Unequivocally Ambiguous

Humorous Stories on Parenting, Culture and Life

Tomorrow is My Fortieth Birthday

by | Mar 15, 2024 | Life | 0 comments

Mistakes were made. Forty Stories. Forty Days.

Petaluma, California. December, 2020. Photo by author. 

They were most grammatical, I think. I haven’t gone back to check. I haven’t really had time to do much other than write and publish.

If you arrived late, I was telling the rest of the group that tomorrow is my birthday, and I wanted to celebrate by writing 40 stories in 40 days. I’m going to cheat a little and say that this is one of those stories. Also, see the announcement of my self-imposed challenge in the article link below.

You are probably thinking, “40 stories? What’s the big deal? I can tell you forty stories in forty minutes.” Good for you. But for me, it wasn’t easy; life happened.

On the very first day of the challenge, my stepdad sustained a very invasive surgery. He made it to the other end.

My mom, being the fearful person that she is, would’ve had you believe he was losing a limb. He didn’t. He only lost an ear.

I feel bad for my stepdad. No one wants to lose any part of their body, but it is not all bad; now, he only has to half-listen to my mom’s neuroses.

Don’t be upset. My stepdad doesn’t need to know about this joke. It will be our earie little secret.

Also, don’t tell my mom; she will give me an earful.

And then there were all the other quotidian, mundane, and heartbreaking things that are just part of life — mine and yours. My girls were fighting common colds and sniffles, the Oscar’s, three work trips, daylights saving time, I lost a dear friend and mentor, allergies, Starbucks launched Potato Bakes and then got rid of them, I ordered Persian Kibbeh thinking it was like the Lebanese Kibbeh until I got it. I realized it wasn’t deep fried, but it was raw ground lamb with a raw egg on top. Even though I feared for my life, I mixed it up, ate it, and, to my surprise, did not die of dysentery.

Despite all that, for forty days, I woke up early or went to bed late and told at least one story a day. I also wrote three articles for my newspaper column and one NSFW essay I didn’t publish, for a total of forty-four stories.

Over the past two weeks, two people have asked me what the North Star of my writing is.

I’m trying to save the world, one story at a time.

I’m kidding.

I’m doing this because it’s fun.

Maybe save the world from agonizing boredom.

I have no larger objective of saving the world. That implies everyone in the world is worth saving. But I know people wear speedos out of the American flag. Speedos in Colombia are known as “Tangas narizonas” (or Big Nose Thongs).

No flag in the world should have to endure such humiliation, not even the Canadian flag.

So, is that guy worth saving?

I don’t know.

I think his ‘tanga narizona’ and his mullet should face judgment and punishment.

But maybe that’s just me.

So, I have no reason to write or tell stories. I do it because I am compelled to. But I also never want to delude myself of a larger purpose. After all, I tell stories of witnessing a chicken eating a chicken, the time I found myself having a drink with a member of the KKK, or how I think Santa impersonators are perverts in costumes.

I have learned many things from this short challenge, and I am writing some short-form lessons in my newsletter, Tell a Tall Tale. If you are interested in the meta of storytelling, art-making, and communication, you can sign up for that here.

In the meantime, as a gift for me, if you’ve enjoyed any of the essays I’ve written, send it to one of your friends who shares our sense of humor. Every once in a while, like a post, leave me a comment, and let me know what you are up to. I’d love to hear from you.

Happy birthday to me!


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