By the time you read this, I’ll be dead.
Or not, I’m not sure. I may well still be alive.
But I also may die, and I feel like it’ll be easier for all of us if we proceed as though I were definitely going to, with the option to apologize later should I wind up surviving.
Therefore, before I die, I want to apologize to everyone my passing might hurt. Hurting you was never my intent.
I also want to make it perfectly clear, this is not a suicide note. I like my life just fine, everything is going fairly well right now, and overall I’m generally satisfied with my place in the world. Suicide’s the furthest thing from my mind, and I wish I could say I had many good years ahead of me...
However, we don’t get to choose when we go, it’s chosen for us. And when the time comes we’re all helpless in the face of our own mortality. Everyone learns this in their own time, and mine was chosen for me thirty-five years ago.
Thirty-five years ago this coming Sunday.
The day that I was born.
I was born on Saint Patrick’s Day, you see, and as such the whole world celebrates my birthday. Well, not the whole world, in fact a very slim portion of the world, the Irish, Catholics and drunken, rowdy douche-bags who pretend to be either Irish or Catholic to use the holiday as an excuse to drink, but from my perspective, while it’s happening, it seems like the whole world. Everyone I meet congratulates me on the auspicious date of my birth, everyone wants to take me out for a pint, and nobody will take no for an answer.
“It’s one pint,” they say, “it’s not a big deal. What could it hurt?”
And they’re right. One pint isn’t a big deal. And it couldn’t hurt.
But it never winds up being just one.
Because I have more than one friend, you see, and when I’m invited for a quick birthday drink, EVERYBODY joins me. They want to go to a bar anyway, it being Saint Patrick’s Day and all, and my birthday provides even more of an excuse. And once the drinks are flowing every faux-Irish frat-tard in the place will overhear and suddenly strangers are buying me drinks in the same generous spirit I’ve come to know and love from my friends.
Drinks. It’s the reason for the season after all.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: What on earth am I whining about? That sounds awesome! And you’re quite right, it is. Or rather, it was. Because the other thing that happens on my birthday is; I grow older. And perhaps that’s obvious past the point of needing to be said, but look at the implications.
Endless free drinks until such time as even my heroic commitment to birthday drinking can no longer sustain me for one moment longer is a wonderful thing for a man in his early twenties, but that was a decade ago and, as I get older, what once was a tremendous boon to me becomes more and more of an endurance test. A test that, one year, I won’t be able to endure.
I wake up March 18th feeling like I’m going to die, wishing I could die. Body aching, head screaming in pain, still half in the bag from the night before, and acutely aware that my body, my liver but really my whole body, can’t take the sort of punishment I put it through nearly as well as once it could.
On March 18th, every year, like clockwork, I’m forced into an uncomfortable awareness of my own human frailty as my body is pushed a little closer to its ultimate failure by an endless, terrifying procession of free birthday drinks.
Could I turn these drinks down? In theory I could, but I sure don’t. Not to play to stereotypes, but I’m an actor, a comedian, a waiter and a novelist, and as such I’m incapable of turning down a free drink under any circumstance. So they will be offered, I will accept them, and my already badly broken body will strain further.
Perhaps that final collapse won’t come this year, but some year it will.
And it’ll definitely come on my birthday.
If I see you sometime after Sunday, then I’ve survived. Perhaps by the skin of my teeth, perhaps in a state requiring a week-long hangover to recover, but I’ve survived and that’s what counts, and I’ll be glad of it.
But if I don’t, I’m leaving this note on my blog, to say goodbye, and to let you know: In spite of my sense of impending dread at how I’ll spend my birthday yet again, I regret nothing.
I’ve had some wild parties.
Wild, wild parties.
This year’s will be no different…