On My 28th Birthday…

Big news this week: Mark Zuckerberg is getting one whopper of a birthday present.  His Facebook IPO could make him worth about 100 billion buckaroos. Not bad for a gift. Psbbt. [shrug] I guess.

But it pales in comparison to all the gifts I got when I turned 28 years old. It was a long long time ago and my memories are a bit foggy, but for your sake, I’ll dig deep and bring them into sharper focus so you can all revel in my good fortune and swim in a cesspool of jealousy.

On my 28th birthday…

I still lived alone and had two tabby cats. They were both indoor cats  (due to a rather misfortunate run-in with a could-be-rabid-but-probably-just-drunk-as-a-skunk skunk).  I woke up that morning and had to clean up their litter box. And boy, howdy! They left me quite the present. I think between the two of them, they joined forces and managed to use up every last speck of litter with what they left behind for me: the world’s largest clump. Took me two shovels and a rake to get that sucker disposed of properly. Happy birthday to me! My special day was starting off with a bang!

Oh, hey there!…woman who brings me my food. I left you a present. Happy birthday. Or whatever. Like I care.

After the kitty cleanup, I had to go to work early. When I was 28, I was working three jobs–each one was exhausting in its own way. One was as a special ed educational technician, one as a developmental therapist for autistic children and the third job to help me barely make ends meet (…hell, sometimes the ends still wouldn’t meet but go in opposite directions) was at a candle store, which shall remain nameless but it rhymes with Hankee Candle Company. I don’t know about Mark Z., but when I turned 28 years old, I had to do actual work on my birthday. Overtime. Loading candles off a truck. Sweating like a pig. A pig that was dipped in french vanilla scented candle wax.  I had worked there for years so I was oblivious to the smell but it was basically oozing out of my pores. At one point you probably could have lit a match under my nose and I would’ve burned for 12 to 18 hours straight.  After a long 12 hour day, I got off my shift, stopped at the local Shop N Save, still wearing my work clothes. People in line started wheezing, coughing, gasping for air. One guy yelled out, “Holy crap! What is that stench? Make it stop, for the love of God, make it stop!” So I grabbed my six pack of Ballantine beer, Extra-Super-Clumpy cat litter, brand new shovel and economy-sized bag of cheese doodles, gave them all a dirty look and cried, “It’s my birthday! Why must you be so cruel?” Then I ran off and left them behind, choking in a pungent cloud of Gardenia mixed with Spiced Pumpkin.

Hey, yeah, boss? Can I take five? I think the candle wax smell has finally seeped into my brain.

After that sad display, I came home and realized a few things. It was my birthday. I was 28. I had two cats. I lived alone. I had exactly 12 dollars and 58 cents in my bank account, my fridge was stocked with nothing but YooHoos and frozen burritos, and I drove a 1992 Ford Festiva that was powered by a lightbulb. I still slept on a futon and my stereo sat on a milk crate. So I began reexamining my life. Finally, I said, what the hell, and went out on a blind double date with a strange guy with a goatee who I met at the candle store. Which leads me to my best 28th birthday present ever.

I bet this is more comfortable than a futon.

My husband (not the guy in the above picture)  who not only moved in with me, but took over the litter box cleaning, threw out my futon, built me a real nightstand, married me and then got me pregnant so I eventually quit all three of my jobs.

So happy birthday, Mark Z. Kudos to you on the IPO thingy dealio.  I hope your 28th birthday was as good as mine.  I hear 100 billion can buy you a lot of cat litter.

100 thoughts on “On My 28th Birthday…

  1. I understand about the cat, and how things like this can really set the tone of a day, escpecially a birthday. I don’t remember my 28th birthday. It doesn’t stand out, so I guess you were meant to remember this day especially. I remember my 16th though. No one remembered it, not even my boyfriend. I sat at the table alone with my mom and a rather apologetic looking cake my mom made at the last minute with the icing melting off it because it was still too hot to ice. It looked like it had been slapped together by a blind dog. It was like watching someone compete in a contest where the winner produced a cake out of say, a hat, or a back pocket, with the whole Lucille Ball inspired flour in the hair and all over the face routine. She sang happy birthday to me, and told me stories of her own girlhood disappointments and how they made her stronger. Poor mom. She was working a split shift and going to night school at the time.

  2. Wow! That could almost be the tale of my 28th birthday. Except I didn’t even have a cat to turn up his nose at my lack of exciting plans.

    Oh, and instead of candles, my 2nd job was answering phones for customer service at a bookstore I’ll just call Narnes & Boble.

    1. Aww, what a sweet birthday! There was a time when I also had the dreaded 3 jobs that lasted the entire day/week and it was exhausting. But I was much younger then, so I would work my jobs and then still go out at the end of the day. Now I’m in bed by 9:30 on a good night. Being old is fun.

      Mark will probably just buy a small country or something and call it Facebooktopia. Why not? What else is he going to do with all that cash? I imagine he already has a boat and sports car.

      1. Too funny, Misty, I completely missed your comment all tucked away under Jackie’s…

        yes, I too would work three jobs, on my only day off I’d actually go OUT at night and dance and drink at some club until the wee hours of the morning. What the hell? That would absolutely kill me now. I can even stay up to watch an entire episode of House without falling asleep on the couch!

    1. I don’t even know why I wrote this today. Oh yeah, my mom mentioned to me she wanted to get herself a cat and I reminded her about the litter box cleaning. I think she’s reconsidering.

  3. What a coincidence. My 28th was depressing as hell too, and I started dating a guy a week later — and married him. No cats, though. He did fall in love with my dog, but claims it was after he fell for me.

    Mark Who????

    1. Seriously? You were just as depressed at 28 and you met your husband? It’s funny, I think it took me to hit rock bottom before I said, screw it, and took a chance and went on that date. I had been on lots of dates before him and was convinced I was going to be a spinster with 100 cats and one giant litter box.

      1. I missed this comment. Oops.

        But yep. 28. Depressing birthday. Better afterwards. My husband was somebody I knew already (had been introduced by an old boyfriend way back) and we met up at a party. I was surprised when he called me, and asked a friend, “ummm, you think this is supposed to be a date???” Apparently, it was!

        I thought I was going to be unmarried for life. But no cats. I hates litter boxes!

        1. I had the same feeling when I was 28. I had just gone on a horrible double date a week before I met Jim. (coincidentally, the other guy on the horrible date was also named Jim) I remember telling my younger brother that I will never date again and there is no man in the entire world who will ever ‘get me’ and I will be doomed to live alone with 10 cats for the rest of my life. Then I went out on another double date with my husband and he told me his fave movie was A Christmas Story and bam, it was all over.

  4. Powered by a light bulb… LMAOROTF!!! You were miles ahead of me on my 28th birthday. I was a maritime cadet, living in dorms, having to wear men’s uniforms and salute pimply faced 21 yr. olds who where a year ahead of me. I had no money, no job, no boyfriend, no prospects, and went home to mom and dad on weekends. Although… I did have a 1986 Nissan Sentra that I had bought new when I gradulated from college the first time (back in 1986).

    And yes, $100 billion would buy a lot of cat litter. But think of all the Reeces and Ben and Jerry’s it could buy!

    1. Oh, Sue, don’t sell yourself short. A maritime cadet? You had much more structure in your life than I did. And your car was infinitely better than my little can of spam. Do you know what a Ford Festiva looks like? A clown car. A very bad looking clown car. The best part was, it only cost me like 15 bucks to fill up the tank and that would last me all month because at night I could plug it in and recharge it.

  5. Hahaha– the cat part is hysterical (and gross)! Cats are so non-plussed by everything. I bet a dog would have made you feel like 100 billion dollars on your 28th birthday! 😉 Take that, Mark Z!

  6. May I just say that I am immensely happy that the guy in the picture isn’t the father of your children. Whew! As for Facebook, I was under the impression that it was on the way out. Poor Mark better cash in while he can. Can you imagine such a figure? How would that conversation go with the local banker I wonder? Mine might need resusitation.

    1. I think you’re right, Facebook is going down. I certainly don’t use it nearly as much as I used to in the beginning. I’m sure that once I delete my FB account permanently, that will be The End of Facebook. How will people go on without knowing what I ate for breakfast?

  7. Curly Carly

    Poor Mark, he has no idea what he’s missing. What a sad life he must lead. I bet he’s never scooped a litter box before. That’s the kind of thing that really fulfills someone.

    1. I know! I feel so bad for the poor guy. Doesn’t he realize that scooping cat litter builds character? What does he have? A pet white bengal tiger that is taken care of by one of his many minions? Psssffft.

  8. singleworkingmomswm

    Oh, gosh, that last pic of the dude under the nails, ouuuuuch! This a great fun, Darla! Sorry, I know it’s in spite of your terrible 28th birthday, but what a laugh! LOLOLOLOLOL! (I know you don’t mind…) 😉

    1. What’s funny is I googled ‘futon’ and this guy screaming in agony on the bed of nails popped up. I think that’s a fairly accurate description of a futon. I used to have a futon couch too. Just as uncomfortable as my bed.

    1. Thanks, Judy. Things changed in a big way after my 28th birthday. Eventually I ended up with two babies, spent years constantly changing diapers, cleaning up messes…hey, wait a minute, my life didn’t change at all!

  9. Why is it that I didn’t realize until now that my husband is also Mark Z.? But yet, not a billionaire. But yet, practically the same.

    Holy crap, why didn’t David Schwimmer come into the Yankee Candle shop on that day? That would’ve made up for everything — that would’ve made your whole year, Darla! Oh, but then you might’ve been in the back eating Spaghetti-Os and missed him entirely. Whoops. Bummer. Wait, did this happen? Never mind, I must be thinking of a Friends episode. My memory blows.

    1. Every time I typed Mark Z. a small part of me thought, “what if he’s related to Angie Z? How cool would that be! Maybe I can hit her up for some money!”

      David Schwimmer did indeed come into the store BEFORE Jim did. Too bad David didn’t stare at me from the tea lights section and come up to the register and flirt with me like Jim did, asking for an extra pack of matches in that super sexy voice. My life could’ve been so different now.

      1. I can’t belive you fell for that “extra pack of matches” line, Darla.

        I can’t believe I missed this post – my reader is screwed up again. I thought you were avoiding me. Again.

  10. I guess fb makes it’s income from selling advertising or selling information about its users. So all we have to do to be equally wealthy as Mark Z is to start writing down what we know about each other and sell it to interested parties. Let me check my record on you….I’ve got….”likes big things in her choice of cat litter, candles,and cheese doodles. ” I think you can look forward to a truckload of orange colored,vanilla flammable kitty litter from Mark Z. for your next birthday. (Way to make a bouquet out of a buncha birthday scents, and glad they’ve been better since then.)

      1. We could probably also make a few bucks creating software that would erase fb’s timeline. You know…for those people who feel the sins of their youth shouldn’t follow them around. (Or would like to dump any faux-pas like fb fights with an ex). OOOOOOoooh, I smell money.

  11. Snoring Dog Studio

    This was one of your best! Hilarious, just hilarious! I’m so happy it all worked out for you. I’m happy you met the man of your dreams. I’m happy that you can remember your 28th birthday. It’s all a big blur to me. All of my birthdays up until I stopped having them.

    1. As much as I complained about the candle smell that was a permanent part of my skin, it is where I met my husband. My kids wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for that job.

      I’ve also decided not to have birthdays anymore. I think it was around my 40th when I realized they just aren’t good for anyone, really.

  12. This. Post. Is. Awesome! i laughed out loud so many times, starting with, “…and swim in a cesspool of jealousy.” I didn’t know you ever worked at Hankee Candle Co.!

    See? Mark Z. may have all the money ever minted, but you got off litter box duty! Suck it, Mark Z.!

    1. And I got a big discount back then. 50% off! Yes! (this was when Yankee Candle was still privately owned and only had 30 stores) But to say I had tons of candles at home is putting it mildly. I was the candle expert.

      By the way, how are you feeling today? Take it easy will ya?

  13. Hankee Candle company … ha ha ha! I can’t go in that place, I can hardly go past it without wheezing. Happy belated 28th; I’m glad to hear it all worked out 🙂 MJ

  14. Currently doing the backstroke in my cesspool of jealousy over the awesomeness of your 28th birthday.

    Your life would make a great Disney movie – the modern day Cinderella singing “Someday My Prince Will Come” as she tidies up the Wankee Candle shop and lovingly scoops well-used kitty litter. And then he arrives! You’d have your own fashion doll and everything! Let’s collaberate on the screenplay, shall we?

    1. You’ve got quite the vivid imagination, Miss Pegolicious! But then again, being swept away from my kitty-litter life by that handsome candle customer DOES sound like the perfect movie…Jim can be played by Brad Pitt and I’ll be played by Angelina Jolie, kinda like a Mr and Mrs. Smith vibe. I think it might work!

  15. Um. WordPress. Yeah you. I went through EVERY SINGLE post in my FEED yesterday, and Darla’s was no where to be found. What is up with the FEED, WordPress? Huh?

    Your 28th birthday sounds exactly like mine, with the exception of cats, litter boxes, living alone and then with a guy, three jobs and candles. I swear, Darla, the story is nearly identical to mine.

    I met Rob that year – I know that much. I had a dog – I know that much. I worked – I know that much. I liked Guinness – I know that much. Yeah. That’s all I got.

    You and Mark Z have a way more exciting life. I am totally swimming in the cesspool of jealousy. Smells like Warm Hearth in here.

    1. The WP feed! grrr! I have a love/hate relationship with it. Actually, more of a frustrating-as-hell one now. As soon as I get someone’s blog back on there, they disappear again. I never know when someone has posted so I have to stalk everyone and really, my stalking is pretty lazy lately.

      You met Rob that year too, huh? 28 seems to be a magical time for both of us…I went from living with 2 cats to living with 2 cats and a guy. He actually moved in with me within weeks of our first date, something totally out of character for me. then he proposed marriage the following month. And they said it wouldn’t last! ha!

  16. You are freaking HILARIOUS. I’m so glad I didn’t miss this one as I’ve been really blue this week. Now, go enter the dress contest at Walking Papers–and please write something FUNNY!!!
    x, Suzanne

  17. Darla, it’s one among my most favorite posts in your blog. No not only because it was hilarious or funny but the way you ended it. At the end, those few words about your husband turned the laughter in my face in to a smile.
    12days left for my 27th birth day,. So I can tell you if my 28t birth day would be as good as yours or not after 1 year and 12days exactly. 🙂

  18. Hmm, I wonder what my 28th will be like? hehehe

    I have such pity for Mark. He may have all the money in the world, but he doesn’t have a special someone and wonderful kids like you do. Right??

    He’ll be just trying to comfort himself buy rolling around in $100 bills and having his butler change the cat litter for him.

    On second thought, that having a butler change the cat litter is definitely worth a lot! hehe

  19. Pingback: Blog of the week & Post of the week-2 « Being Arindam..

  20. Darla, came to this blog through arindam, and i am so glad i did! loved the post and your writing style too. you have a new follower, and arindam (if you’re reading this) maybe you will beat Darla by one year… and your 27th will be as life changing as her 28th. 🙂

    1. Thanks for visiting and subscribing. I’m sure Arindam’s birthday will be great. He’s still at the young age where birthdays are actually something worth celebrating. When he gets to my age he’ll be wishing they would stop already.

      1. Darla till now I have never celebrated my birthday. 🙂 And Sapna I know I can never beat Darla, neither I have any such intention. I just want to learn from her as much as I can. 🙂

  21. When I was a kid I imagined 24 being the age where I’d really start having it together. As an adult I know that’s insane, but it still led to a pretty big bummer of a 24th birthday. “Hey, look at me. I work in a bar and live in a studio. The world is my oyster…”

    1. That’s probably better than the crop of college student today, who, at 24 will be thinking, hey, I work at McD’s and live in Mom and Dad’s basement!

        1. Oh no, Darla! No! It really is pretty scary out there. And my son hasn’t got a clue … nor does my husband who thinks Jacob will be moving out of the house in two years. Yeah, right after we win the lottery.

          1. Haha! I think my kids will be moving out when they hit 35 years old, if I’m lucky.

            I have been applying to on average 5 ed tech jobs a week and have nothing to show for it. I think it’s because the unemployed teachers out there are swiping up all the ed tech jobs! Maine’s job market is horrible right now.

            I’m thinking of trying to get a job blogging for WordPress. You think anyone will bite? I’ll charge only a penny per word!

          2. Absolutely. Feel free to put my name on the top of the list of references.

            And you should charge $1 a word — and $100 per picture. If green plaid is involved the price goes WAY up!

    2. I would say that’s further along than most adults my age, B-man. When I was 24 I was living with my mom and working at a candy store. (yep, I worked at a candy AND a candle store at one point…I have quite the resume.) Granted I didn’t live with my mom for long after coming home from Evergreen, maybe a year until she drove me stark raving mad. God love her.

      1. Rolling On Floor Laughing And Scared The Cat. I suspect Mark Zuckerberg of FaceBook just has Loads Of Money But A Real Dork.

        Amusingly these are apparently “official” Internet acronyms. I highly recommend the following highly informative guide.

  22. Billions sounds amazing but not everything. You got a more meaningful Birthday present. Not just having a husband who will support with love and care but of a future baby that will give you a priceless joy. Happy…awesome 28th B-day!

    1. I’m learning that money really doesn’t amount to much in the end. It’s true that after you have enough money to get your basic needs met (food, shelter, clothing) the rest is just gravy. It all comes down to family and friends and love and that is it. Thanks for your comment, island traveler.

  23. And you converted to a dog person. Funny, 28 was a huge turning point for me too. It was all good except that’s when I started smoking, that was a bit silly.

    1. I think I was always more a dog person. I only had the cats to keep me company I think as I lived alone for years. Ok, I did love my cats, I admit! Now that I have no pets, I know if I ever get another one, it will be a dog.

      And you smoke? Still? Oh, no, no, no Joe. You must quit. It’s for your own good. I smoked here and there in college. My husband used to smoke, right up until I met him. He knew he couldn’t keep the habit if he wanted to stay with me. Once in awhile I will get a craving for a cigarette but that’s only if I’m drinking. Sometimes I’ll want a cigar. Other than that I don’t miss it at all.

  24. Just found your blog, and you are awesome! Meanwhile, I thought this was going to be a post about remaining in your late twenties forever, even if it meant your stereo never got a proper shelf…

    BTW, what in the world is a trackback????

    P.S. Do you still have cats or is your hubby a dog person?

    1. Hey there and welcome! Yeah, I finally left my 20s and 30s in the dust. I don’t even own a stereo anymore, just an iPod.

      A trackback is just when another blog links to your blog. (I hope that’s what you’re asking)

      I do not have any pets anymore. I am definitely a dog person. One day I’d like to get another dog but my kids are too afraid of them.

  25. BING! There it is. Okay, Dar, are you hating that I took you up on this challenge yet? Hope you’re have a great weekend. Mine’ll be better when my “work” is done, which I haven’t even started ’cause I need to play my Maineiac game…

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