“You’re going to be thirty-five?” – Vanir’s wife Sarah, upon hearing the tragic news.

In a couple of days, the Earth will complete thirty-five rotations around the Sun since I was unleashed upon this world. Being born in mid-October, it’s always neat to have all the trees in full color around my birthday. I guess I can either look at it as capping off a great summer, or have it bittersweet as the cold and snow and ice prepares to crap frostily on my head for 5 months. You know what I want for my birthday every year? No #*&$^# WINTER.

When I was little, I’d count down the days until my birthday for a whole month. I was a greedy little fellow, and I wanted PRESENTS. Star Wars toys were usually a central pillar of the bounty both at birthdays and Christmas, and I had a habit of giving my stuff names. I have a Tauntaun named “Bryan” and a Wampa named.. well… “Wampy”. As the years passed, the action figures changed but the goal remained the same, and I accumulated lots of He-Man and Thundercats and Real Ghostbusters and even some totally sweet AD&D figures (which I deeply regret getting rid of now). In 6th grade, my great grandma got me a Nintendo Entertainment System, and my focus pretty much shifted to the acquisition of as many Game Paks as I possibly could.

Around college, a funny thing happened. My birthday would sneak up on me, and I wouldn’t have any idea what I wanted. In retrospect, it’s easy to see why. I started getting disposable income, so I was buying all the stuff I wanted when it came out, instead of locking all my wee capitalistic fury away until OH MY GOD I CAN FINALLY PLAY SUPER MARIO BROS. 2. Well, actually, in college it wasn’t so much “disposable income” as it was “a massive credit card balance I would pay off ten years later”, but it’s the same idea. I already had almost everything I wanted, and the stuff I didn’t have was either too expensive or too complicated to make a good present from non-techie relatives. My birthday just sort of became that time of year to get family together, eat cake, and to open a whole bunch of envelopes with money in them.

At my son’s first birthday party, it occurred to me exactly what I was doing a year ago on that day (namely, watching him come out and not sleeping for 6 months), and suddenly the “birth” part of “birthday” took on a lot more meaning for me. I can only begin to imagine how my parents must have felt, watching their present-crazed little boy running around screaming year after year, a birthday hat clinging to dear life by its uncomfortable rubber chinstrap. At the very least, it has restored a little of the magic for me, albeit in a dramatically different way.

I didn’t feel old at 20. I felt awesome. I didn’t even feel that old at 30. This birthday, it’s starting to hit me, but more because I’m noticing how old other people are relative to me. I have a brother and friends who are over 40. I have friends who are in their mid twenties that weren’t alive when I was in 5th grade. I’m used to seeing my dad and my teachers and other, well, adults as being in their 40s. What the hell, time? Who authorized this crap?

It’s especially bad when I see, for instance, some teenager walking around ironically wearing a Centipede t-shirt. Listen, you little punk. In my day, we were making corridors of mushrooms to guide the centipedes driven mad by the scorpion’s poisoned mushroom straight into my oncoming line of laser death, maximizing my score by hitting only 100 point heads so go buy a Justin Bieber shirt or something. Oh great, I just told some kid to get off my digital lawn.

It’s not so bad, though. I have to admit, I still don’t feel old. Sure, my body doesn’t quite work the same (and I’m told it just goes downhill from here), but I haven’t let life beat all the kid out of me just yet. I’m looking forward to my son getting old enough to play some more complex stuff with me. I want to keep imagining and creating and getting weird looks from coworkers. I want to be running a daily D&D game when I’m in a nursing home. Give me another 35 years, and we’ll see how that turns out.

Photo Credit: ME! From my 31st birthday fleet of Galacticakes.


  1. Hey! Are those Colonial Viper and Cylon Raider cupcakes??!! Oh! I see the photo credit now. Frakkin’ Sweet!!

    Happy Birthday. If you still regret getting rid of the AD&D figures, eBay is your friend. Mint-on-Card will cost you, but loose figures, especially if you find a lot, or mixed into a lot of other figures, aren’t very expensive.

  2. Dixon Trimline says:

    Hoo nelly, do I ever hear what you’re saying. I’m turning 101010 this year in December, and I definitely want to file a complaint with someone. There was a time when 30 seemed impossibly old, and then 35, and then 40. Now I’m staring at Life, the Universe, and Everything, and I have to accept that time ain’t stopping!

    Good news: it only gets better from here. Seriously. Having gotten the opportunity to play the games that I love so much with my own son (now 18!), I realize I don’t want to stop time or miss anything that’s happening right now.

    Happy Birthday! And here’s hoping you get exactly what you want.

  3. Happy Birthday! (but if you are old, then I am ancient since I have you by 5 years!)

  4. You start to feel old at 40. That’s when both my wife and I started needing glasses, and feeling decrepit.

  5. Getting owned by 12 year olds in video games… *sigh*

  6. I’m 28 now. When I was a kid, I used to want toys, gaming books (yes, I started young!) and video games for birthdays. I used to be really upset if my parents got me something lame like clothes or shoes. Now it’s the other way round – I can buy the books and games I want myself, and I love it when I get clothes for my birthday, because it means I don’t have to go through the agony of shopping for them myself!

  7. maddogtime says:

    Happy Cakeday, old timer.

    Actually, I should’nt be talking since I am up on you by +1 on the Decrepitude Advancement Table… -sigh-

    Married, two kids who are both, sadly, too young to participate in D&D etc any further than my daughter asking “is dat a dwagon?” when she looks at her old man’s roleplaying stuff. Although she does dig fairies quite a bit so I guess an elf character isn’t far off – but how can I make tabletop RPG as exciting as when her awesome mom takes her Dragonquestin’ on the DS? -Siiiigh, the second-

    I feel your pain. As for the digital lawn, if I catch one more snotty brat with an Atari shirt…WE wrecked the paddles for the darn Pong clones first – dangit! Aherm…

    Anybody have some ointment for a sore back?

  8. Uh-oh. You just turned 35?

    For the past several months, I thought I was 36 turning 37. I realized two weeks ago that I was actually 35, right before my birthday.

    Sticky notes might help you in the next year – I’m just sayin.’

  9. Happy birthday old man! Now, does a 25 year old wearing that Centipede shirt count as being on your digital lawn? :p

  10. Penny Arcade is making fun of old people;

  11. Happy Birthday, Direflail.


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