With Christmas coming up and another one of those landmark events — so they say — for me somewhere in the vicinity, I got to thinking about what presents I will get for myself this year.
Now, my disinterest in Christmas is well known. The season, the holiday, the celebration, those are all great. The gift-giving and getting, and the headaches that go with those, not so much.
For a guy, birthdays ought to stop being important after 21. Unless you plan to run for Congress (you need to be 25) or for president (you need to be 35), it’s just another number after 21. I think my mom was ready for me to declare my candidacy for president after I hit 35. Not happening. Not even a little bit.
One night I went to the house after work and asked mom if she knew what day it was. She sat in her wheelchair, opened her datebook and stared straight at it. Most of the writing in it was letter-perfect, parochial-school-training cursive. Some was in her post-stroke scrawl.
I could hear dad’s crest falling audibly a few feet away. “Hey!” he bellowed. “It’s his boithday. We fuh-got.”
She looked at her datebook. Nothing registered. She looked up at me quizzically. She looked back at her datebook. And then came the waterworks.
Great move, I thought to myself, calling myself a few choice words in my own head, you made your own mother cry on your birthday. I could already hear the devil’s maitre d’: “Hi, Mr. Donahue, welcome to hell. Table for one?”
“Hey!” the old man bellowed again. He was close to stone deaf and thought everyone else was. “We’ll get him a cake from Baskie-Robbins ta-ma-rah,” he said, his Charlestown tenements’ accent still strong even after 40 years in the South.
Chalk that up to a bad birthday — any wonder I choose not to celebrate them anymore.
Last year’s birthday was spent watching Georgia Tech completely blow a chance at a BCS bowl bid. A great deal of profanity ensued that evening as well. My current birthday wish has been for Paul Johnson to be the next Georgia Tech coach and to leave Chris Hatcher as Georgia Southern’s coach.
As we left yet another underwhelming Georgia Tech performance against Georgia two weeks ago, my buddy, a Tech season ticket holder who knows a little about Southern, since I went there and he started ahead of Raymond Gross in high school, had been asking me for weeks who I thought the Jackets should replace Gailey with. I have been proclaiming it should be Johnson.
On the drive home, my friend quietly said, “We’ve got to get Johnson.” Yes, verily, he hath seen the light. Now, to send a few emails to my friends with Tech athletic department connections to make it happen….
Now, that would be a terrific dual birthday-Christmas present. I’m currently driving such a present to myself. It’s also what used to be known as my savings account. Two years ago, my present to myself was a long time in coming —U2 live, in Charlotte. Had been waiting more than 20 years to see them in concert and it was worth the wait and the price.
Little disappointed in the crowd, though — bunch of yuppies and poseurs who were there just because it was the “in” thing that week. Didn’t know “Gloria,” a true U2 gem, didn’t sing along with “40” as millions of others have for the band’s regular show closer. But at that time in my life, it was a vastly-needed break.
Since I am slow, maybe too slow, to get Springsteen tickets, maybe I’ll just wait to get the new Drive-By Truckers CD next month.