Turning dirty 33

Among the many things I have in common with Jesus Christ is that we both had experience turning 33 at one point in our lives.

Thirty-three proved a tough year for Mr. Christ, though. It was his last year on the planet, at least in physical form, after his homeboy sold him down the river for a few bucks.

I'm hoping my 33rd year ends on a higher note. I'm just going to assume I won't end up a martyr for billions of people across the globe. You never know, of course.

I rank birthdays right there with Casimir Pulaski Day and United Nations Day when it comes to special marks on the calendar.

I've never like them. And I've gotten plenty of heat for it. Especially in those so-very-rare times when I'm in a relationship.

It happens like this. My birthday — Aug. 24 — rolls around. I say nothing about it. It comes. Plans are made for me, which I acknowledge with a polite grin. Hey, at least I can scam a few free beers out of the deal from my friends.

I then say, "Hey, sweetie, if by some miracle we are together for my birthday next year you don't have to do anything for me. I'm not into birthdays and ... "

"What?!" she says, face frozen in shock and horror. "You're not into birthdays? Why not?"

"I don't know," I reply. "I just don't think they're a big deal because ..."

"Not a big deal! But it's your birthday! Were you abused on your birthdays as a child. That must be it."

"No," I reply. "So I was born on this random day. But I just don't see why ..."

"It's your birthday!"

"Yes. It is. But why is my birthday so impor—-"


"But ... never mind."

In the many debates I've had over the years on the merits of celebrating birthdays, I've yet to meet anyone who could counter my assertion that they're inherently no big deal in the grand scheme of things.

The only counter-argument I hear is essentially, "But it's your birthday!"

Fair enough.

This works for me until I am in a relationship and I choose not to make a big deal out of the other side's birthday.


I've learned to fake caring about other people's birthdays in my old age. One relationship adage that dawns on a man as he enters his twilight years is that some things just ain't worth arguing over. Birthdays being among the top three.

To be fair, most people don't seem to be obsessed with birthdays. It's that vocal minority that ruins it for the rest of us.

Yet, turning 33 has been interesting for the subtle reactions I'm getting when I announce my new age.

I was crashing at Fishmaster's house last weekend, the night before a Rogue River trip. I happened to mention my birthday was soon, and that I was turning 33.

He scrunched his face and inhaled sharply, as if I had told him I was having an infected wisdom tooth removed the coming week.

"What, man?" I said. "What's the big deal?"

"I don't know," he said. "That's a big one."

"Thirty-three? Why?"

"That's just ... that's getting up there."

I almost replied, "Up where, exactly?" but left it alone.

If he meant one more year closer to death, I would have to disagree. I could die tomorrow.

I believe the fear and concern being projected on me is the anxiety of the impending mid-30s.

You see, early-30s is like a second wind when it comes to youth. You are now, hopefully, set in some sort of career and have the disposable income to do fun things you couldn't do when you were, say, 23, and living on your buddy's couch in the town you attended college.

The mid-30s is the time when you "settle down" and start thinking of a house, kids, marriage and death.

Thing is, I don't mind heading full-bore into the maw of my mid-30s. I'm far happier now than I was when I was 23, broke and living on my buddy's couch in the town I went to college.

Now, I'm 33, one paycheck from being broke and living in a buddy's apartment in a town where other people go to college.

"But it's my birthday!"

Yes. And I feel fine.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471; or email cconrad@mailtribune.com.

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