was piling high. By noon half my attendees called off. The only ones who came were those who could walk, and they were not too thrilled at having to do so. The neighbors, George and Jo came, as did Virginia. The party started at 2 and it was a stressful and chaotic as my First Communion party was. My friends wanted to play but mom made me hostess until after we ate the meal. Then the games. Games which even when declared the winner by George, our judge, I was not allowed to accept prizes for. My best friend Lisa won most by default. Everyone could see the resentment on both of our faces except my mom. By 6pm we were all a little strung out with worried about getting home in the worsening storm. And we hadn't even gotten to cake.

We did presents and cake. And it was all Holly Hobby stuff. Apparently mom told them to keep it to the theme. A theme I hated. And by the time we got to the cake, the first piece of which I had to give to my best friend, which meant I had to publicly acknowledge on over the other, something I could not do, the meltdown was primed. And it was glorious. I know I wailed and ran to my room. I slammed the door. I screamed all of the two weeks of frustration. When my sister came to our room I kicked her out. I leveled a hefty dose of angry words at my mom when she dragged me out of our room to face the crowd that "I" had embarrassed where she very publicly told everyone that there would never be another party for me again because I was ungrateful. She apologized for me and sent everyone home.

It was a very Lord of the Flies kind of a thing for me at that age. I couldn't pick one friend over another. I never have been able to, even when other friends through the years wanted me too. A hierarchy of friendship is stupid. But everyone has to have a number I guess. I've lost some friends because I can not name them #1 and I've lost some because they've ordered themselves and didn't like the order and then I've lost some because we grew apart. But I have never lost a friend because of a meltdown. That isn't what did the three of us in. That came much later. And this birthday meltdown taught me a lot about my mom. a lot about what I would consider fair in the world, and as I said, my flexible attitude toward doing things.

Truly, if you don't want to do it. Don't. It doesn't matter what the It is. If you can't commit heart and soul, out of the goodness within you, if you commit because of obligation, expectation, or any other reason than desire.... DON'T DO IT, MISTER! AND THAT'S AN ORDER!

The Birthday Debacle of 78 should have been a grand and immediate lesson. But it wasn't. I was only eight years old. I expect too much of myself. And that should have been the last need the Alpha female had to sit on my head. But it wasn't. Apparently I was born to resist. Because this was only the beginning of the concept that January 27th is the yearly Day of Doom. Something bad always happens. Sometimes it is only on this kind of a personal scale and sometimes it is global.

I don't know when she decided to do this, but at some point after this debacle, I started getting blamed for everything from the Vesuvius eruption to Hitler.

1969 Chaffee, Grissom and White die in the Apollo I accident
1984 Michael Jackson suffered burns filming a Pepsi commercial
1938 the Honeymoon Bridge at Niagra collapsed.
1993 Andre the Giant dies
2002 1000 people killed in a stampede in Nigeria.
For several of the wars between England and France France attacked England on this day. Any Winter of Conflict in which the English Channel froze over the French walked armies across and attacked. You'd think after the first try that the English would have been better prepared for successive attacks. Sheesh.
1986 the day after my birthday Challenger explodes.
1987 I spent my birthday in court waiting to testify in a custody hearing which no one bothered to plan for ahead of time. I waited all morning for the defense attorney to interview me and declare me a hostile witness (DUH) before being released but not before having to listen to my mother complain about how horrible a mess I make of everything and how I ruined her day.
And this year, John Hurt dies.

When my mom started blaming me for everything under the sun throughout history, I got curious about omens and patterns. I read a lot as a kid and my birth date stood out as a curiosity.  So when my mom would start on her rants about wishing I hadn't been born and my link to the fates of others I came to be able to counter with the two good things that happened on my birthday:

"Mozart was born and that fat tub Henry the 8th was beheaded."

Only to find out that Henry the 8ths beheading varies from one source to the other. It was so close to midnight on the 27th when he was walked to the gallows that, depending on the story of the eager executioner who let him drop early or the lengthy process in which he suffocated on the noose, his death date fluctuates.

One can pick any date in history to see that is as ill-omened as the 27th of January. It just seems to me that in my own life time line, things that matter to me hit close to my birthday. And I am now reduced to "Well, at least Leonard Nimoy did not pass close to my birthday." That would have been a heart ache too much to bear.

This year, the War Doctor has gone, not to regenerate.

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