I’ve never been able to keep birthdays straight — not even my own. For years I thought I knew how old I was, but one morning, after criticizing an athlete (whom I knew to be my own age) for claiming he was two years younger than he was, my wife calmly asked me how old I was. I said, “46.” To which she said, “No you’re not. You’re 44.” I gained two years on my life that morning, and realized I had been off for a good four years or so. Not many are greeted like that.
Well, this neglect of my own age extends to forgetting birthdays. I recently called my father to wish him happy birthday, only to discover I was a few days early. Still, I was at least close. This last Sunday I told a story in a sermon about my son and said he was 27, only to be told later by Kris that Luke was 25 and Laura was 28, and that I was mistaken once again on birthdays and ages.
My own policy is quite simple: since my birthday is late in the year, when people ask me my age I subtract my birth year from the current year. Which means, throughout the year I am usually saying I am one year older than I really am. I can’t for the life of me see why it really matters. Plus, subtracting and then adding one for most of the year clogs the brain with useless information and procedures.
What does matter, though, is that you shouldn’t forget your spouse’s birthday or your anniversary. For the anniversary, I have an easy method: every book I get I stamp the book on the 21 and 22 second page — that way I can remember the day we got married. Which is either the 21st or the 22d. Close enough, I say to myself.
Kris’ birthday comes in June, and I worry about missing the day and have on occasions, but I’m getting better by worrying more each year. What helps me the most is that the kids usually start asking questions or making suggestions.
We’re told never to ask a woman her age, but you can ask me mine anytime you want. 52. What you can’t ask is how much another person weighs, nor even what I weigh — but my doctor tells me the numbers are moving slowly in the right direction. I forget which way (or was that weigh?).