There is a very reasonable possibility – one in 52, as it happens – that you have a birthday this week. And if you’re beyond a certain number of years you are probably dreading it more than anticipating it.
And sure, you might call for birthdays to be outlawed altogether so that you can better ignore your ceaseless march to the grave.
Fortunately US comedian, actor and genius Patton Oswalt solved this question for us back in 2007, when he released his album Werewolves and Lollipops.
It is on track 6: “You Are Allowed 20 Birthday Parties”, and it is the most clearheaded solution to the issue of what birthdays are worth acknowledging.
“There are about 20 birthdays that you should celebrate,” he argues. “The rest of them, you’re wasting cake and paper.”
Here’s his argument in a nutshell:
From one to nine, you get obviously get a birthday. It’s a big deal when you’re a kid. Actually, let’s be honest: birthday one, that’s for the parents. But two onwards, it’s important. No argument.
Ten, you get a birthday: you’ve hit a milestone! Double digits! Tens are always birthdays.
Eleven and twelve: no birthday. “I’m twelve!” “Great, go to school.”
Thirteen: you get a birthday. You’re a teenager! Something’s changed! Then no birthday until 16, because you can drive. This one seems arbitrary, to be honest.
Eighteen, you get a birthday because the big legal changes. Nineteen, you get a birthday for your last year as a teenager. Twenty, you get a birthday (see ten). Twenty one, you get an birthday (Oswalt is American so 21 isn’t just a cultural thing as it is in Australia).
And then NOTHING. Until you’re thirty, that is. “I’m twenty six!” “Great, go to work.”
And sure, he’s specifically talking about parties rather than birthdays themselves, but I say we apply it that way. Not least because then I’d be 28 instead of… um, more than that.
It should be added, lest this seems somewhat grim, that Patton offers a back-end bonus incentive for everyone that reaches 90: that from that point, and every year thereafter, one law no longer applies to you.
Ninety year olds can litter. Ninety five, you can legally steal “anything you can pick up with your bare hands and get into your house. And if you own something and a ninety-five year old can get it away from you, it really didn’t belong to you, did it?”
At one hundred, “you can legally commit murder. You cannot shoot them, stab them or poison them, but anyone you can strangle or pummel to death with your bare hands, no jury can convict you. And let’s be honest: would any of you get up and run outside if you heard ‘help me, a one hundred year old woman is punching me to death!’?”
Look, he makes a strong case.
In other good ideas from Patton Oswalt, here’s his one unbroken improvised filibuster from Parks and Recreation, calling for a Star Wars/Marvel Cinematic Universe crossover.
Dude has good ideas, is what we’re saying.