Oh, I Like That

How Much Should Adults Care About Their Birthdays? An Investigation

Episode Summary

Pull up a candle-bedecked cake and a bouquet of balloons, because we’re talking about birthdays.

Episode Notes

Recent polling reveals that about 41% of people care a medium amount about their birthdays. So where does this leave the 23% of people who are indifferent to their birthdays? And the 23% of people who care a huge amount about their birthdays? We get into all of it in this episode. We discuss our own feelings about birthdays and posit some theories about why birthdays can be such a polarizing subject, and get into the often-divisive topic of the “birthday adult.”

Also, check out two previous episodes where we touched on some birthday- and birthday celebration-related topics: Great Gifts and How to Give Them (Episode 5) and Staying In and Getting Through It (Episode 4).

This episode was produced by Rachel and Sally and edited by Lucas Nguyen. Our logo was designed by Amber Seger (@rocketorca). Our theme music is by Tiny Music. MJ Brodie transcribed this episode. Follow us on Twitter @OhILikeThatPod.

Things we talked about

Episode Transcription

Rachel: Welcome to Oh I Like That, a podcast about things we like and occasionally things we don't. I'm Rachel Wilkerson Miller.

Sally: And I'm Sally Tamarkin.

Rachel: Good morning, Sally.

Sally: Hey, Rachel. Let's just get right into the vibe check, because we have some vibe things to say.

Rachel: We do have vibe things to say, and then we have a lot to cover in our main segment. So the vibe here is America, which is to say more mass shootings this week and a ton of anti-trans legislation being enacted across the country. So I'm feeling a little morose, a little... I don't want to say hopeless, but it's just a reminder of how much work there is to be done. How far we have to go. And yeah, it's just been a rough one. We've had many of these weeks since we started recording the podcast and I feel like this is another one where it's like, we're opening the show talking about some horrible thing that's happening and it's just really... it's really sad. I just feel bad all around. I feel bad for the people this happened to, and I don't want to say I'm in a bad mood, but the feeling is bad.

Sally: Yeah. I also feel bad. I recently ducked out of some group chats just because I was so bummed about the shootings and the white supremacy and the anti-trans stuff that I just couldn't... I just didn't want to... I needed to... I do the same thing when I take a break from Twitter. It's like I just don't want to even bear witness to people sharing information about what's happening. Not because anything about the way they're doing it is bad, but because I just, you know, have kind of reached a point where I just need a break. And I mean, I think one of the things that you and I talk about a lot is the lag between when we record and when an episode goes live for everyone to hear. And, you know, last week was a week where our tone was completely misaligned with, I mean, our tone when the episode went live was very misaligned with the tone, the vibe of the world at that moment. And also with our vibes personally at that moment. And so we keep trying to pilot different ways to sort of close the gap, but just because of various timing things and because there are several people involved with the production of the show -- shout out to Lucas, our editor and MJ, our transcriber who, I don't know if you know this, but if you ever want a transcript of an episode, you can totally get that. And we always have links in the show notes because we have a really rad person, MJ, who transcribes our episodes. So we basically kind of are blocked into this place of like recording about six days, usually five or six days before an episode is live. And so it's a challenge for us to, I think, figure out just how to start the show and how to like... I think it'd be really boring if we had an evergreen vibe check where we're just like, "Our vibe is fine. It's medium. Let's see." You know?

Rachel: Right.

Sally: So that's that. On a much less consequential note, it's feeling like spring here, which is to say in Philly, it's warm, but it's also muggy and raining. And it has me thinking that my entire personality has been shaped by living almost all of my life in the northeast, where Mother Nature giveth and she taketh away. And so I spend a lot of my life either feeling personally aggrieved or personally divinely gifted by the weather. And I don't know what kind of personality I would have if I grew up in a place where it was warm and sunny all the time.

Rachel: Yeah. I'm with you. We should probably just do a whole episode on the weather, which sounds boring, but to me, our episodes that sound boring are some of my favorites. But I feel similarly. It's also spring here, which is to say very grey, very muddy. It is not my favorite stretch of the year by any means, but you know, it's fine.

Sally: Yeah. We're here, we're getting through it.

Rachel: Yeah.

Sally: The weather here kind of matches, I think, some of the vibe stuff we were talking about, so.

Rachel: I think that's right.

Sally: It's always nice when that's a fit. Well, we do have a pretty fun and light main segment, which, it's a topic near and dear to both of our hearts. Rachel, tell the people what we're talking about.

Rachel: Today we are talking about birthdays and all of the feelings and expectations and fun things that go with them.

Sally: And as always, we have a grand unified theory about them and we have rules, but I think when you and I have rules, it's fun. We're fun moms.

Rachel: I'd like to think so.

Sally: Yeah. So, all right. I posted a poll on Twitter, it got 137 votes, which makes it officially totally generalizable to the entire population.

Rachel: Mm-hmm.

Sally: That's not true, but for the sake of this conversation, let's pretend it does. So the question was, how important is it to you that people in your life recognize/celebrate your birthday in some way? The options for answers were 'Hugely', 'Medium', 'I am indifferent', and 'Don't like it celebrated'. So the majority of respondents -- that's probably technically not what majority means. Most of the respondents said 'Medium'. So it's medium important to them that people in their life celebrate their birthday in some way. That was 40.9% of respondents. The next two highest, 'Hugely' and 'I am indifferent' were tied at 23.4%. And 12.4% said they don't like it celebrated. So Rachel, what are your thoughts about the poll? I mean, first of all, do you want to reveal how you voted or how you would have voted? And then I just also want to hear your general thoughts on this breakdown of responses.

Rachel: Yeah, I voted. I voted 'I am indifferent'. So I was equal with the hugely people, which sort of surprised me because most of the people I know, I think... I know a lot more hugely people than I know indifferent people. I actually don't feel like I know very many indifferent people, at least in my friend group. So I'm wondering if the hugely people were perhaps embarrassed to admit it, if they said medium because they felt like they should. But all the people I know who love their birthdays are not really embarrassed by that fact. So maybe this is totally accurate, but yeah, I'm indifferent. We can get into why. And also it's worth noting that part of the reason we're doing this episode is because your birthday is almost here.

Sally: Yeah, my birthday is in one week.

Rachel: Yep.

Sally: And it's going to be... we decided, you and I, that it could be my golden birthday because in the course of doing research for this episode, I discovered that there's such a thing, which is a golden birthday, which is when the age you're turning matches the date of your birth. And my golden birthday was when I was two, because I was born on April 2nd. And that didn't really seem fair to me because at two years old, I wasn't even aware of golden birthdays. And in fact it took until now, but you, Rachel had a really good idea. Tell it to the people.

Rachel: Yeah. I said, I feel like since your birthday is 4/2, you could have a do-over golden birthday when you're 42, which just so happens to be this birthday. Is it okay that I reveal your age on the air?

Sally: Yeah. I'd love for people to know that I'm 42.

Rachel: Great. So yeah, I think this can be your golden birthday if you want it to be.

Sally: Yeah. So I'm pretty excited. It's my golden birthday, which means I'm going to be even more of an obnoxious birthday adult about it than I would normally be about my birthday. I think it's interesting that you said that maybe people are embarrassed to say hugely, because a couple people actually were saying to me, "Man, I'm embarrassed, am I really going to admit this, I'm a hugely," but, and the other thing I want to say, just not related, but side note, you know a lot of hugelys, and I want a study to be done. You know a lot of Aries'.

Rachel: I do. That's why I know a lot of hugelys.

Sally: Yeah.

Rachel: The hugelys in my life are mostly Aries', if not all. I think with one or two exceptions. So I think those things are very related and I think all the Aries' I know would totally admit to that and own that Aries' are birthday people.

Sally: Yeah. I think it's just kind of a fact, and I don't know, Co-Star needs to put that in their app, that that's just a reality. Also, Rachel, you are really good at celebrating other people's things, you really go above and beyond. And my therapist is always saying that when you have two people who have really opposite temperaments or sensibilities, or just ways of living their lives, it's no mistake when those two people come together. And I think it's really interesting that you're not a big birthday person for yourself, but you're really big on other people's birthdays and celebratory things. And so shout out to my therapist, because I think he's onto something.

Rachel: I think that's right. That's a really good bit of wisdom. I'm going to be thinking about that a lot, actually.

Sally: Okay. So let me just say one other thing about the poll results, which is that I guess it's no surprise that medium won, because I think if you asked anyone how they feel about anything and medium was an option, most people would choose it.

Rachel: Mm-hmm, I think that's right.

Sally: And my other takeaway about this is that, so I don't like to dance. I do not dance. And whenever I tell someone that they're like, "I'm going to be the person who gets you to dance." Partners have done that, friends, you know, they're like, "Oh, we're going to get you drunk and you're going to dance." No, it will never happen. I'm sorry, but I've had 42 years of not dancing. You're not going to be the person who gets me to dance. However, when people say that they're indifferent -- not when they don't like it celebrated, because I feel like a lot of people are like, this will harm me if you celebrate my birthday, please don't, or it's a part of my tradition to not -- but when people say they're indifferent, a part of me is like, I'm going to be the person that makes you, that brings you up to, if not hugely, to medium. And I know that that's not really fair and it's not really about me. And at the same time it is my life's goal.

Rachel: Yeah. So you are a huge birthday person. I am medium to indifferent, let's say. One of the things I wanted to ask you is do you like the specific date that your birthday falls on? Because I do think that that can have an effect on how much of a birthday person you are. So how do you feel about April 2nd as a birthdate?

Sally: That's a great question. Thank you for asking. I have mixed feelings. One feeling is that generally, I really like it because it's after the holidays, and so there's not a lot of other stuff going on. I feel like we're all just trying to get through to the next big thing. And so this is like the spring big thing to get through to, for me. I like that. The thing that growing up was a bummer about this birthdate was that it often fell during Passover, which meant having kosher for Passover birthday cake, which was just a real fucking bummer. So when I was a kid, I was not as into it. As an adult now, I do really like it. I like having a spring birthday, even though it can be... the weather... you're not assured. It's hard to plan because you're not assured of really good weather, really bad weather. I like that it's the day after April Fools' Day, because it makes me feel... I don't really like April Fools' Day actually.

Rachel: I hate April Fools' Day so much.

Sally: Because of the pranks, which, we're against pranks on this show.

Rachel: Super anti prank.

Sally: We're anti prank. However, there's something about April Fools' Day and the lightness and humor vibes of it that I relate to and I like, and so I like being after April Fools' Day. My last thing I will say about this -- you can already tell I'm a hugely person because I already have ten minutes of things to say about the date my birthday falls on -- in my family, I have three siblings, there are four of us. My birthday is the day after April Fools' Day, one of my brothers' birthdays is the day after Valentine's Day, and my two other brothers have the same birthday, even though they're three years apart or two years apart. And so I like that each one of us has kind of a fun little birthday factoid associated with their birthday.

Rachel: That's nice.

Sally: And yeah, I don't need to keep going on [laughs]. Rachel, how do you feel about the date your birthday falls on?

Rachel: I like it. My birthday is August 7th. I think I've talked about this, maybe when we talked about at home celebrations, but my birthday falls in the week that everybody takes their last vacation of the summer without fail. So I'm just used to, when I was a kid my mom would throw me a birthday party and two people would show up because everybody was on vacation. So that is in part why I'm not a big birthday person because I just am used to people not being around and kind of knowing it has nothing to do with me, it's just when people tend to travel and it's fine. But as far as the actual date goes, it's 8/7, I feel like it's a nice, solid number.

Sally: Mm, it's good.

Rachel: Yeah. So aside from the fact that no one's around, which doesn't really bother me. I think it's a pretty good date to have a birthday on. I like it.

Sally: The thing is, is that I feel like you were probably deprived growing up of getting cupcakes in the classroom on your birthday.

Rachel: I was, yeah. I had light feelings about it at the time and I think classrooms were kind of like, do whatever. I think sometimes my mom would bring cupcakes on my half birthday and it's not the same.

Sally: Aw, that's cute.

Rachel: It's nice, but it's not the same. So I just have this sort of 'I acknowledge this thing exists' attitude about my birthday, and I find that other people tend to be more excited about it than I am. They're asking me what I want to do and if I have anything planned and I'm just kind of like, not really. You know, if somebody wants to plan something, I will not stop them, I will go along with it, but I don't have any strong feelings for the most part about what I want to do. I think in general, I try to make it a nice day. So I will go to a museum or get my favorite thing for lunch, but I don't feel the need for it to be 24 hours of fun or a week of fun. I don't feel like I need to have scheduled events for it. I won't be disappointed if I don't do anything. I feel very neutral-positive about my birthday. I've come around, though, on letting other people do things for me for my birthday, because it means a lot to them to be able to do it, and that's fine with me. So I understand that my birthday feelings sometimes disappoint my loved ones, but I'm doing my best.

Sally: I think that is a very insightful observation about any of these things. Birthdays, I think weddings are similar. It's kind of about you, but it's also kind of about everyone else and whether they get to celebrate you in the way that they feel entitled to celebrate you. And there are definitely people who don't like to even be wished a happy birthday, they're like, please don't. People say "I hate my birthday, and I don't even want to be wished happy birthday." But I feel like your thing is more like, you're not going to fight it if people try to do stuff.

Rachel: No, I think the thing that I struggle with a bit is when people want me to be excited about it too. And I'm just like, I'm fine with it, but I'm not excited about it. I'm not thinking about it weeks or months in advance the way that I do like a big holiday that I really love. It's just how I am. I'm trying to, you know, I'm going along with it. I'm having the most fun that I can, but it's just not a thing that sparks joy in me in the way that it does for some other people.

Sally: I mean, that's kind of similar to the way people, when I say I don't dance or I don't really like to dance, people are like, oh, you must be a deeply sad person who's been deprived from something that can make you feel fulfilled. And it's like, eh, dancing, just doesn't do for me what it does for you. And it sounds like kind of a similar thing.

Rachel: I sort of feel like not caring about my birthday is one of those, I don't want to say it's an emotional advantage, but it's one of those things that keeps me from feeling disconnected from people or feeling let down by people or disappointed by people. So I'm like, I'm going to embrace that. I am fine with not being a birthday person because it allows me to not have to care about this thing. And I care about a lot of things and have strong feelings about a lot of things. So when I don't care about something, I'm sort of like, no, this is good for me. It's nice to not care about something and to get to be neutral on something. So I like to lean into those things, versus trying to cultivate caring about them. It's easier for me to not really care about this. It's just better for everyone.

Sally: Totally. I love that. I mean, do you want to talk about, I feel like we're kind of dancing around the elephant in the room here, which is birthday adults. So first of all, let's get a working definition of birthday adult. Because as I was thinking about this episode, I was thinking about how as much as I am a hugely person, I don't identify as a birthday adult, which I feel like comes with a connotation of expecting everyone else to be as excited about your birthday as you are.

Rachel: I think that's right.

Sally: So, I mean, I guess for me, that's my definition of birthday adult. So someone who is really excited about their birthday, but also requires that people in their life are as excited about it as they are. Does that sound right to you?

Rachel: I think that's right. And I think that, I would say that birthday adults tend to want their birthday to be more than one day. They are people who refer to a birthday week or a birthday month. They have very high expectations for their birthday that may stretch the limits of the definition of a birthday.

Sally: Yeah. The word day being in the word birthday after all. Yeah, someone who I know peripherally answered as a hugely in the poll and said the entire month has to be really special. I think they were being kind of jokey about it. How do you feel about birthday adults, Rachel? Should we indulge birthday adults, even if you're someone who doesn't like birthdays? Because some people think birthday adults are insufferable, other people are like, they walk among us, but whatever.

Rachel: Mm-hmm, right. I mean, I think that you can only cope with birthday adults when you like the people a lot. I think that's what it comes down to. So if somebody I didn't know very well or somebody I'm not particularly fond of was a birthday adult and was trying to rope me into it, let's say a coworker or something who was doing that, I would feel a lot more annoyed by that because it's like, well, we don't have that kind of relationship that I owe you this for your birthday. But the adults in my life who love their birthday -- I don't know if I would describe any of them as birthday adults, but they're definitely the hugely people -- it doesn't bother me as much because I like them and I care about them. And so this is a thing about them that I just have embraced. So I don't have a hard ruling on whether birthday adults should be, you know, banned.

Sally: [Laughs] Yeah. I think that the thing about birthday adults is, in the same way that I think that it's weird to have an opinion on birthday adults. Like, it's weird to have a strong opinion on birthday adults. I think it's also weird for birthday adults to not kind of understand the boundaries between them, their feelings about their birthday, and other people's feelings about their birthday. Both of those things feel sort of miscalibrated in some way. And I feel like the correct calibration is live and let live. And if you have a birthday adult in your life who wants more from you than you feel comfortable giving, that's a boundary that you have to draw with them.

Rachel: Yeah. I think that one thing that jumps out to me is that I think when I have really strong feelings about something, particularly when it's something that I then want something of other people, I try to have a really clear understanding of why I feel that way. What's the underlying thing that I want? I want a grand unified theory on the thing so that I can clearly explain to other people, here's why this is so important to me and here's why I would love to have you involved. Because when you do that, then they can hear that and be like, okay, so I'm hearing that the thing you want is like, all the attention on you for a day because you don't feel like you get that. Okay. So I need to focus on that. And if it's attention you want, I can do that, but I might not need to do that in a week-long celebration that involves going to six different restaurants, right? Like there's different ways. So I think it's super helpful when people can articulate what it is about the thing that is so important, because it helps other people then care for them. And so birthday adults who haven't really thought about it to that extent and who just throw out these sort of demands of, "I want this, this, and this, well obviously, it's my birthday," and aren't acknowledging that everyone has a different cultural understanding of birthdays and then a different personal relationship to birthdays, I think that leads to the tension. So I think if you are a birthday adult or a Christmas adult or a St Patrick's Day adult or whatever your holiday, whatever your event, occasion, that you feel really strongly about is, I think it's worth putting some thought into why, so you can better articulate to the people around you what it is you want and need to enjoy yourself. And if you don't do that, I think that's where there's a lot of hurt feelings and unmet expectations.

Sally: Yeah. Hurt feelings and unmet expectations, I think on both sides, because I think people who have really strong feelings about birthday adults also maybe have not thought through what it is that is really aggravating to them about it. So I think that's part of it. And I think also, it's so important to remember, we talked about this with gift giving, where if gift giving really matters to you and is really important to you, and you're exchanging gifts with someone who just doesn't really care that much about gifts, it might make you feel bad. You can get a gift from them that feels thoughtless and be like, "Man, I guess they don't care about me, because to me getting someone a good gift is how you show you care about them. And if they gave me a bad gift, they must not care about me." But it's actually, and I think it's the same thing with birthdays where, I used to be someone who, if I didn't hear from my friends on my birthday, like in my twenties and my teens, I felt this way. I felt like they must not really be thinking of me, they must not care about me, they don't love me enough to remember me on my birthday. But the fact of the matter is that people have their own feelings about birthdays and their own associations. And if I have a friend who doesn't reach out on my birthday, maybe to them, a birthday isn't the most important way to show someone you're thinking of them and you love them. And so I feel like I've really evolved as a birthday person where now it's just a day to be really psyched when people do think of me, and when people reach out and say something nice and heartfelt. And if they don't, that's also fine. [Laughs]

Rachel: Yeah. I think that what you said about when you were younger and you were thinking, well, if I don't hear from my friends on my birthday, they don't care about me -- I actually think that underpins a lot of people's feelings about birthdays, that it does feel like this sort of... it's a bit of a comparison trap because if you have this idea in your head that birthdays are for being surrounded by friends and the people you love and being showered with this, and you've seen just enough of that on other people's social media or you've been to other people's birthdays and it feels like this big thing, and then you don't have that, you find yourself thinking, well, what's wrong with me? Don't people care about me? You know. And I don't think that's true. I think it's totally reasonable to feel that way, but I don't think that if you don't have a big birthday celebration, it means you don't have friends, that you're not loved, that people don't care about you. Because look at me, half my friends are out of town every year when my birthday rolls around. It's just the timing. And you can't say to kids, oh, if you cared, you wouldn't travel that time of year. Their parents are planning trips, it has nothing to do with me. And so I think it can be helpful too, if you're finding yourself with really strong feelings about your lack of friends or your lack of connection and what your birthday celebration says about you, it can be helpful to really unpack what's going on. Is it true that people don't really care about me? You might not be able to change those feelings, but I personally think that if you have an under-attended birthday or do something quietly, without a lot of people, it doesn't actually say anything about you and your worth or how much you mean to other people.

Sally: Yeah. I totally agree with that.

Rachel: So I wanted to recommend a really wonderful Captain Awkward post from 2019 that I think about a lot in this context. It's called Birthday Blues Bulletin Board: Advice + Open Thread. We will link to it in the show notes. Captain Awkward is an advice columnist who gets a ton of questions about birthdays, sort of like, 'my friends forgot my birthday', or 'my spouse never does anything', or 'I didn't want any gifts, but people brought gifts anyway'. There's a lot of questions about birthdays. So this is an attempt at one big post with all of the birthday advice that could kind of apply to all of these situations. And I think it's really helpful for our purposes. I wanted to share some of this advice that she wrote: "If you are over the age of 21 and/or otherwise out of your parents’ care, if you want a Big Deal made about your birthday, it’s almost certainly up to you to make it (or explicitly tell people close to you what a Big Deal looks like to you and that you’d specifically like one) so that they know what to do. Don’t assume people will intuit what you want. They won’t. You can get old and die waiting for other people to figure out what you want by osmosis." Which I think is just like so helpful for so many things in life. Tell people what you want, don't assume that they know what you want. And she also offers a couple of questions as jumping off points: How did you grow up celebrating birthdays? And if you could celebrate any way you want, what would you most like to do? So I think those are really good questions if you have a new significant other or a new in-law in your life, you can figure out what that person might want for their birthday, get a little bit of an understanding about them. When you ask how did you celebrate birthdays growing up, you're going to get a lot of insight into how people think about birthdays and what they mean to them. So I think that's a great question, but I think just thinking of it as oh, you need to,... particularly with significant others or very close friends, you need to have a working understanding of what this means to them, what they want. And you need to be willing to communicate what you want. I think that's true of anything -- that when it comes to gifts, celebrations, all of that, we can't just expect people to know how we feel, and birthdays are something that might seem universal. Everyone has birthdays, so obviously there's a set thing of what you can expect for birthdays, but that's simply not true. We all have different expectations and understandings. And so you've got to say to people, it's really important for me to have a cake with candles on it, or cards mean a lot to me. I love getting birthday cards, even if people don't give me a gift, I would love for them to give me a card. Those little things can tell people a lot, and they just aren't true for everyone. There's no solid rules for birthdays that apply to everyone. So I think my birthday rule is, there are no rules. You have to have individual conversations with the people in your life.

Sally: I totally agree. And you know, there are plenty of people who don't celebrate birthdays for religious reasons or grew up not celebrating for religious reasons and maybe now they do, or maybe now they don't. And I totally agree that there's just so much going on that you have to have these conversations and this is just really good evergreen applicable advice, that you get old and die waiting for other people to figure out what you want by osmosis. That just goes for everything. And speaking of getting old and dying, I just want to say that like--

Rachel: [Laughs] I was actually, when you said that I was like, should we talk about the existential crises that birthdays can bring? I don't know if that's where you're going, but I want to put a pin in that as well.

Sally: Yeah. I mean, it's adjacent to where I was going, which is that I was going to say that I think when people have really strong... there is one strain of being an anti-birthday adult person, which is people saying if you're over -- and then fill in X age -- you shouldn't care about your birthday anymore. It's for kids, or it's for... after you're 18 you shouldn't care, after 21 you shouldn't care, whatever it is. And I hate that, because I feel like it's really judgy for absolutely no reason, because if you care about your birthday, it's not like that's inherently harmful to other people. So I really don't like when people have that opinion, but also speaking of getting old and dying, to me, it's very understandable that people have a lot of intense feelings about birthdays, whether it's being a hugely person, being a birthday adult, being very either indifferent to their birthday or very not liking their birthday and feeling anti-birthday adult about other people. Because what is just under the surface is that birthdays are about getting older and closer to death. And I feel like the way that different cultures deal with death, and the fact that like it's ever-present, it's always there, even when we're not actively thinking about it. We're all just trying to get a bunch of stuff done before we die, whether those things are experiences or life milestones or whatever. And I think that the reason, one of the reasons that people have such strong feelings about this is because I do think the existential question of what does it mean to age, what does it mean to grow older, is kind of just below the surface or looming above us, depending on which direction feels better to you.

Rachel: Yeah, I agree. I find myself as I'm getting older, feeling a little bit more existential about age and birthdays in a way that I didn't before. And so I'm not sure if that's going to change how I feel about birthdays with each passing year or just make me feel like I need something more to celebrate because I'm feeling so stressed about it. But I do think that how you feel about your birthday likely changes as you age. And I don't discount people who have strong feelings about their birthday because they're stressing out about their own connections and mortality and all of these things.

Sally: Yeah, totally. I love any time when we can sneak in a little thing about mortality and fear of death. So I'm glad that we did that.

Rachel: [Laughs] Yeah.

Sally: Okay, so let's now talk about our own personal, most memorable birthday experiences. You already know a couple of mine, but I'm wondering Rachel, what are your most memorable birthdays?

Rachel: So I had a couple of big ones that stick out to me. My 16th birthday was really fun. I had just gone to a summer theater program at a local college and made a bunch of new friends and decided to invite them over for my birthday. I think my mom was throwing me a party, it was mostly going to be family and a couple of friends, because again, people aren't really around. So I invited all these new friends and they basically all came, so it was our first chance to see each other after this program that we had gone to earlier in the summer. And it was kind of like the first time I really had like, wow, a birthday. And it was the birthday I was turning 16, which is a really big one. So I got my driver's license, my mom got me one of those cakes that you can put a photo on. She had it made to look like my driver's license. And so that was the cake, and she got me a silver necklace from Tiffany that was engraved with the date on it. I still have it. So just like a very special birthday. And yeah, so that was a really good one. My 21st birthday was really fun too, because I had studied abroad that year -- I had gotten back in June, I think. And so again, I had made some new friends, some were 21, some weren't, but the ones who were over 21 took me out. The others, we got together before and pregamed together, and then they were there for me when I got back. It was a completely ridiculous and inadvisable 21st birthday that just involved drinking until I threw up, but it was fun. It was like, I did 21 in that way and I really enjoyed myself. And that was really great. So those are the two big ones.

Sally: I love that.

Rachel: The other thing I've been doing as I've gotten older, I think this might be controversial, but I think that birthdays might be secretly couples holidays in that it is so much easier to have a birthday when you have a partner, because you just do something with them. And then it's kind of like you're set on the social expectation of how many friends came to your party? It's just like, oh, I did this with my partner and that's that, no one's asking more questions than that. And so I think as I've gotten older and I've been in relationships, it's been easier to celebrate my birthday because I just can do something with that person. We can have a nice day, a nice time, and that covers it. So I think birthdays are really good opportunities for little trips for that reason. You get the longer, if you want a birthday week or weekend, the trip helps with that. It's a gift in itself. Souvenirs are a gift. There's novelty. So I've taken a few trips, hoping to take some more, and I think that's another way to, I don't know, it's a birthday workaround that I highly recommend.

Sally: I love that.

Rachel: Yeah.

Sally: Yeah. Speaking of birthday trips that are workarounds, for my 40th, we went to Savannah, Georgia for a weekend and our friends Sarah and Adam met us out there and we just hung out and we just walked around and we had really good food and drank. And it was really fun to be in a new place. And the day of, I don't even know if we were there for my actual birthday, but it was just my birthday observed and it was really nice. Just a couple of other memorable ones. In childhood, I felt like my birthday parties were bummers because the cake was kosher for Passover as I mentioned. My brother, Nick, one birthday party though, he wrote like a whole murder mystery.

Rachel: Wow.

Sally: Yeah. And all my friends were different characters. So it was like a LARP. It was like a murder mystery LARP.

Rachel: That's really good.

Sally: Which was fucking rad. I loved it. I mentioned that on my 39th birthday, I had an emergency appendectomy. That was a real bummer. And so that was on a Monday, and then on Saturday, our friends Alison and Beth came over, Andrea made me a cake and they just came over. I was recovering, I wasn't too well. And there are pictures of me blowing out the candles on the cake and you know, I couldn't really blow because of having had the appendectomy. And so I'm just pained and exhaling lightly onto a bunch of candles. So that was like, it's really weird though, because when that happened, Andrea and I were joking, you know, as a hugely person, I want a lot of attention on my birthday.

Rachel: It's true.

Sally: I don't necessarily want it from every single person in my life, but you know, I do want the people close to me to be paying attention to me. And let me tell you something, I had doctors, I had nurses, I had surgeons, I had a CAT scan on my birthday, Andrea was at the hospital with me all day. I could not have been getting more attention that day. So in a funny way, it was like, hey, that's a good birthday for a hugely person.

Rachel: [Laughs] I think that's right. I think your appendix was doing you a favor, or so it believed.

Sally: Yeah, no, it totally did. And it was like, "I'm going to get out of here. I'm going to get out of the way of this, but first, let me give you this gift." On my 38th birthday we went to go see Belinda Sinclair, who's a magician who is in New York City and has the world's biggest library of women in magic ephemera. And you just sit in her... I forgot what she calls it. It's her living room, but she calls it like her... seance chambers? I can't remember what she calls it, but you sit there and she does magic, and it was fucking amazing.

Rachel: I have wanted to do this since you told me about it. Every six months I'm like, what was that magician Sally told me about, and when can I do that? Because it sounded amazing.

Sally: Oh, so good. We'll link to it in the show notes. She's amazing. I took a selfie with her after and I felt like I was taking a selfie with one of the Beatles. It was amazing. That was really memorable. And then I'll just say, the only other really memorable birthday that sticks out to me was, I actually think it was my 30th birthday. I didn't really drink until my late twenties, early thirties. And for my 30th, I went out with friends. I was living in New York, and I remember that I realized that day I was starting to get sick. I was having that scratchy throat and everything. And I was like, man. And it's like, you know, before you get sick, you still mostly feel okay, you just know what's about to hit you?

Rachel: Yeah.

Sally: So I was like, well, I'm still gonna go out for my birthday. And I remember saying to my friends, I'm just going to ride until the wheels fall off.

Sally: Wow. [Laughs]

Sally: Yeah. And I got so incredibly drunk that I felt like I had traveled to another dimension. I was like, I don't live on earth in this dimension anymore. It was wild and terrible. And it was really fun that night, but not only was I incredibly hungover the next day, but I think that I had goaded the cold I was getting into just turning into the flu, because I think this is what happens when your body is fighting off something and you fill it with poison. So I also was incredibly sick, but I remember at the time looking back on it and being like, hey, I said I was going to ride until the wheels fall off, the wheels are off. And now I'm recovering. Nowadays that would immediately cause my instant death. But back then it felt like a really fun way to celebrate a birthday.

Rachel: That's great. And terrible, but also great.

Sally: Terrible and great.

Rachel: Yeah. So I wanted to mention just this past week that it was our friend Terri's birthday and she is an Aries, she loves her birthday, and this is going to be her second birthday in a pandemic, which I knew she was really down about. So my girlfriend and I really went in on celebrating her from a distance. So we decided to take our little at-home celebration show and make it travel. So I got in touch with her mom and said, "Hey, we want to send some decorations for Terri's birthday. Would you be willing to put them up for her if we do?" So her mom was all for it. Terri told me later that her mom was thrilled to be included because her mom loves birthdays and just was so happy that we were doing this and felt so honored that we asked her to help us with it. So we went with a casino night/game night theme because Terri loves games. And actually, we got her a really nice game for her birthday. So it was like, okay, it's coming together. So we just sent, you know, it was a tablecloth that had all the different cards suits all over it and just black and red decorations and silver tinsel for the door. Just little things like that. So her mom set that up. We sent the game to her and then we also got her an airbrushed t-shirt because she had mentioned last year that she never got one when she was younger and had always wanted one. So it in the back of my mind, and so it just was perfect for this. So we had it custom made. It says 'Terri's 31st', it's got two big dice on it, so the dice are showing three and one, and then under that, it says 'high roller'. So we sent that to her too so she could put that on and wear it to her casino night. And then as an extended surprise, we also got the shirts for ourselves. So we FaceTimed with her that night and we were wearing the shirts on the call. The shirt rocks, like, I will absolutely wear it, too. It's very cute. The colors are really good. So it was a really fun way to make somebody else feel special, it was something for us to look forward to. It sounds like she had a really great birthday with her family as well, so it was just a great day all around. So I'm feeling good birthday vibes right now. Good start to Aries season.

Sally: Oh my God. I love that. I didn't realize that you guys made that shirt. I saw that shirt on her Instagram. That rules. I just want to say also, I was talking to Terri the other day and her mom and sisters got her a Cameo.

Rachel: Yup.

Sally: Do you know about that?

Rachel: Yeah, she told us, yup.

Sally: From Captain Lee from Below Deck, which is like, I honestly can't think of a better Cameo to get and she allowed me to watch it and it was amazing.

Rachel: That's so cute.

Sally: And I just want to say, that is an example, like what you did for Terri, you and your girlfriend did, and what Terri's family did, that's an example of people knowing what... I don't know if Terri identifies as a birthday adult, but she definitely, I think is a hugely. I think it's an example of a hugely person making known what they want and people in her life showing up for her. So that's a birthday success story. It's a birthday love story. And I love it.

Rachel: [Laughs] It was a really good one. It was really fun. I love it. It's like, let me celebrate you in a way that makes sense to me and makes you feel great. Best all around.

Sally: Yes. Oh man. Great. Like you said, what a great start to Aries season. Just a quick note for any of our octogenarians out there: if you are celebrating your 80th birthday, you can request a birthday card from the President. You must be turning at least 80 years old and be a US citizen, but just in case you want that from President Biden. That's a thing that I discovered in my birthday research.

Rachel: I can see some people really liking that.

Sally: Yeah, I can see people liking that and I figure we must have some almost 80 year old listeners out there. So I just wanted to let you know.

Rachel: That's really great. I also have one sort of fun birthday note, and that is the Dutch birthday calendar, which I found out about when I was researching my book. I don't even know exactly how I came across this, but the idea is that, it's also called a perpetual calendar and it's a calendar that just has the dates on it, but not the days. So it doesn't match days and dates, it just is like, one, two, three, four, five, blah, blah, blah, for each month. And the idea is that you write your friends and family member's birthdays on the date. And it's like, the calendar always works. It's just always up to date. And according to the blog Stuff Dutch People Like, a lot of people hang it in their bathroom. And the idea is like, well, that's where you're often are, you're sitting there, you got time, so you can look at it and see whose birthday is coming up. And if you search for 'perpetual calendar' on Etsy, you can find really cute modern versions, which I just think is such a nice idea. It's a great way to remember people's birthdays and kind of build this ongoing record, add a little decor to your wall, and I don't know, just a nice vibe, I like it.

Sally: Yeah. I love that. That's such a good idea. That's the definition of a life hack, you know, put everyone's birthdays in your bathroom.

Rachel: [Laughs]

Sally: I think that we've covered birthdays pretty okay.

Rachel: I think so.

Sally: So let's wrap it up. What do you have for a nice thing to end on, Rachel?

Rachel: My nice thing to end on is a documentary called The Orange Years, which you can rent from many major platforms. I think we rented it on YouTube, but it is a documentary about nineties Nickelodeon and it is delightful. I loved Nickelodeon and I was like a kid in Nickelodeon's heyday. And so I was just filled with so much nostalgia, but it's a really great documentary kind of about what happens when a good leader is in charge of something and helps talented people do their job. It really comes down to, Nickelodeon was under the leadership of one woman who had a really incredible vision, and that was like, respecting children and treating them with dignity and giving them entertainment that was for them and it made magic. And so it's really cool to see how they achieved that. And in watching this I was like, man, nineties Nickelodeon rocked, I loved this. I felt so seen by this. It was so cool and it was so smart, and I love seeing things like this and finding out it wasn't an accident that it was so wildly popular. They made a series of really incredible decisions that got it there. And it was just great all around. I mean, it's produced by these people, so, you know, it's not going to be an exposé of anything bad that was going on at Nickelodeon, obviously. But if you want to just have a minute to think about how awesome Nicktoons and Clarissa, and Are You Afraid of the Dark and Alex Mack were, I would have watched three more parts on this. They could've done so much more, but it's a tight two hours and just, it's really fun. I highly recommend it.

Sally: That's awesome. It's really funny that you're bringing this up because just the other night I went on a prompted by nothing deep dive of Nickelodeon shows from the mid eighties, early to mid eighties, because I was just remembering a lot of stuff about my childhood and was like, let me see if this was all a fever dream or if it really happened. And I have to say that one of the things that I have FOMO about is mid to late nineties Nickelodeon such as Alex Mack, and I think Pete and Pete, Salute Your Shorts, Clarissa, because those were, I was basically a little bit too old for them, but friends of mine who are five to ten years younger than me talk about it. It's a thing they bond over and they talk about it so lovingly. And I have seen some of Clarissa, Hey Dude, I watched Hey Dude, that came out in 1989, but by the heyday of 91, 92 and on, I wasn't really watching Nickelodeon anymore. And so I feel sad that I missed out on it. And it's like, I don't have that much cultural era FOMO about that many things, but this is definitely one of them. Yeah. I'm excited to check that out, because Nickelodeon played a huge role in my childhood. And the shows in the eighties were so fucking weird. I don't know, do you--

Rachel: They touched on this in the documentary.

Sally: Oh good.

Rachel: It was very different, yeah.

Sally: So bizarre. That's why I was like, did I make this up in my head or was this real?

Rachel: Yeah. Makes total sense to me.

Sally: Okay, my nice thing to end on is that today is two weeks from my second dose of the Pfizer vaccine, so.

Rachel: That's amazing news. Wow.

Sally: Yeah. So yeah, I'm technically fully vaccinated.

Rachel: Wow. Congratulations.

Sally: Thank you. It feels really good. Nothing will change about anything.

Rachel: Yep [laughs]

Sally: The one thing that will change is I will now do a thing that people have been doing this entire year, which is go outside with two masks on and see another friend outside with two masks on, now that I'm fully vaccinated.

Rachel: That's a big step for you, so I'm excited.

Sally: It's a huge step. We all have our thresholds of what we feel comfortable with. So anyway, but it's good. We're getting there, you know, and California is about to open up to everyone over fifty? Fifty and over? And then soon everyone.

Rachel: Yeah. I think I read this morning in the Times that 31 States have either already opened to every adult or it's on the calendar, which is really remarkable. So it's happening.

Sally: It's happening, people. But the other thing that's also happening is still the pandemic. So please, even though it's warm outside and stuff, please continue to be incredibly serious and rigorous about social distancing and wearing masks and washing your hands and not being indoors with people. And also that goes for eating in restaurants. Thank you for listening to my PSA.

Rachel: Absolutely. Yep. The New York City risk has gone from red to dark purple, which is a bad thing. We are back to extremely high risk. So please, please, please. We're almost through this, but just keep doing what you've been doing and maybe even be a little safer if you were taking some risks. It's really the time to hunker down, because the end is in sight.

Sally: The end is in sight. Hunker the fuck down. All right. Well, we did it. That's it. So thank you all for listening to this episode of Oh I Like That. Please rate us and review us. We got a couple new reviews in the last couple of weeks, which we really super appreciate. If you've been listening and you enjoy it, please take a second to do that.

Rachel: You can also follow us on Twitter @ohilikethatpod and email us at ohilikethatpod@gmail.com. You can also follow the two of us. I'm @the_rewm and Sally is @sallyt.

Sally: Oh I Like That is produced by Rachel and Sally and edited by Lucas. Amber Seger, who is @rocketorca on social media, designed our logo.