Do you have any friends with bizarre quirks that simply defy explanation? Or, if the quirks do have some kind of rationalization, they’re still a bit weird? And though I know I certainly possess many a quirk myself, I always find the mystery behind other people’s quirks to be infinitely more fascinating.
For instance, on my birthday last week, a group of my friends got together for dinner in NYC to help me celebrate. As I was the Birthday Boy, I had nothing to do with the arrangements, although I did find out some rather interesting information from the person who did. First of all, when he told one couple about the dinner, they were very excited to come. Until they heard it would be a birthday celebration. Then they immediately tried to back out of it. And when my friend asked why, the answer given was simply that “we don’t celebrate other people’s birthdays.” And when my friend assured him that it was just a friendly gathering and it wasn’t necessary to bring a card or a present, the person got very defensive and said that his partner would be very upset if they had to attend.
Needless to say, my friend didn’t pursue the matter any further, although it definitely intrigued both of us as to how such a stance against birthday celebrations came about. As the “partner” in question is of Eastern European origin, I wondered if perhaps they didn’t celebrate birthdays over there. Or maybe he’d had a particularly bad experience on someone’s birthday, and therefore was afraid to relive the experience again at someone else’s event. Or possibly it has something to do with not wanting to face mortality, and so the celebration of another year (no matter whose it is) only serves as a constant reminder of the passing of time.
Whatever the reason, two days later, the friend called back to tell me the couple was coming to the dinner after all. When I asked what changed their mind, my friend said that they would come, but would not observe any of the birthday rituals, nor would they be obliged at any time to wish me a Happy Birthday. In fact, they requested that, if at all possible, the subject of my birthday never came up in conversation.
You can imagine how shocked I was by this request, as well as by my friend’s admission that he agreed to the terms.
“They really wanted to come,” he protested. “And I didn’t think it would be a big deal. Everyone can just wish you a Happy Birthday in private.”
Not wanting to seem petty, I quickly decided that it really didn’t matter, as long as I was having dinner with good friends. (Even good friends with a birthday quirk.)
So when the big evening finally came, I tried not to have any kind of expectations for the event. I even arrived early so I could greet my other friends before the “Anti-Birthday Couple” got there. And though the other friends had all been debriefed about the whole birthday business, it was inevitable that the topic would slip out every now and then throughout the course of the evening. It almost became sort of a game to see who could get the closest to mentioning the word birthday without actually saying it. And since the “Anti-Birthday” couple was not aware that everyone knew about their particular “quirk,” a lot of the childish teasing went right over their heads.
Crazy Quirks of Acquaintances
However, the whole evening made me very uncomfortable, as if I needed to apologize for even having a birthday at all. And I was so afraid that someone was going to say something inappropriate that I didn’t even have an appetite to eat. What if the “Anti-Birthday Couple” suddenly freaked out and went into a rampage, venting their anti-birthday sentiment by throwing plates and cutlery at everyone in sight? I would be forever blamed as the “birthday that broke the camel’s back.”
Truth to tell, as I got older, birthdays become less and less important to me. Sure, it’s nice to celebrate the day you were born, but right now, every day seems like a celebration to me. With so much turmoil going on in the world, I am just happy when I get to spend a day doing the things I like to do. (Many of which are probably just as quirky as an anti-birthday stance.) So I won’t judge my “anti-birthday” friends, because I know that the most important thing is our friendship, warts and all. But someday I sure would like to know what happened to cause such negativity about such a commonplace celebration. For now, the explanation still remains a mystery.
But that’s just me. Do you have any friends who have weird quirks you don’t understand?