My Crappy Birthday


Today is my 42nd birthday. I planned to write something lovely and fun. However, as it always does, my life made a turn for the weird and unexpected. I should have known better, really. Birthdays are thought of as celebration days. At the very least, they are days when the birthday guy or gal doesn’t have to wash dishes, do laundry, mow the yard, etc. Unfortunately, my birthdays never seem to cooperate with that notion.

My kids live in another state, my husband works out of town, and something in or around the house always breaks on my birthday. It’s never anything easy like, say, a busted blowdryer. It’s never been as simple as broken doorknob. No. This year, my present from the malefic gods of all I observe is a broken sewer pipe under the house. The one that’s connected to the toilet. THAT sewer pipe. I discovered it late yesterday. Can’t wait to grab a shovel and get started on the disaster relief effort under my house today.

Then, before I was fully awake this morning, my mother called. She always calls bright and early to tell me happy birthday, but today she was obviously out of whack. She barely talked above a whisper. I was worried.

“Mom, is something wrong?”

“No. OK, yes. Your dad. He was hateful this morning . . .”

She went on for a while talking about campers and gardens before eventually saying, “Oh. Happy Birthday”.

Well, Howdy-Do. I love being awakened on my birthday by someone who was already in a bad mood before they called. I’ve never understood why people do that sort of thing. By the time we got off the phone, she was angry with me over something I can’t quite my put my finger on, but imagine is related to the fact that she and my dad had a disagreement over their morning coffee. She is usually very chipper on my birthday, so their disagreement must have been a doozy. Aren’t birthdays fun?

Last week, before the plumbing incident, I decided that this would be a fantastic birthday. I’m comfortable being in my forties now, my husband has an incredible job offer that he is getting ready to accept (if they will ever send him his contract), and winter seems to have finally gone back to sleep. Life was good last week. I should have known better.

I called my younger son for one of our bi-weekly two hour talks. All I ever want from my boys, as far as birthday gifts go, is a phone call. I decided to drop a hint.

“So, guess what next Friday is.”

“Um . . . lemme think. Oh! It’s Good Friday!”

“Yes. And?”

“Um . . . oh! Good Friday is in April. It’s somebody’s birthday. Is it Nana’s?”

“Good guess, since we have at least a hundred birthdays in April, but no. Guess again.”

“Aunt Alyse?”

Heavy sigh

“It’s not your birthday, is it?”

“Yes. My birthday is on Good Friday this year. You’re going to call me, right?”

“I can do that. Oh, wait. Will you send me a text to remind me?”

“You’re joking.”

“Why would I be joking?”

“You want me to send you a text to remind you to call me on my birthday.”

“Was that a question?”


“Oh. I hoped it was a question.”

“Please explain to me why you think I should text you to remind you to call your MOTHER on her birthday.”

“Um. Because I am forgetful?”

“Was that a question?”

“Mother (He always calls me ‘Mother’), seriously. Being in college makes a person stupid. You should know this.”


“That’s not what I meant. I meant that being in college requires a person to remember so much that normal stuff doesn’t fit anymore. So please, would you send me a text so that I can remember to call you?”

“Nice try, and no. Get a pen and write it down.”

“A pen?”

A pen and paper. Write it down on a piece of paper.”

“I don’t use paper.”

“You don’t use paper.”

“Was that a question?”


I doubt he will remember to call me until tomorrow when his brother asks, “Did you call Mom?” and he responds with the proverbial head slap.

This will not be a good birthday. I am certain of it. I sent the pity party invitations out yesterday when the sewer pipe broke. Mind you, I’m not really planning for it to be bad, I just know that it will. My birthdays are always lame. One year I decided to bake myself a cake, but I forgot it was in the oven until it was too late. I really wanted cake; I got a giant chocolate hockey puck. Another year, I colored my hair and it turned orange. Yet another year, I stepped on a nail and ran it completely through and out the top of my foot. (Tetanus shots are not good birthday presents, no matter how hot that male nurse happened to be, but on the upside I didn’t have to have one the next time I stepped on a nail.) Still another lamentable birthday found me cleaning up loose fiberglass insulation all over the laundry room. My dog fell through the ceiling (don’t ask), landed on top of the dryer and knocked himself out cold. Ok, so maybe that birthday was a little worse for him than me, but still.

Considering my bad luck with birthdays, I could have just stayed in bed today. However, something besides Gypsy’s wet nose on my cheek made sure I couldn’t fall back asleep this morning. It was the eternal hope. Everyone has hope about something. Even I have hope for birthdays, and that’s saying a lot. This morning, as I sip my coffee, I fantasize about getting a real bakery cake. I imagine someone singing Happy Birthday because they want to, and not because someone is pinching the tender flesh beside their elbow. I think about someone -- anyone -- saying, “Put your feet up; I’ll handle the dishes.” Some day, that will happen. Today, I get to shovel.



    Look at it this way, from here on out your days can only get better until next April 2nd. ;)

    I'll make you a cake, darlin'. Chocolate or pineapple upside down cake with extra cherries and real whipped cream?

  2. Chocolate! (With cherries and whipped cream too?)

  3. Happy Birthday! I would bake you a cake, but I like you and all my baked goods are considered armed and dangerous. Instead I'll just wish for a couple of hot Roto-Rooter guys to show up at your door!

  4. Happy birthday to you,
    Happy birthday to you,
    Happy Birthday, dear Carole,
    happy birthday to you!

    (How was my singing?)

    My kids need constant reminders of when my birthday is.

    I think you are a wonderful person and if I could I'd come by and wash your dishes for you. And I'd make you a cake. I make very delicious cakes, according to my family.

  5. Singing: Awesome
    Reminder: Made me feel less neglected
    Your offer?: Awwwwwwwh. And I'd share. :-)

  6. Happy birthday, Carole!

    Like we discussed yesterday, 42 is a biggy!

    If I was there, I'd give you a hand, sewage or no.



  7. *Amy chimes in with Kathy to sing Happy Birthday*

    *Kathy looks on in horror as Amy gives the song a whole new tune in a minor key*

    *Carole chases Amy around yard with shovel for ruining the only good thing that's happened today.*

    *Carole is able to catch Amy to give her a good wallop because Carole is only 42*

    Glad I could cheer you up! What are friends for?

    Happy Birthday, Sweetie!

  8. "My dog fell through the ceiling (don’t ask), landed on top of the dryer and knocked himself out cold." WHAT?!! You do have terrible birthday luck. I've never heard of that happening to anyone on a normal day, let alone a birthday. Is it mean that I'm laughing a little?

    May this be the birthday that breaks the curse! Put your feet up. I'll do the dishes.

  9. Adam! I looked it up, and you are SO right! 42 rawks!

    Amy: ROFL! Where have you been all my life? Can you be my long lost sister?

    Kristen, things like that happen to me ALL the time, birthday or not. I feel the need to explain how Monster fell through the ceiling. He found a way, no matter what we did, to get into the attic over the garage from the back yard by going up an exterior staircase. He'd bump and fight with the door until he got it open, no matter how we secured it. The floor of attic led to the ceiling of the laundry room. He was a bog dog, and so the attic floor couldn't support his weight. Why he wanted to roll around in loose insulation escapes me.

    Now, my next article needs to be about all my many accidents like the time the guy I worked with dropped a kitchen stove on my head. You just can't make stuff like that up!

  10. Girl as of Today, You have a new Birthday tradition. If you ask my Ty, when is Mom's Birthday, Ty will say well she doesnt have one, she has 364 Un-birthdays. We have had that rule since Ty watched Alice over a decade ago and altho it is my favorite movie EVER apparently 15 years olds do not go see Alice In Wonderland. So, having said all of THAT. You can remember next year that you can leave it to chance for one day or take the average of the good and bad of 364. You are beautiful, fantastically smart and talented and truly just how bad will that ole sewer be tomorrow than it isnt already today. My thought is take up your son's slack and use that paper. Write youself a list of all of the things you are doing today that someone else will owe you for. GO buy you the best damn birthday cake ever and all of the drinkies you want to have. Call the sewer guys and tell them that you want two very hot and clean sewer guys to come over (just for the reactionary value of course :) Do your hair however you feel, apply makeup however you feel and wear whatever you feel. Turn up whatever music you feel (i sent you something btw) and dance however you feel. Today is your day and every other day is your day too because You are Carole and you are loved Birthday or Not.

  11. Melissa, there is a reason I have known you practically since birth and still adore you--you are AWESOME! You made my whole day.

    I WILL buy myself the best damn birthday cake ever.
    I WILL buy a bottle of Fat Bastard.
    I WILL wear blue eyeliner, even if it is technically illegal
    And I am off to listen to that Cyndi Lauper mega birthday mix you sent and dance until the dogs consider sending me for therapy.


  12. Happy Birthday, dear Carole! I said this in a chipper, springtime is here voice. And when your husband signs the contract for his awesome job, he can take you out to a posh restaurant without your mom or forgetful son--just the two of you!

  13. Jeanette, that is a lovely thing to think about. I shall live on it until it happens! :-)

    Lively Squaw (LOVE that name!), I am beginning to agree with you. 42 ain't so bad after all. And like I mentioned earlier, it's certainly better than my only other alternative!

  14. Carole--I accept. You now have a *slightly* older sister that sings off key, can't grow plants, and has to go into the Witless Protection Program before she can pick up a glue gun again. See how much better this birthday is going?!

  15. You guys, this has been a terrific birthday. Really. Ya'll are officially AWESOME!

  16. Happy Birthday! Hope you got some little piece of HAPPY for your day... :)

  17. In fact, at around 9:00 p.m. I decided I wanted cake. Cake and ice cream. I got cake and ice cream. It was lovely. : )

  18. Happy Birthday! I'm sorry I missed it. :)

  19. Happy belated birthday, Carole!

  20. You poor thing. Happy really-belated birthday!

    And THROUGH the ceiling? Oy.

  21. Through the ceiling. Oy. You have zombies in your back yard and see tumbleweeds in Michigan. I have crooked round windows and dogs that fall through ceilings.


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