I get to post a blog on my birthday! Does that mean I want to, or have to, write about my birthday? At this stage of my life (age 68), it might be just as well to walk past it whistling, as though I’m passing a graveyard at night. I guess there will be a small celebration with those of my family who are nearby (wife, son—possibly sons— daughter and fiance, grandson). There will be a cake, presented on an antique glass pedestal cake plate that has been in my family since the 1930s.
We have a picture of my grandfather with that plate before I was born and a picture of me standing (barely) next to it on my first birthday. I always tell my wife that I will wash the plate and put it up after we’re done with it. Not that I don’t trust her. It’s just that, if anything should happen to it, I don’t want the blame to fall on anyone else. And not because of its potential monetary value, but just because it’s been in my family for so long.
I don’t think of myself as one who places high value on objects. When I think about that plate, and other items I’ve inherited from my mother’s family, I don’t immediately think of their monetary value. (Similar plates in antique stores are priced at around $150.) What I cherish is the connections those objects represent—connections with my mother, with my grandparents, with my cousins. Those connections are particularly important to me now because my parents and grandparents are no longer living and I am seven hundred miles away from my cousins and their extended families. I’m the only member of my family who has spent more than half his life on the “wrong side” of the Ohio River.
Aside from being my birthday, September 23 is noteworthy in other respects. Depending on which astrological chart you consult, it is the first day of Libra or the last day of Virgo. It is “on the cusp” between the two signs. I don’t buy into astrology but I do wonder if that might explain why I sometimes find myself torn between two options. Did I mention that I was an English/History double major in college? And my doctorate is in Classics with Historical Emphasis. Mickey Rooney was born on September 23. That might explain all those wives.
The list of people born on September 23 contains some impressive names. The Roman emperor Augustus and the Mongol emperor Kublai Khan were both born on this date. So was Bruce Springsteen. I’m sure you can find famous people born on your birthday, but I doubt if many days can lay claim to two emperors and a “Boss.”
Athletes are fond of 9 and 23. Consider this short list of those who’ve worn #9: Ted Williams, Gordie Howe, Bobby Hull, Reggie Jackson, Mia Hamm, and Roger Maris. For #23 we can start the list with Michael Jordan, Ryne Sandberg, LeBron James, Don Mattingly, and Kirk Gibson. My wife’s brother was born on September 23, as were one of her uncles and two cousins. Sometimes I think she married me because my birthday would be easy to remember.
There is a curiosity called “The 23 Enigma.” This is the belief that everything is connected to the number 23. To start with, all humans have 46 chromosomes—23 from each parent. Shakespeare was born on April 23 and died on April 23. His wife died in 1623. Julius Caesar was stabbed 23 times (but according to the earliest source we have, it was 35 times). You can read an interesting piece about this at: http://askville.amazon.com/number-23-special/AnswerViewer.do?requestId=4060915.
Have you ever wondered why September, which means 7, is the ninth month of the year? And what about October (8), November (9), and December (10)? Well, the Romans first started their year in March. About 150 BC, for reasons we can no longer discern, they switched to January as the beginning of the year. July used to be Quintilis (5), and August was Sextilis (6). Those months were renamed in honor of Julius Caesar and Augustus. A good thing, too. Celebrating our independence on the Fourth of Quintilis just doesn’t have that ring to it. The Roman emperor Domitian tried to stick one of his names, “Germanicus,” on September. That didn’t last any longer than he did, I’m happy to say.
So, enjoy this auspicious day. What I’m most looking forward to is the return of “Castle” tonight. We’ll find out how Beckett reacts to Castle’s marriage proposal.