birthday-candlesMy birthday will roll around again a couple of weeks like it has for at least thirty-nine other years, and I’m kind of depressed. Don’t get me wrong. It is better to have one than to not have one, but even so, it sometimes seems like there is no upside to the day. Ice cream is bad for my good cholesterol and good for my bad cholesterol, the smoke detector in the kitchen keeps going off because there are so many candles on the cake, and I have to listen to people tell me that I don’t look my age. That is true, by the way. I don’t look my age. I look much older. Four children will do that to you, but that is a story for another time. I will say this for birthdays, however, they are good days to pause and reflect on what you have learned during your days on this planet. So this year I have taken a moment to reflect upon some of the truths I have discovered while making my journey through life. I wouldn’t call what follows the wisdom of the ages. It is not that wise and I am not that old. It is more like a few facts I have stumbled upon over time and some observations I have had the opportunity to make. Now that I have the benefit of hindsight, I am making this knowledge available to everyone.

  • The honey-do list has no end. It will go on forever, like the number line.
  • The more channels you get, the less likely it is that you will find something to watch.
  • If the price for the all-you-can-eat buffet is less than $5.00 including the drink and dessert, keep driving.
  • People don’t usually change their minds about politics, religion, healthcare, or oatmeal.
  • Just because the light is on doesn’t mean the cash register lane is open.
  • Antiques are for the most part just old junk with positive attitudes and good marketing.
  • Elvis may have left the building, but he is still the king.
  • Turkey and bacon are mutually-exclusive terms. Bacon needs to come from a pig. Two other words that need some distance between them are unsweetened and iced tea. If it is not sweet tea, it is not iced tea.
  • Sometimes, the experts don’t know what to do, either.
  • Long distance bills are unreadable, so don’t feel bad if you can’t make heads or tails out of yours. I can’t even determine which company I am with.
  • The grass actually is sometimes greener on the other side. But you ought to see their water bill.
  • The person on the back of the motorcycle does not always look as happy as the person on the front of the motorcycle.
  • There is not an “any key” on your computer keyboard.
  • Before you get too excited at the half-price sale, remember that the merchandise was originally marked up at least 100%.
  • You can always eventually get there from here.
  • As it turns out, everything is bad for you, but not quite as bad as researchers once thought.
  • Researchers are bad for you.
  • Airline coach seats are examples of cruel and unusual punishment, and as such they violate the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution.
  • Record albums were better.
  • Rap music and bottled water have officially caught on. I never would have believed it, either. I suppose it is time to be paying off those bets.
  • The pool will always turn green the day before the birthday party.
  • If your high school nickname was Zombie, you should pass on going to the class reunion.
  • Calling it art doesn’t make it art.
  • If the button isn’t labeled, don’t push it.
  • Unless your name is Jacques and your weight is less than one hundred pounds, do not buy a Speedo.
  • You may be right, but the eighteen-wheeler is bigger.
  • Lunchroom ladies make the best macaroni and cheese.
  • Beware of eating establishments that charge for refills.
  • Don’t ever try to beat the train.
  • Do not mix checks and stripes.
  • The back of your debit card is a bad place to jot your PIN.
  • Pay the plumber whatever he wants.
  • Blackberry cobbler with vanilla ice cream is worth the calories.
  • The fish don’t know if it’s raining or not.
  • If you are scheduled to appear on the Jerry Springer show and they ask you to step into the soundproof room for a little while, leave the premises immediately.
  • Twenty year paint doesn’t last twenty years. You might as well buy the cheap stuff.

Well, there they are. Hopefully you encountered a nugget or two to help you through your day. And keep in mind this final piece of advice. If you found any of these observations to be life-changing, then you are not getting out enough.

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Raymond L. Atkins

Raymond L. Atkins

Raymond L. Atkins resides in Rome, Georgia. His stories have been published in Christmas Stories from Georgia, The Lavender Mountain Anthology, The Blood and Fire Review, The Old Red Kimono, Long Island Woman, and Savannah Magazine. His humorous column —"South of the Etowah" — appears in The Rome News-Tribune. His industrial maintenance column — "The Fundamentals" — appears in Maintenance Technology Magazine. His humorous column — "And So It Goes" — appears in Memphis Downtowner Magazine. His first novel, "The Front Porch Prophet," was published by Medallion Press in June of 2008 to critical acclaim and earned the 2009 Georgia Author of the Year Award for First Novel. His second novel, "Sorrow Wood," was released in June 2009 by Medallion Press and has been nominated for the 2010 Georgia Author of the Year Award for Fiction. Both are available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other fine booksellers. His third novel, "Camp Redemption," will be released in August, 2011.