I Have No Idea How to Celebrate Your 6irthday

Hey, so, listen. This is kind of embarrassing, but I was just looking at the list of reminders I keep in my wallet, and I see that your 6irthday is coming up. I know that I want to do something special for you—that’s why I wrote it down on the piece of paper I keep with me at all times and look at whenever I have a free moment in the first place—but, I’ll be honest: If I knew what a “6irthday” is when I jotted myself that note a couple of weeks ago, I don’t have a clue anymore.

I’m not making fun or anything—honestly, I’m not. I’m not trying to suggest that a “6irthday” is something you made up. Because even if it is, it’s not like I haven’t celebrated some ridiculous things over the years. I’ve been to a “bark mitzvah.” I shit you not, when my cousin’s ex-girlfriend’s Cockapoo or Schnoodle or whatever it was turned 13 months, a bunch of us got all dressed up, went to her apartment on the Upper West Side, drank Manischewitz Concord Grape by the bottle, and danced the “howl-ra,” lifting Bone Stiller up on a chair until he bit someone on the wrist, which is when we just moved the party to a bar on the next block. I’ve also attended a “First Cat-munion,” but I’ve never really been able to talk about that with anyone who wasn’t there. Any reason to party, though, right? That’s my point.

Actually, I might not be asking the right person. I know three or four Melissandras, and I didn’t put a last name or initial, which wasn’t very smart of me, I confess. But, on second (third?) thought, I’m not on speaking terms with the other Melissandras I know. I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I was dating two Melissandras at once, and they both found out when I mixed up their Valentine’s Day cards. Another Melissandra is—was—my great aunt, who passed away earlier this year, and the fourth is my roommate’s snake, so this note must refer to your 6irthday after all, so at least we’ve solved that mystery.

Is a 6irthday anything like a Festa das Mocas Novas? You know what I’m referring to? The initiation into womanhood traditionally performed by the Tukuna people of the Northwest Amazon wherein at the onset of menstruation the initiate remains in seclusion in a small chamber constructed for this purpose within the dwelling of her family, and during a period of 4 to 12 weeks she is thought to be in the underworld and in ever-increasing danger from demons known as the Noo, and at the climax of the rite, guests arrive and some don masks, allowing them to become incarnations of the Noo, and for two more days the girl remains in the seclusion chamber, her body painted with black genipa dye as protection from the Noo, and on the morning of the third day, she emerges from the chamber and is then led out into the festivities, surrounded and protected by relatives, who revel with her until dawn, at which time the carousing stops and the girl is given a firebrand by a shaman and instructed to throw it at the Noo, whereupon the power of the Noo is broken, and the Tukuna female is safely entered into womanhood? Or is it more like the “land diving” harvest ritual-cum-rite of passage of the Vanuatu——

Oh, hang on. I’m looking at my note again. I... I can’t believe I just wasted your time with this! You must think I’m a complete idiot. “6irthday”? Seriously? Am I that stupid? God, I’m really sorry. Obviously I meant to write “birthdaq”! And it’s gonna be the best damned birthdaq of your life, if I have anything to say about it.

Matthew David Brozik wrote this and many other short humor pieces, which have been published in print and online by The New Yorker, Adult Swim, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Grin & Tonic, The Big Jewel, and no one.

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