My birthday was last week. I didn’t really call attention to it because I think I’m not supposed to. My dad was always kind of “meh” about his birthday, so I feel like that’s what I’m supposed to do. Plus, there’s the fact that I’m a grown man and all. We’re supposed to just be cool about it, I think.
That’s me on the outside. On the inside, I’m all giddy. I get excited when people remember and I secretly want a surprise party at Chuck E. Cheese or the skating rink with all my friends from elementary school. I can’t be the only one. Everybody loves birthdays, right? It’s the one day a year that the day is completely about you, like your own little holiday. “National Me Day,” if you will. I recently celebrated my 39th “National Kris Fisher Day.” Yeah, I’m getting older. But, I don’t mind it… especially considering the alternative.
When my birthday rolled around, I didn’t expect a big fuss. I usually just like a better-than-usual dinner, maybe a little extra free time. This year, I’d have just just settled for getting off of work on time. It’s been a long year filled with long days and another one started started the very next day at 5 a.m. To my excitement, I got ahead of my work, my managers were all out of the building and it looked like I was going to be able to slip out of work an hour early.
Best. Birthday. Ever!
Then, about an hour before my planned, sneaky departure, it was brought to my attention that someone dropped the ball on something down the line and the only person able to pick up the slack was the ol’ birthday boy. After all was said and done, I ended up leaving work three hours late. I pouted all the way home.
That trip home took a lot longer than usual because there were two wrecks in the mile and a half distance from work to home. Not just fender-benders, these were blue lights everywhere, ambulances, fire trucks, re-routed traffic type accidents. I pout some more as I weave my way through extra roads and an extra couple of miles to get home.
When I get home, my daughter is in the front yard calling for our dog who had slipped out and gone exploring. When we finally located the dog, I noticed a smell. Not a just any dog smell, this was that smell of death. Dog owners are familiar with this smell.
Dogs sometimes find something that smells like dead, rotten poo wrapped with burnt hair sprayed by skunk juice mixed with the broken dreams of a truck stop prostitute. Not the kind of smell that makes you think, “Oh, he needs a bath,” but the kind of smell that makes you say “he needs a bath RIGHT NOW, don’t let him touch any of the furniture!”
All this went on before I even walked in the door to drop off my backpack. I pout as I carry this smelly jerk upstairs to wash him, as I’m the only one who can, since he absolutely hates baths and is quite the sizable canine. I wrestle him into the tub and pout some more.
It’s at this point that I notice that I’m finally acting like the child I referenced before. Y’know, the one I said that grown men aren’t supposed to be acting like as we anticipate our birthday? Here I am, turning 39, acting like I’m turning 9. I then thought about the accidents that I saw on the way home, remembering that I had to pull over for a lights-blazing fire truck and more EMT help to get to the scene. I wondered what was going on with the people involved. I wondered if they were okay or if, God forbid, they never again get the chance to go home and pout about a spoiled birthday. My Phelps Face started to melt away as I thought about how happy I was to be home with the people I love. Suddenly, that dog didn’t smell quite so bad.
I’m lying. That dog still reeked of death and rotten onions. Good lord, what is it that these dogs find to roll around in? Just thinking about that smell brings tears to my eyes!