in which we discuss various birthday-related things

Posted on: October 1, 2012

Of all my recent birthday-related escapades, the greatest was someone trying to sell me a $425.00 watch. This was not, I should clarify, some back-alley deal, conducted under the cover of night out of the trunk of a car, with shady characters trying to unload some ill-gotten gains; rather, it was simply the result of a salesman, shooting for the stars, maybe new to the job and unable to recognize some key signs of financial well-being, or possibly confused enough by recent trends in women’s wear that, to him, holes along the seam of every garment a person is wearing is a deliberate fashion choice, rather than a hint that, say, the coat was actually picked up out of a pile of things that didn’t sell at a yard sale.

The watch I was looking to replace was in much the same shape as my wardrobe that day. Purchased an unknown number of years ago at a mall cart from a bored-looking young woman, that initially inexpensive watch had reached the point where it could no longer be repaired : despite several upgrades to the band; a constant infusion of fresh batteries; and replacing the cracked not-crystal crystal, the hands of time were winding down for that watch (yup : I said that). In fact, that watch stopped for good at 12:40 Saturday afternoon, which I noticed at 3:13 when I looked at the clock on my computer and suddenly realized that I did not have quite as good a handle on the day as I’d thought. Or on the passage of time in general, as I had earlier that afternoon greeted the student employee who I knew was scheduled to arrive at 2 o’clock.

Now, however, is not the time to discuss how I seem to keep getting dumber (although that is on the agenda), but how I need a new watch. A less urgent need on my actual birthday than today, to be sure, but what better occasion to treat oneself? And what better place to buy a watch than a watch store? A store would be a nice upgrade from that mall cart. And what better watch store than the only watch store in the world whose location I actually know, is within walking distance of my house, and is conveniently located just a few blocks from the tea store I planned to go to anyway?

So it was that someone tried to sell me a $425.00 watch. Which would have been a nice upgrade indeed from my cobbled together mall watch, but, as I informed the salesperson, wildly outside of my price range. Although the salesperson expressed a willingness to negotiate, he was not, alas, in a position to lower the price by $400 dollars, and so I exited the store, with no watch and, thus, no birthday present for myself.

*     *     *

Although I typically enjoy buying myself a birthday present just as much as I enjoy taking the day off work, the lack of a present this year was not a terribly big loss – 39, as an age, doesn’t have a lot to recommend it. Sure, it’s a multiple of 3, so it’s got that going for it, but it’s also a multiple of 13, and that I don’t particularly care for. Not because of superstition, but because I find it offensive when a prime number is a factor of another number. Why do you get to have it both ways, 13? Jerk.

Obviously, that does not apply to prime numbers less than 10, or that have 4 or more digits.

The selfishness of 13 aside, what 39 is most remarkable for is what it’s not, and what it’s not is 40. A multiple of 5 and loaded with cultural significance, 40 dwarfs 39 – as well as 38, which, thanks to the natural supremacy of even numbers, has no factoring issues – to such an extent that 39 as an age doesn’t actually exist, but instead is just a lie that you tell when you don’t want to admit that you’re 40. Which presents a problem if, like me, you have no problem admitting to 40. Unlike 29, which is clung to desperately and filled with the dread of 30, 39 is just a place holder, one last scenic overlook from which to gaze at the view of 40 and wonder why you’re not there yet, because you’re ready to round that turn and start the slow, easy coast downhill. But, before you can do that, you have to get through the next year, which will feel like a lie even though it’s true.

*     *     *

I did, however, get several lovely birthday presents from other people this year, most of which were tea related. Which I appreciate, because I do love the tea. In fact, before I realized that my watch was on the way out, I had toyed with the idea of getting myself a gift of tea, such as an unnecessarily fancy tea set for which I have no use whatsoever. Which, before ending up broken, would probably not get much use, since most of my tea drinking happens at work.

The thing about drinking tea at work is that it requires a cup out of which the tea is drunk. That’s actually probably a thing about drinking tea anywhere. But, the specifics of dishware at work means that the dishes need to be washed, and the thing about, washing dishes at work is that it just doesn’t seem like they really get clean. It could be because the choice of soap is not up to me, because the dish scrubber is used by multiple people, or because the scrubber is used to the point where just touching it is enough to make your hands smell or infect any small cuts you may have.

The solution to this dilemma is to bring the cup home to wash at the end of every day, then bring it back to work in the morning. And, since there are cups designed specifically to be carried around, it’s actually pretty easy to make tea at work. Yet, somehow, the process falls apart for me, specifically, in getting the cup home, not because of forgetting the cup, but because, no matter how empty the cup is or I believe it to be, it will inevitably end up spilling beverage all over the inside of my bag. And, if I’m having an especially good day, I will discover this not when I reach into the bag and find a puddle of tea, but when the tea seeps onto my pants where the bag bounce against my legs.

*     *     *

And so, despite the dishonesty of 39, I have, this year, decided to accept a hard truth : I will never be a person careful enough to check if the cup is really empty, and, despite years of evidence to the contrary, I will apparently always believe I can prevent it from spilling simply because I want it not to spill. This is a problem that I can not fix alone, and so I have accepted the help of design experts and engineers, as I should have years before when the technology first became available, and bought myself the gift of a  spill-proof travel mug, although I, obviously, bought mine at Tealuxe rather than Amazon, because I support independent business, and because my pants had tea on them and I needed to fix the problem right then and there. Because I can not be 40 with tea on my pants.

And if I do, it’s the mug’s fault.


2 Responses to "in which we discuss various birthday-related things"

I was so glad to find your blog again. Happy Birthday!

Thanks, Brad! It’s great to hear from you again!

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