Wednesday, June 09, 2010

You Say It's Your Birthday

My forty-first birthday happened recently.

It scarcely seems possible that I could be older, when I've only been drunk about six times since I came here last August and have neither been beaten nor vomitted nor crapped in the bushes.

I spent my birthday alone; rode down the embankment to the beach and took up residence under one of the thatched umbrellas planted there for the families. Nobody much goes to the beach during the day, so I had it mostly to myself. I read and listened to podcasts on my Ipod Touch, and swam in the Gulf with my mask and snorkel. Then I went to the nearby Subway and had a 12-inch tuna on honey oat with all the vegetables. After that I came home and watched a movie and talked to some Russian girls on Skype.

This is how I usually spend my days off. As for my birthdays, I've spent them all kinds of different ways, and find I don't think of one much more highly than another. I've spent them surrounded by friends and I've spent them alone, but holiday celebrations, and to me particularly birthdays, always have an element of anti-climax or expectations too high to be realisticly fulfilled.

Can't even remember what I did on my 21st birthday. I was living in New Orleans at that time so drinking in bars wasn't a big deal. I seem to remember I spent the whole day taking LSD and doing nitrous oxide shots, after an argument with my 17-year-old girlfriend. (I think that qualified as barely legal in Louisiana at that time. The girl, now the LSD, I mean.) Seems like my 22nd was spent in some equally misanthropic 90's grunge-era sort of way.

Then I had the bright idea of trying to drink for a number of hours equal to my age on my 23rd birthday, on Santorini, in Greece, during my first backpacking trip. But it was random and slow-paced and rather innocent sort of debauchery, with relatively wholesome backpacker type friends. It seems a bit twee, in retrospect, and not nearly as potentially lethal as drinking shots of liquor equal to your age.

I can remember two I didn't much like -- 24th and 29th. On those occasions (New Orleans and New York, respectively) I was in the middle of depressions about breakups (yes, I did and do occasionally get depressed about breakups) and well-meaning friends tried to have parties for me to cheer me up. (Always a bad plan with me -- better to commiserate.)

I spent my 25th alone -- I think I was in Greece, again, by accident rather than choice, on my second big backpacking expedition. The 26th was memorable -- that was the first time I ever had sex with a prostitute, in Bangkok, shortly after I got my first English teaching job.

I remember I spent my 27th birthday in Fukuoka, Japan, on a visa run for my job in Seoul, Korea, and spent much of the evening jerking off to abusive Japanese porn in my "capsule hotel" cubicle. (That was before affordable laptops, so porn was a rare pleasure for me.)

For my 28th birthday I had just returned to America from Asia -- I tracked down English Teacher Q and we went out to a strip club. He eventually brought the evening to a premature if not terribly surprising end by knocking himself unconscious with painkillers and alcohol.

My 30th birthday was in Phuket, Thailand, where I'd just gotten a job at a school mostly teaching children -- I paid for one hooker out of a go-go bar, and then afterwards went to another bar to get a beer and another very cute hooker invited me home with her, saying she disliked sleeping alone. Totally without pay, that one. Nice way to celebrate the 30th, I thought.

All of my Russian birthdays -- between 31 and 40 -- blur into one, and run into all the hundreds of other parties we had, but I didn't spend any alone. On my 38th we rented a little cabin on an island in the Volga, and had a barbecue.

It was always difficult to carry out things like that, because it was always the same: half the people who were invited would cancel at the last minute, and half the people who had said they wouldn't come would call at the last minute and ask if they could come.

That time, though, the right people showed up and it was one of the rare occasions where everything went pretty smoothly. Later that summer and fall, there were conflicts, drama, intrigue and heartbreaks with two of the girls involved, but that day -- everything went smoothly.

I neither got beaten nor vomitted, and I didn't crap in the bushes.


Anonymous said...

Happy 41st, X.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I remember that one. Rather tame, but nice.

I don't remember if it was your birthday, but I really enjoyed the party where the girls beat up english teacher A, then you wanted to give A a beating as well. It just ended up a day later with us dining on roasted chicken, most of it landing on the floor. Kusna, kusna X? -Batman from PDX

stevie austin said...

happy bday X

english student x said...

Happy birthday!

Anonymous said...

Happy B-Day. It must be kind of quiet in the middle east if you keep bringing back stories of Russia... And please tell me you made it with that girl in the bikini. Man!