I find birthdays to be highly anxious times.
Not mine, mine are fine (mostly). I don’t care that much.
Sometimes I organize drinks at a pub, other times I can’t be bothered. May isn’t warm enough in this country and in Maharashtra my birthday is a dry day (not that has ever stopped us drinking at home). So my birthday is usually a moderate affair.
The ex is the opposite. The ex’s birthday is very important. Like an occasion of state.
Parades and confetti, a marching band and obsequious fawning. Protesters being executed at dawn. The usual dictatorial celebrations.
The ex also likes to test me before the big event, by asking, very casually,
“So….do you know what next thursday is?”
I pretend I don’t know, casually of course,
Shrug. “Uhm… no….?”
The ex’s hackles rise immediately – Ou est la guillotine??
“You don’t remember?? You forgot?”
Then I make a mock-horror face and say
“OH MY GOD!!! Noooooooooooooooooooo!”
I try to entertain the ex at home, in this way. The ex hates it.
That aside, the ex’s birthdays give me nightmares. Literally. I woke up stressed a week before the ‘Royal Day’ after a dream where I was looking for gifts in vain. The pressure is dreadful.
What is worse is that I feel the chances of success are slim to none. If the ex desires something it has already been bought, and it’s usually some designer gear. This makes gift giving a real struggle. The ex is also a utilitarian, so novelty items (that great birthday present refuge) are a no-go area.
If the ex doesn’t like a present I have to return it, not the ex. So my hair-pulling, pathetic efforts are rewarded with trouble and humiliation. (I think, only one present of mine has remained unreturned.) Worst of all the dud present is soundly critiqued and I am scolded for any of its flaws.
How can I buy the wrong kind of present? Why aren’t I more efficient? What is wrong with me? I suck. Doesn’t the ex always get me gifts I like? Blah blah.
This is true in so far that I have so far only disliked 1 present (one didn’t fit but which I returned, myself).
The simple reason for this is that I have low expectations. Not in any negative way, but I don’t demand cake. No confetti. No parade. No heads on silver platters. I’m pretty easy to please.
This year after looking around and pulling out my hair, I asked the ex what they wanted. Shoes and clothes were out – size is too risky. Household things – a vase? Yuck. Things for kitchen – like what? I already bought the ex a chef’s outfit with name embroidered. You know it was really stupid of me to use that gift on a non-event day. It was a great gift. I should have saved it for some ‘occasion’ instead, but I was excited and I wanted the ex to have it. Now I had no idea what to get, Fuck!
Anyway, to return to the point – I asked the ex what they wanted.
The ex grudgingly told me what they would like. Grudgingly because I’m expected to be a psychic, you know. I ask because I would rather get something the ex actually wants, and perhaps I won’t be criticised and have to return it. The ex translates this as not giving a fuck.
(The ex is one of those people who demands surprises but hates them once received. The ex will deny this, but the ex is not a ‘surprises’ person. Fact. And I’m not a psychic. Double fact.)
So I found whatever it was online, wrapped it, matching card. Blah blah. (The ex loves things that match.) The ex said OK thanks – at the time…Later the ex said it wasn’t good enough. (which annoyed me hugely) Then we had that idiotic fight about cake.
It wasn’t just a fight about cake… (like that Marks & Spencers ad – it’s not just a cake…it’s a chocolate soaked, gold-plated, diamond encrusted M&S cake).
I feel the ex is uniquely ungrateful and ungracious. (My mom and I bought a bag, from some expensive shop in Bombay, which the ex absolutely hated and didn’t hesitate voicing it. Then I felt bad about that. Bad that we got it wrong, bad the ex was tearing into the little peace-offering and bad because I told my mom that the ex liked it. Bad x 3. Never again. Seriously.)
So now I feel nothing will be good enough.
Note: Let me just add that the majority of my birthdays the ex has ruined in some way. The year before last I slept on the couch after an awful, entirely unwarranted scene at 4 in the morning – also even though it was the last thing I wanted to do, the ex and my gay ex flat-mate insisted on going to The End. A seriously shit time. Hated it. I fucking hated it. So angry about that. Yes, still.
Another year, the ex couldn’t be bothered with me and leaving me in their flat, went out with some other friends. I was so depressed I cried. One year we went to Brussels and the ex fought we me and then said some things which were so offensive and upsetting, that I can’t forgive them even now.
Last year I refused to do anything – I’d rather just have a peaceful night.
So a couple of weeks ago the ex asked me what I wanted. I said Barbara Cartlands (I didn’t think the ex would agree, frankly.) But the ex did agree! On a small list of 15 used books on eBay.
I was really, really excited. I made up the list up to prevent duplicates. It took some time to do this.
The ex only bought 8 because the seller ran out of the others. Dammit! So I asked if the ex would let me check and make another list?
“No I can’t be bothered, it’s done now. That’s it. Don’t bug me.”
So now, even though I am aware it’s ungrateful and absurd, I’m disappointed.
Partly because the ex clearly doesn’t reciprocate any of the anxiety I feel for their birthday, and partly because I wanted all 15.
Like its pointless. Birthdays just are fucking pointless. Yours, other people’s, everyone’s. Whatever you do it’s a fucking disappointment. I fucking hate birthdays. I wish we could just can the whole thing.
(My Barbara Cartland addiction is making me slightly dramatic and emotional. I wanted those 15 god dammit. How will my BC count ever go up at this rate?)
I’d like to say while writing this post, I thought of a good gift for the ex for next year and although I’m not sure the ex will appreciate it, it’s probably good to plan well in advance considering the high level of tension the Glorious Day of Birth can cause.
And Fuck I’ll even buy a cake which the ex probably won’t eat. Sheesh.
Christ. Fucking cake.
Post Post Post Script: We had a pointless fight about cleaning the other day (nothing to do with the post above), so I went on a spree and bought 17 more BC’s to console myself.
I feel better now.