Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: birthday (05/23/05)
TITLE: Forty Going on Fourteen
By Mary Elder-Criss
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Stopping dead in my tracks, I stare in shock at the roomful of friends, relatives and acquaintances, all wearing stupid grins, and even stupider party hats. Noisemakers are all blown enthusiastically, as someone strikes up the inevitable, detested song.
I clench my teeth in what is actually a grimace, and pray it passes for a smile, as I attempt to endure the off-key singing without wincing in pain.
“Happy Birthday to Youuuuuuu, Happy Birthday to Youuuuuuu, Happy Birthday, Dear Mary, Happy Birthday to Youuuuuuuuuuuuu!”
Surrounded by insanely happy well-wishers, all patting me on the back, I shoot a questioning glance in my husband’s direction over their heads. The sheepish look on his face condemns him as the guilty party who will pay for this later. Oh, and how he will pay!
Birthdays. I remember when they were an event that was anticipated eagerly for months. Of course, that was back before gravity took its toll, and one still bought bikini underwear. Birthdays were celebrated when you were young, and crows hadn’t decided to make the skin around your eyes their permanent nesting place. Birthdays were celebrated when old was thirty.
Now thirty is young, and fifty-something is old. When I’m fifty, old age will be sixty-something. I decided a few years ago just to make it easy on myself, and devised the formula that described old age as always being fifteen years older than what I currently am.
As the party, complete with black balloons and a RIP cake, stretched endlessly on, I began to grow increasingly depressed. Just who was this party for, anyway, I wondered? If this was planned to make me feel good, it was sadly missing the mark.
One more over-the-hill joke, and I was going to cause someone serious bodily harm. They’d find out firsthand that I wasn’t quite dead yet when I whacked them over the head with the nearest party favor. Eyeballing the papier-mâché tombstone someone had cleverly designed, I wondered how hefty it really was.
My imaginary bubble of sweet vengeance burst abruptly when everyone began tapping on their water glasses.
I stood, rather reluctantly, to my feet, wondering what I was going to say.
“I’d just like to thank all of you for coming here tonight and making me feel even worse about turning forty years old…….?”
“Wow. What a wonderful evening. It’s not every day a girl gets to look at a tombstone with her own name written on it……..?”
“Gee, thanks everyone. I really appreciate all the loving insults you have hurtled my way tonight. The fake dentures in my water glass were really a nice touch……….?”
I smartly decided that none of those would be accepted nearly as gracefully as I had endured them initially tonight. It was then that genius (primarily known as God) struck.
“I’d like to thank all of you for coming tonight, and for helping me celebrate my birthday. However, I just have to tell you, you have the number of years wrong……”
Pausing, I allowed them a moment to shout their comments…
“Aw, come on, no use denying it, we all know you’re 40!”
“Face up to it, you’re over the hill, and on the downward roll…..”
“Hey Mary, what was it like when dinosaurs roamed the earth?”
Smiling, I simply shook my head.
“Nope, you’re all wrong. I am not turning forty at all this year, but the tender age of fourteen!”
“Fourteen? Who do you think you’re kidding!”
“Awwwwwwww, good one!”
Amidst the loud guffaws and incredulous remarks, I brought the microphone closer to my mouth.
“Yes, fourteen. It was fourteen years ago that I gave my life to Jesus, and was born again. So you see, I’m not over the hill after all, I’ve just begun to climb.”
“How’s that for an epitaph for my tombstone?”
As laughter and cheers filled the hall, I smiled sweetly in my husband’s direction. Let him think he was off the hook. His birthday was just five short months away, after all. I could wait.
Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creation, old things have passed away, behold all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV
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