Yesterday marked the beginning of my thirty-fifth year on this good, green Earth, yet I don’t really feel all that much older. I definitely don’t feel any wiser, which is no great shock considering that I’m already the Smartest Man Alive and have been for quite some time. No, if anything, all I feel is a little bit more tired and slightly more rundown, with just a hint of smug satisfaction that comes from having been through my life thus far and not having surrendered to its various afflictions and miseries. Not that it’s been all bad, mind you, but in my experience, whenever life is at its best is when some unexpected turn of vicissitudinous woe leaps from the murky depths of wretchedness and slaps me across the face like a wet herring. So, it is with a substantial level of apprehension that I approach my future, considering just how great things are right now. Past experience has conditioned me to expect the bottom to drop at any moment…
I don’t want to dwell on all of my life’s ups and downs, though. Not today, anyway. I’m sure that every person reading this has experienced their own share of life’s blessings and curses, and I don’t want to reopen any old wounds that some of you may have finally had scab over by now, nor do I wish to pick at any of my own crusty platelets, either. Rather, I’ll simply relate the events of yesterday quickly and cleanly, then leave you before things take a turn for the unnecessarily introspective. Besides, thirty-five isn’t so bad. Sure, it’s on the back side and sliding towards forty, but it’s still a birthday. After a few more years, my birthdays will become ‘Glad you haven’t died, yet!’ days, and I’ll likely sink into a deep pit of depression from which the only escape can be found in the lush leather seats of a flashy sports car – but I’m not there yet!
My day started with a delicious breakfast prepared without my intervention by my lovely wife’s very own hands. This by itself is no great or astonishing thing, seeing as how she’s taken to cooking most of our meals since we decided she should be a stay at home mom for a while, but because this was my birthday breakfast, everything seemed a bit more special. After breakfast, we lounged around the house alternating between watching movies and playing Rock Band until it was time to go get Trey from his father’s, who had graciously offered to return Trey early as a way of making up for bringing him back late on the day we left for Disney World. We picked him up, paid a brief visit to Brittany’s sister to drop of some Mickey Mouse Club ears to her daughter and husband, then hopped back into the car and drove to the mall. I needed a haircut and, since I apparently left my new supply of disposable contacts back in our hotel room at Disney World, I wanted to stop by the eye doctor’s office and buy some more.
I never made it to the doctor’s office, however. While I busied myself straining to make painful small talk with the unhappy cosmetologist that was aggressively cutting my hair with a suspicious and disconcerting level of enthusiasm that made me feel like I was playing Judge Turpin to her Sweeney Todd, Brittany and Trey meandered away in the direction of the cookie stand so that the little guy could choose the coolest, most awesome cookie cake for my birthday. For whatever reason, he declined choosing the cookie with the electric guitar in favor of one with a couple of love birds looking at each other whilst heart shapes flitter about in the sky overhead. He explained to me that one of the birds was me, the other was himself, and Mama was the floating collection of hearts.
I’m not sure what to make of any of this, though. Considering the fact that I am clearly more accurately depicted by a cherry red electric guitar than a sappy love bird, I can’t help but think that Trey was either lured by the siren’s call of extra icing, or that he is simply unaware of how awesome I am. Then again, he might have just wanted a design with two of the same thing on it so that one could be him and one could be me, with Mama playing some sort of ephemeral role as a benevolent and omnipresent heart-shaped entity signifying eternal love and support. Of course, it’s entirely possible that he just allowed his toddler mind to latch onto the first cake he saw that had a lot of icing, which he undoubtedly planned to smear all over his face as soon as the opportunity presented itself. And, since he wanted that opportunity to present itself as quickly as possible, he made it clear that taking the time to go by the eye doctor’s would be a tragic mistake, so we skipped that particular spot.
Before I found them at the cookie stand, they had already bought me a birthday present and an oversized card, both of which I would receive later, after we were finally back home. We ate dinner, then Brittany carried the cookie over to our dining room table and jabbed a whimsical candle into its center. It was shaped like a question mark, which Brittany intended as a subtle jibe to my increasing elderliness, but that I quickly turned into yet another Dark Knight reference when I put on the Joker voice and complained about the Riddler decorating my cake. Yes, sometimes I am a geek. Sometimes.
We ate the cookie and I opened my card and present, the latter of which was a game for the Nintendo Wii called Toy Story Mania. The game is based off a ride by the same name at Disney World, although the home version is considerably less disturbing than its big brother. In the ride at Disney World, you put on some 3D glasses and sit in a little car that drives itself to various screens, where you then use a canon to launch different projectiles at the digital cast of the Toy Story movies. It’s a fun ride and Trey enjoyed it, which is why I thought the home version would be a fun thing to have. With visions of he and Brittany and I all playing together just like we did back at Disney World, I popped in the disc and started playing. In this version of the game, you simply point at the screen with your Wiimote, then push the A button to launch pies or darts or eggs at targets placed around the scene. It’s fun, but it does not entirely recapture the spirit and feel of the original, much more masturbatory version found at Disney World.
In the ride itself, you see, you tug on a little cord with a ball at the end to launch your projectiles which, thanks to the excellent 3D effect, seem to shoot straight from your cannon and fly off towards whatever target you’re aiming at. This all sounds well and good in theory, but in practice, the whole thing translates to a furious and steadily increasing stroking motion that has you tugging on the cord faster and faster as you play the game, trying to outscore your opponent by simply firing your cannon more often than they do. The whole thing ends with a finale that encourages you to jerk the little cord as hard and as fast as you can, until the ride comes to a climactic finish in an explosion of confetti accompanied by a well-timed burst of air. The whole ride seems to scream inadvertent sexuality, but maybe it’s just me. Still, if you ever get a chance to take a spin on Toy Story Mania, do yourself a favor and put in a little quality time with a Shake Weight, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the ride’s required motion. Acclimating yourself to the repetitive movements just might make the difference between being the elated winner of your ride car, or its pitiable and ill-prepared loser!
Of course, the home version – as I’ve said – is considerably less thrilling than the actual ride, but it’s still a lot of fun for a bit of family entertainment. After the game, we played with trains a little and read a story before climbing into bed at the end of the night. It may not have been a particularly exciting birthday filled with all manner of diversions and debauchery, but it was nice, all the same. Better than nice, really. It was small and intimate and, most importantly, it was a day spent doing family things with my family, which is perhaps the best present I could ever receive. I’m glad I made it to thirty-five for exactly two reasons, and they are the last two things I think about before I fall asleep at night, and the first faces I see when I wake in the morning. Their names are Brittany and Trey, and I wouldn’t trade the worst parts of my life today with any of the best parts of all my yesterdays, if it meant they wouldn’t be in my life. I couldn’t wish for anything better than what I have right now.
Then again, I’ve always wanted a Porsche…