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The DadBall Era: Birthdays Of The Doomed

When is the worst (and best!) time of the year for a birthday? Our resident dad investigates.

There are good times of the year for a birthday and there are not-as-good times. A few lucky time frames are exceptionally suited for such things, but most are all relatively similar for revelry.

Then there is the single worst stretch imaginable for a birthday, which is at this very moment, here in the midst of this barren hellscape we’re in now—where everyone is exhausted and strung out and curled up in an 80-proof emotional ball of regret and introspection. There is usually a constant freezing rain outside as well. The opening salvo of war is not typically in the cards, but it’s never entirely unexpected, either.

January 2 through, say, January 18 is the rundown North Las Vegas motel of the calendar year. It’s the sad, seedy existence we all find ourselves in when the party is over and the bill has come due—when we’re out of money, options, and fully functioning internal organs. There is no room service here. No frills. No color, but no questions either. It’s an off-the-grid, cash-only detox hub where we lick our wounds and get right with God and/or our cholesterol levels.

Instincts tell us to keep our heads down and speak to nobody during this rotten stretch, nothing good can come of it—this is no time for idle chitchat. It is time to regroup. Repent. Batten down the social hatches. Re-establish a routine. Vacuum. Get some goddamn exercise. Write down all the ways we’ll do things differently next year to avoid this lowly state. (“73. I will not eat two entire spiral-cut hams on NYE, or any other night.”) Celebrate nothing, be wary of everything. Survive and advance. Get to February and reassess.

It is a dreadful few weeks for sure, suited only for isolation and sobriety and not spending money. That is the way it has always been.

My birthday was just days ago, on January 7. There is not one redeeming quality about that day, at any age. Not a one. As kids, we were pissed off and groggy and grumpy as we trudged our way back into school after a glorious three-week break. As adults, we are even more pissed off and groggy and grumpy as we trudge our way back into the grind after the gross debauchery of December, except now we all have the DTs and nobody is exactly sure what day of the week it is. All we know is that whatever day it is, it is grim.

This is certainly no time for a birthday celebration. Those of us cursed enough to be born in this joyless salt-flat motel have known this all along. We are the Birthday Bastards, so to speak; we accepted our fate long ago. We are at peace with it.

The question, though, is this: when is the best time of the year for a birthday? The best across the board, I mean, from age 6 to 106—stretches of the Indianapolis calendar that are polar opposites of right now, when friends and family and the Red Garter are just itching to celebrate something.

The DadBall Era’s Birthdays Of The Blessed:

4. November 22–30: Right around Thanksgiving, before the Christmas madness sets in, when strapping on a feedbag full of mashed potatoes and Ketel One is not only not frowned upon in decent society, but encouraged.

3. June 1–12: If school’s not out yet, it’s about to be. There is widespread jubilation. It is statistically our best chance for San Diego–like weather. This city is downright giddy around then, sporting our post-500 glow/hangover proudly, like portraits of our infant children. It is a glorious time indeed.

2. March 15–26: Spring has sprung, kind of—at least enough to melt the ugly mounds of crusty black snow in every parking lot and also the icy hate in our hearts. It’s not the best weather around, but it’s not f—ing February either, and that is good enough for us. A few years ago, we hit the jackpot with a Thursday St. Patrick’s Day/opening day of the NCAA Tournament/60-degree sunshine trifecta. It was a spiritual experience. Like 29 people total in this city went to work that day.

1. Cinco de Mayo: This is my son’s birthday, and I’m insanely, impossibly jealous. For the rest of his life on this blessed day, the whole goddamn continent will already be a well-organized, high-spirited, warm-weather patio party just waiting for him show up so they can shower him with gifts and tequila bongs. It is the exact opposite of everything I know birthdays to be.

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