I'm generally good with dates. I'm one of those people who can tell you what I was doing the third Wednesday of January 2013 (dinner on campus at 5:45 PM, student org meeting at 6, the library at 8:30, home by 10). "Serial" would never happen to me.
I also remember people's birthdays because of this. Sara's is July 11 (because 7-Eleven), another friend's is March 14, and another's March 15 (Ides of March!).
One year I even knew my former crush's birthday, because of course I did. January 29.
I texted her happy birthday morning of.
She replied, "Thanks! But it's tomorrow."
I recoiled from my phone. It was January 28.
I considered making something up - "oh, I got confused; Facebook told me it's tomorrow and I misread" - but just said, "Oops. Well, I hope it's a great day."
I didn't used to like you or anything. Oh my god, I'm so awkward.
But of all birthdays I remember, I definitely know my parents'. Since I'm in my mid-twenties, I try to send them birthday cards and act like I am the adult I am who has to go off their health insurance in nine months. Also, my dad reminds me because he never wants me to forget my mom's. What a guy.
My dad's, my brother's, and my birthdays also always fall on the same day of the week each year. This means my dad's birthday was a Friday this year. And I know his birthday is the exact middle of July.
Flashback to me on July 17. I am sitting on the toilet in my apartment because that's when I'm most likely to be on my phone, and I see the date on my phone.
Oh my God.
I forgot my dad's birthday.
And it wasn't yesterday. It was two days ago!
Oh my God.
What do I do? Am I the worst child? Did my dad notice? How did I forget?
My dad is the sort of parent who loves his children. His greatest joy is us. He shows pictures and shares our accomplishments with his coworkers. We are his pride. And I spurned it all.
Could I still be his high-achieving, successful, handsome, sweet, Christian son? What have I done?
Then the worst part hit me (I had left the bathroom by this point): I called my dad on Friday, on his birthday. I called him - and didn't say happy birthday. He told me he had taken the day off, I didn't ask why, and we just chatted about family vacation. And then I said I had to get off because my mom was calling on the other line.
HOW HORRIBLE WAS I!
And why didn't my mom remind me, "Did you say happy birthday to your dad?"
But crisis control: how do I address this sin? Do I call him immediately and say happy birthday two days late? "I just saw the date"? And how had I just seen the date? I'm not a second grader who lives by the days of the week. I use my phone everyday.
Well, I couldn't call him right now. I had to run to yoga class. Did this make me a worser sinner?
I called him that afternoon. My friend and I debated before I called if I should draw attention to my faux pas (is "faux pas" even an accurate description of forgetting your parent's - aka your life-giver's - date of birth?). Maybe, we reasoned, he remembered I called and omitted the detail I forgot to say HBD? Obviously I only would call on his birthday to say happy birthday, but maybe, if he did remember my omission, he thought I just got so swept up in conversation, where our family was going in August, that I overlooked congratulating him on reaching 60?
My friend: "You forgot his 60th birthday?"
Who is anyone to judge?
Personally, I don't hold grudges when my friends forget my birthday. Then again, my own blood has never forgotten my birthday. Maybe my dad would still give me gas money when I visit home. I would be the prodigal son.
When my dad answered, I immediately blurted, "Dad, I realized I totally forgot to say happy birthday Thursday when I spoke to you. I just saw the date, and I'm so sorry, but happy belated birthday."
And as most dads do, he told me it was all fine. He was just glad to hear my voice now. And he loved me, I love him, too, and "you're right, this week has been crazy." Probably not justifiably crazy enough to forget your birthday, but I "am working on my dissertation proposal" and etcetera. "How was your birthday, though?"
I don't have a moral for this saga. Except, maybe, my dad should get Facebook so then I get notified and/or see everyone else wishing him a happy birthday and can act like I totally remembered.