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In the past, I've avoided writing about my birthday.

Over the years, I've written about just about everything else in my life in this space, trying to show there's a bit of humanity in the anonymous news writer guy. Everything from marriage to failed home improvement projects has been exposed here.

But birthdays? I hate birthdays.

Birthdays are created, celebrated, in a way that draws attention to the individual — something I'm not too crazy about. I know that seems hard to believe given the fact I plaster my name all over a newspaper, then send it out to the public in hopes that somebody will pay attention. Didn't I just say I wanted you, gentle reader, to know all about me?

For a long time, it was possible to keep my birthday pretty much private. The family obviously knew about it, and we make a big deal over birthdays here at Grunion Central, but I managed to keep it out of the public spotlight.

Then along came social media. Facebook, to be exact.

Somewhere along the line, I slipped up and gave Mark Zuckerberg my date of birth. And my good friend Mark loves to make a big deal about birthdays.

There is an ulterior motive, of course. Birthdays drive traffic. Mark actively suggests that you wish your friends a happy birthday, then the friend says thanks back, then you say how was it, then the friend tells you, then you have to react, then … I'm not sure how it all works, but Mark makes a bit of money every time you and I hit post.

Don't get me wrong. I love it when my friends wish me a happy birthday — it acknowledges my existence. I get that warm fuzzy feeling just like you do. And I'll admit to sending my own birthday wishes to my friends too — when Mark tells me it is my friend's birthday. I'm really bad about keeping track of those sorts of things (Maria handles all the family birthdays).

So yeah, Monday was my birthday. And I have to admit, it was sort of a big one.

No, I didn't turn 40, or 50, or even 60. (Remember when we used to say we'd never trust anyone older than 30, then we turned 30?) It wasn't any of those years that end in zero and are thought of as milestones.

I turned 66 — the new 65, at least as far as the Social Security Administration is concerned. I am eligible to take my full fair share of Social Security payments now. My child bride wife will have to wait until she's 67 or maybe 68 to get those same benefits. It's one way they're trying to keep the whole thing afloat.

Remember Social Security? That's the line on the pay stub taking the money you thought you'd never see again. It turns out they do still pay Social Security benefits, at least for now, and I'm going to get some.

Thank God I don't work in a business where there is a mandatory retirement age — I hear there still are a few of those around despite the whole age discrimination thing. I couldn't afford to retire. And to be honest, I don't think I would if I could. I have too much fun doing what I do.

So I had a birthday. I hate birthdays. But, as they say, it beats the alternative.

Harry has been executive editor of Gazette Newspapers for more than 26 years. He has been in the newspaper business for more than 35 years, with experience on both weekly and metropolitan daily papers in Colorado and California.

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