The year 30 started very strangely, in the form of a dream. It was straight out of the movie "Aliens." If you've seen it, there are these giant bugs with acid for blood that body-snatch a group of space marines one by one to cocoon them in order to lay eggs in their chests. Except it wasn't a nightmare. You see, I wasn't fleeing the aliens, I was one of them, and was having a grand 'ol time abducting and cocooning space marines. Unfortunately, one of the marines shot me, and I was sprawled out on the floor mortally wounded, when suddenly the dream transferred. I was no longer a mortally wounded alien, I was a mortally wounded Hamlet on the floor of Elsinore Castle in the final scene of Shakespeare's play, giving my confession to Horatio. Except it wasn't Horatio I was talking to, it was the ghosts of Obiwan Kenobi and Yoda from Star Wars. And wasn't really a confession, more a series of one-liners from classic Monty Python skits. "I'm not dead yet." Then I woke up. Spent the rest of the day working and watching the stock market crash some more.
Typically, for birthdays, I'm not a big party type of person. I'd rather just hang out, receive congratulatory phone calls that my heart continued pumping blood for another year, and maybe have a piece of cake with cousins. But 30 is big, like when your car hits 100,000 and the odometer rolls over. So I decided to organize something sufficiently modest but still momentous. I'm not much of an event planner, having learned in college as a committee chair for Hillel that it's usually much more of a burden than it's worth. A big bowling bash seemed to fit the bill, so I sent out emails two weeks in advance. Plenty of people told me they would be there. I had about fifteen confirmed and fifteen maybes, so I figured on twenty people. I even went to the alley a day before and tried to negotiate a group deal.
Twenty four hours before B-day, I sent out an email and a series of SMSes to remind people. Then the calls started coming in.
"Hey, I'm sorry, but I have to work that night..."
"Ephraim! Happy birthday! Look, I'm sorry but I just vomited and..."
"You know, I'd love to be there, but my family is.."
Each explanation was plausible on its own, but somehow, In rapid succession, everyone who had pledged to be there cancelled over the course of a few hours. And I mean every single last one of them. It was really amazing, like some sort of divinely orchestrated inverse miracle. I went out to the bowling alley and waited to see if any stragglers from the "maybe" column who hadn't responded, but nobody showed.
What a ridiculously lousy way to start your 30's! Was this some sort of bad omen? I looked at my watch: 6:30 PM. Let's see, that would be 8:30 AM in California. I was born at 8:39AM. I'm still 29! It wasn't my 30's getting in their first punch, it was my 20's getting in their last knocks! As I was walking out the door, I bumped into Baruch, one of the maybe's whom I had texted the night before, walking in. "Where are you going? Where is everybody!?" he asked.
"We're it budd!"
Then the phone rang. It was Gali.
"Where the [expletive deleted] is the [expletive deleted]-ing bowling alley?"
To make a long story short, I got my worst score ever, not much higher than my age, and Baruch was a pro bowler, so that we agreed that the contest would be between Baruch's score and Gali and my combined scores. Gali and I still lost by 40 points, but I didn't care. For quite a while, I've really been dreading leaving the 20's but now I'm glad to be out of there. The 30's promise to be far more rewarding.