Of Birthday Parties

I remember when my sisters and I were young that we always had family birthday parties. There are photos of people playing drop the hanky in the backyard of the house and it was always filled with the laughter of cousins, aunties, uncles, and grandparents.

I don’t remember much about the presents I got for my birthday with a couple of exceptions. When I turned 10 I was given a brand new fujicycle three speed bike. It was bright orange and Dad took great delight in telling me how light it was. I was very proud of that bike although I was a bit concerned about the handlebars which were a little too girly for my liking. Nonetheless, I spent many hours riding it around the neighbourhood.

For my 13th Birthday I was given a train set which I actually thought I was a little bit old for. I think it was around that time that I was very conscious of not wanting a lot of friends around and although Mum and Dad said I could have a party I didn’t really want one. My mates were starting to become interested in girls and if I had one I would have had to invite some to mine and there was a threefold embarrassment involved in that. Firstly, I didn’t really want anyone to know I’d been given a train set. Secondly, I was worried Dad would be drunk and embarrass me, and finally, it seemed I only had to mention a girls name at home and I would be incessantly teased by Mum and my sister about having a girlfriend. Far better to shut up and not let anyone know I may have had a crush on someone.

Funny, in remembering all this stuff, I see many elements of the man reflected in the boy. The loner, the one who kept his feelings to himself, the one who failed to confront issues, instead turning inward.

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