Friday, November 14, 2008

Crazy Quirks of Kooky Acquaintances

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?


jakill said...

Glad you enjoyed the birthday anyway.

People are funny, they do say. I have a pal who rarely lets anyone into his flat. It's his bolthole and he doesn't want it contaminated. I'm one of the priveleged few who has stepped over the threshold, just once.

Hope you don't mind but I've tagged you. Check it out on my blog.

Jenn Thorson said...

Well, geez-- It's a bit like going to an ice hockey game but insisting the temperature be turned up to a balmy 80 because you personally can't stand the cold. It's fairly inconsiderate, really, to expect a festivity not for you to be planned around your quirks.

(I mean "you" second person, not YOU you. I mean, as, erm, Unbirthday Boy, I can see your bewilderment.)

This was a totally new one on me.

Roxiticus Desperate Housewives said...

I have no problem wishing you a happy birthday again and again and again! We have friend in NYC who have a nanny who refuses to take their children to birthday parties, says it is against her religious beliefs...

My own example of friends with weird quirks is a couple who lies to their kids about their ages...since they had twins when the wife was 47ish and the husband 54ish, they tell their kids that they are 10 years younger. As challenging for me as the birthday party was for you, since I didn't know about the deception until after I had told my own kids how old the parents in question really were.

Here's to weird the rest of us something to write about!


Lidian said...

Well, the really interesting bit to me is why they wanted to come, after all that - I sense a short story in there somewhere, maybe. Possibly.

Happy birthday, by the way. I'm a Scorpio, too, which always pleases me a great deal for some reason!

Grumpus said...

Did you ever find out what their dealio was? I hate to say it, but I would have loved to rain on their parade by standing up to serenade them with a rousing chorus of "Happy Birthday to Me." It's fine to have quirks, but not to try and spoil everyone's fun with them. When I have deeply felt feelings about seemingly-innocuous stuff, I stay home!

Roxy's Best Of... said...

A while back you stopped by Roxy's Best Of... New Jersey and commented on my post about High School Musical On Stage at Paper Mill Playhouse. Well, I'm too sleepy tonight to post London and Maddie’s review of this afternoon’s performance, but the girls, Rex and I, along with the rest of London’s Brownie troop, really enjoyed ourselves. I’ve already seen an extremely negative review from Peter Filichia at the Star-Ledger, but he clearly hated Disney’s High School Musical concept from the git-go. I know you’re a big Disney fan, but don’t know if you’ve seen the Disney Channel movie(s)…in a nutshell, think modern-day Grease with a G rating.

desperateblogger said...

belated happy birthday. i think the quirky couple's religious belief has something to do against them celebrating birthdays. Just to get one over them I would have been crazy enough to apologize for "having a birthday". it was your birthday for crying out loud.

Henson Ray said...

jakill--I agree...people have some interesting quirks...but finding out "why" they have them is what interests me. Thanks for the tag...I will try to get to it at some point in the future...(As Roxy can attest, sometimes I do these and sometimes I don't...or sometimes I weave them into something entirely different. So we'll see.) thanks for the comments.

jenn--Exactly like a hocky game. In fact, it almost feels a bit like they're saying "Puck U" by refusing to acknowledge your b-day.

Roxy--Aren't you sweet? (I mean, seriously, aren't you? Heh, heh) The age lie will ALWAYS catch up with you. I had a friend who found out her husband was actually seven years older than she thought on her wedding day. And the only reason she did was because her mother happened to be talking to the groom's mother and it sort of slipped out. Talk about a shocker!!!

lidian--I know what you mean about being a Scorpio. I feel the same way.

grumpus--I have not yet found out why they don't celebrate birthdays. But believe me, when I do, I will certainly post all about it.

roxy--regarding HSM...glad you enjoyed it...I remember seeing the original a few years ago quite by accident...and though I kept planning to change the channel, I found myself really enjoying it. Like an old fashioned musical with a modern beat. I actually met Mr. Filichia many years ago. He was a judge at a play festival I was in. How was Bailey, the girl who won the role in Legally Blonde?

desperateblogger--I would agree with you on the religious belief theory, except neither of them are particularly religious. And they have not always had this attitude, because several years ago I remember them being at another person's birthday event. So maybe it's just me!!!!

Roxiticus Desperate Housewives said...

Speaking of quirks, I know you don't have any because of the last "homework assignment" you posted for me. I have a new one for you if you'd like to participate, it's easy as A,B,C!