Happy Birthdays to Me

Highlights — and lowlights — from my self-celebratory shindigs over the years.

Confession time: I make kind of a big deal out of my own birthday. (Which is August 5, if you haven’t already marked it on your calendar. Hint hint.) I’ve been known to drop reminders as much as six months in advance. If it’s the fifth day of any particular month, it’s fair game.

I’ve been planning my parties each year since high school or earlier; my sister had plans to throw me a surprise party for my 18th birthday but scrapped the idea when I got antsy and started plotting out my own festivities and badgered her for input. And of course, I’ve scoured the Internet for trivia about my own special day. Last year I even wrote a blog post detailing the historical performance of the Orioles on August 5.

Anyway, with Crunchable celebrating eight years of online witticisms and enlightenments, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to share some of my own birthday memories, in both written and photographic form.


As my eighth birthday rolled around, I was on a big Dick Tracy kick. The film starring Warren Beatty came out that summer, and I was inexplicably hooked. My parents pulled out all of the stops, with a homemade cake in the style of the lantern-jawed detective’s two-way wrist radio (technology!) and a mystery/scavenger hunt that featured clues written on the back of big paper question marks and placed strategically around the yard.

As it turned out, rain hampered the hunt, but the biggest mystery of the day was just what happened to these cupcakes. For a reason that has become lost to time, the “blue” icing turned out to be some sort of hue found only on the sides of an aircraft carrier. Thinking on her feet, my mother passed the bite-sized treats off as “bombs”. They didn’t taste any worse for it.



Here’s photographic evidence that I’ve been a wrestling geek since the days when neon clothing was still considered socially acceptable.

To be fair, that was a damned cool wrestling ring. It had little plastic turnbuckles, ring steps, and a replica championship belt for my action figures! That’s right; they’re action figures, not dolls. Don’t you forget it.


The real joy of grade-school parties is that it’s usually common courtesy to invite everyone in one’s class, no matter what interpersonal conflicts may exist. Generally, things went off without a hitch, but this year was the exception to that rule. There was one girl in particular — we’ll call her “Jenny” — who was just plain nasty to most people. I don’t remember exactly what happened, but there was some rough-housing in our swimming pool and Jenny somehow hurt and/or upset a boy named Adam. Well, Adam’s cousin Justin was also in our class, and he wasn’t going to stand for that. His perfectly reasonable response was to hurl a hard plastic floating chlorine container at her face.

I didn’t see the whole incident go down, but I have it on good word that Justin’s aim was true. Moments later, he ran over to the rest of us, crowing: “Right between the eyes, Adam! I got her right between the eyes!”

No assault charges were pressed.


This was one of a few parties during my adolescence which had a very low turnout: Summer birthday parties were always a crap shoot, and with family vacations interfering, only two or three of my closest friends showed up to celebrate. Case in point: My best friend Joe and my buddy H.D. were the sum total of guests as I turned the big 1-4.

We were in the garage when Joe spotted an empty box that had once contained Fat Boy brand oversized ice cream sandwiches and shouted, “Hey, Fat Boy!” H.D., who was a bit chunky, didn’t see the box and reflexively shouted, “Shut up!”

By the way, this isn’t actually a photo from 1996, because I couldn’t find any photos from that year. I believe this picture is from my 13th birthday in 1995; it’s exhibit “A” in the case of why I don’t remember middle school fondly


Again with the wrestling. Earlier that summer, I’d learned that WWE (nee WWF) would be taping its weekly live “Monday Night RAW” program at the Baltimore Arena on … August 5. It was too perfect. My folks bought me two floor seats to the show as my gift, and I went downtown with good friend and fellow “sports entertainment” diehard Boothe to be a part of the action.

What followed was two hours of stultifying non-action.

The main storyline of the show was that born-again Christian/homoerotic middle-aged cowboy Shawn Michaels had been brutally beaten by a mystery man in the parking lot the previous week’s show, and his best buddy Triple H (homoerotic, sledgehammer-wielding Neanderthal who mysteriously started winning championships after becoming romantically linked in real life to the daughter of WWE honcho Vince McMahon) was on a crusade to find the nefarious assailant.

Though it was painfully obvious that Mr. H himself was the culprit, the audience was treated to multiple backstage vignettes — shown on the giant video screen in the arena — in which he interrogated other suspects. The show culminated in yet another televised confrontation, in which Shawn appeared “via satellite” to reveal his attacker was really (gasp!) Triple H, and that he would return to show him what-for at the next pay-per-view TV special.

So we went to a live event and spent half of our time essentially watching television. I have a feeling that Vince McMahon would have gotten along pretty well with P.T. Barnum.


Our final episode here is not one of my prouder moments.

For my 23rd birthday (also my first in my new apartment), I had a craving for Jagermeister. If you’ve never had the pleasure of sampling this beverage, I would describe the taste as a combination of licorice and Robitussin. Urban legend maintains that one of the key ingredients is deer’s blood, and judging by the taste that sounds about right. (But actually, there is a deer’s head on the label because Jagermeister is German for “Master hunter.”) In college, Boothe once claimed that drinking it caused him to have evil thoughts.

Yet in the presence of several friends, I spent the entire evening quaffing this murky brown liquid from my frosted Homer Simpson mug. By the end of the night, I’d killed three-quarters of the 750 mL bottle. In the midst of a lively game of Apples to Apples, I actually began hiccupping uncontrollably like a drunk from a 1940s Looney Tunes short.

Remarkably, I did not suffer any ill effects the next day. Less remarkably, I have not had many hankerings for Jagermeister ever since.

Article © 2009 by Kevin Brotzman