I underwent my forty-second birthday in June. I’m still working through the grieving process. Birthdays have turned into harrowing ordeals ever since I turned forty. I remember when they used to be festive celebrations. My mother would still be scrubbing cake frosting out of the carpet and picking up piñata fragments when I begin whining, “I can’t wait ‘til my next birthday!” Nowadays, however, my birthday parties are muted, embarrassed affairs. My wife or son will sidle up to me and awkwardly press a birthday card into my palm as if it were a breath mint that I badly needed. “Happy…you know…’B-word’.” they murmur, and then wince as if expecting me to slap their mouth.
I can’t eat birthday cakes any more. The sugar in the frosting gives me a hyperglycemic reaction, the smoke from the candles exacerbates my facial eczema, the chocolate stokes my GERD and I am lactose intolerant of the ice cream. A couple years ago, my wife thought she had found the solution. She got an idea from a baby shower she attended where somebody made the “most darling” simulated cake out of disposable diapers. So for my next birthday, as everyone shouted “Surprise!” my wife walked into the room carrying a cake she had made out of Depends. I think she frosted it with Preparation H. The guests really enjoyed themselves that year.
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