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JoustAbout: Birthday Blues

Joustabout with Virginia Knight, Catholic Outlook, April 2010

Virginia Knight
“What plans do you have to celebrate your birthday?” everyone had been asking me for the past few weeks. Strange, I thought. Why are all and sundry suddenly so interested, almost borderline obsessed, with the impending annual, once again ticking over, of my age dial? 

Before too long, however, mystery solved, it seemed they were referring to my encroaching half century celebration. My response, “Well as it is more than 12 months away, I have to admit that I haven’t really given it much thought!”

Misconceptions aside, it is comforting to know that your nearest and dearest are keeping a firm eye on your passage of time, and applaud their plans to emulate scouts everywhere and ‘be prepared’.

There is nothing like a bit of forward planning. However, when one considers we will barely have recovered from a wedding (see last month’s Joustabout), I may not be up to the challenge of anything at all, let alone acceptance of such a worthy, not to say doom-encrusted, milestone.

In fact, chances are all I might be capable of is a day with my feet well and truly up, planted on a comforting sofa, staring at nostalgic TV shows from more innocent youthful times, with a box of chocolates and a bottle of something sustaining to anaesthetise me through the crisis.

Hyperventilation not withstanding, in an attempt to avert the onset of a depressive tsunami, I began to devote some thought to the problem – err, celebration.

How, I pondered would I choose to unavoidably remember the occasion, always presuming having already been heralded, that it will not be allowed to slip by unnoticed?

What is my idea of an ideal day? What are a few of my favourite things to do? And having isolated a few choice activities, how can these be tailored to be enjoyed at a party in the company of those who know me best or knew me when?

And no, I am not talking about Pin the Tale on the Donkey or Pass the Parcel and all other innocuous such games which one grew out of years ago. Nor, while it may still have merit, do I feel the urge to indulge in a rousing rendition of Musical Chairs or horrifically popular Karaoke.

Even 50 years on, and despite the higher possibility of hearing impairment amongst my compatriots, the world is not yet ready for my voice raised in song and one must give consideration to brittle bones and possible hip dislocations. We are, after all, not as young as we used to be. 

For the same reason, I probably won’t be energetically manoeuvring to the extended version of the Nutbush as I did so many years ago at my 21st, dislodging then only the needle from the vinyl record every time the assembled dance troupe jumped in unison.

And tempting as it may be, I won’t be downing shots of anything at a crowded bar and trying to recall the next day what I did or did not do. These days I prefer to keep my wits about me and let’s face it the eyesight is already not as good as it used to be.  

Having already discarded such close quarters forms of entertainment as ‘Twister’ on the grounds that too many of the assembled company would be by now either too arthritic, or have too slow a reflex response, I had to admit the box of tricks was looking a bit empty.

And speaking of such, I have never liked magicians, or clowns for that matter. Pony rides would never work in a terraced backyard and bounding around in a jumping castle in the second half of life would be an OH&S nightmare and undoubtedly not a good look. So much for youth recaptured.  

Now having well and truly exhausted at this point that which I would not like to do, all things considered, what I would like to do is just to spend a quiet afternoon at home in the company of my family and friends.

No bells or whistles, weird telegrams, people jumping out of cakes, fireworks, loud music or disco balls and strobing lights.

Just good food, fine wine, a bit of quality jazz with a mellow voice playing in the background, fun conversation full of reminiscences, dreams, aspirations and opinions, and special people to share it all with.

Note to self: see, it won’t be so bad after all. In fact, it could be just as good as it used to be; if not, indeed, even better. 

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