HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: You know I love cool numbers, right? I always see when it's 11:11 on the digital clock. (Jonathan and I have a deal to think of each other when we see it.) I always see 12:34. Dates are interesting, too. When it was 11:11 on 11/11/11? I mean, that was neat. This year, we'll have 11/12/13, but that's another blog.
SO to have a birthday on a fun date, that makes an already special thing even better. (Yes, I still like birthdays, I just don't think of them as chronological. It's like--Hank Day. Not about getting older. which is yet another blog. )When we were growing up, we used to lobby for birthday WEEK, which Mom, sadly, never bought in to. Our family's birthday thing was the honoree got to pick whatever they wanted for dinner.
So our dear Terry Ambrose, friends of the Reds has a birthday--today! On 1/11. NIce. even nicer, he has a gift for YOU. Read on.
YOU SAY IT'S YOUR BIRTHDAY
by Terry Ambrose
This blog appearance is something of a surprise party. When we set this up, I didn’t realize what day “January 11” was. Then, a day or so later, it hit me. Today is my birthday!
And that’s not as in going to a restaurant and fudging the day by a few days just to get the free dessert. No, today really is the day.
Once I’d connected the dots, my thoughts immediately went to “what could make this a fun little celebration?” It would be hard to top my favorite birthday, which was a few years ago when we spent time on Kauai for three weeks in January. Now that was birthday in paradise! And, there is a downside to virtual parties. Wee can’t do cake and ice cream. Alcohol is out. So are the spankings. However, I can share some really unusual birthday traditions from around the world with one caveat: I haven’t experienced any of these traditions firsthand…thank goodness.
On Yahoo Voices, I found a 2008 post from Ayanna Guyhto about birthdays in Germany for men who have reached the age of 30. “According to custom, these men are made to sweep the steps of City Hall. Upon finishing this task, the birthday ‘boy’s’ friends toss in some more dirt and rubble to ensure that passing females will see him and know that he keeps a clean house.” Are you kidding me? I can just see his friends cheering and jeering. “The other end! It’s not a pool cue!” What if his arms get tired? Does that make him look like a weenie and blow the whole deal?
On the “Divine Caroline” blog in 2010, Kathryn Williams posted about parents in Lucerne, Switzerland who hire an evil clown to “stalk, harass, and eventually smash a pie in the face of their beloved birthday boys and girls.” This custom would appear to be a bit more popular than expected because you can find these clowns (no pun intended) on the Internet. There’s one who will even stalk your kids for a week. And, of course, I’ve got questions about this whole clown thing. What if the kid’s been good? Do they still do this? What if Johnny is always in trouble? Will the clown consider going on retainer?
Have you ever wondered where the birthday spanking tradition came from? Williams also reported that “In England and Ireland, kids receive ‘the bumps’ on their birthday, which sounds like an STD but is actually a lot more fun. Friends and family lift birthday boys and girls by their arms and legs, raise them into the air, and then plunk them down on the floor, once for each year they’ve lived.” Right. Try explaining that one to Child Protective Services.
There’s even an entire industry built around “unusual birthday gifts.” It seems that everyone wants to give a present that no one else will have. These gifts include things like T-shirts with clever sayings like “Authentic Vintage” and the year of the recipient’s birth. So, tell me, Reds, how many of you would wear one of those Tees?—that’s what I thought.
Celebrating birthdays is different around the world, but it seems that the giving of gifts is somewhat universal. And since the Reds were so kind as to host me on “my day,” I’d like to give something back. I’m giving away a free book to some lucky commenter. Choose either my new release, “License to Lie,” or “Photo Finish.” And, pick either Kindle or softcover. It’s your choice. Just leave a comment to enter and on Monday, January 14 we’ll pick a winner.
And happy birthday, dear Terry!
You can find out more about Terry Ambrose and his novels, License to Lie and Photo Finish, at terryambrose.com. Find him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter as @suspense_writer.