The cat is out of the bag. Today is, in fact, my birthday.

I'd done well hiding this fact from everyone at MI all this time. Alas, astute user DannyBoy saw my birthday entered at that abomination of a website, MySpace, and mentioned it in the forums. So, I've gotten several very kind PM's, IM's and emails wishing me a happy birthday, and a few inquiring why I never mentioned it before.

To answer that question, I'll share with you the answer to ANOTHER question by NeverRembemberUserName:

Mentally Incontinent - A Joe The Peacock Book

Sender's Name: NeverRememberUserName
Sender's Email: (withheld)
Message: Hey Joe! Just wondering what the world famous internet author / Wal-Mart terrorist has planned for his birthday! Hope it's rad (and involves screwing over more Wal-Marts)!

Good question, NRUN!

Well, this year, I'll be spending the majority of it watching over Andrea's adopted little brother, as his mother just passed away last Friday. The viewing is later this afternoon (It's about 2:00 AM right now, and I can't sleep, so this is why you get the TREAT of reading this crap). I'll be dressed in a suit and babysitting a kid who doesn't understand what's going on, and furthermore, is slightly more destructive than the Tazmanian Devil when in tornado form. I also imagine I'll somehow run out of gas on the interstate around the same time a Semi plows into the rear of my new truck.

What's that? A pessimist, you say? Well, let's take a look back at previous episodes of "January 24":

Last year, I literally locked myself into my office and watched movies all day in a vain attepmt to hide from the curse of my birthday.

"Joe," you might be saying mentally while sighing, "Come on. There's no way that your birthday could possibly be that bad. You're overreacting. You don't need to hide away from your birthday."

Well, you're right on one count - I don't need to hide on my birthday, because It doesn't matter where I go or what I do - the curse waits for nothing. Later that day, Andrea came home to announce she'd been in a car accident and the sick cat she'd taken to the vet died in the wreck, and THEN I found out my mom had been in the hospital with a bout of congestive heart failure all day. I didn't know these things until late that afternoon because I'd turned off my cellphone and home phones to hide from my birthday curse.

The year before (2004), we took a ski trip up to Cataloochee, NC (which in and of itself could be considered part of the curse. That place sucks) to escape the birthday blues. I broke my thumb while up there. I came home to find out our first appeal to the courts in the lawsuit over my house and the land (we sued the original owners... long story, book comes out middle of 2006) was thrown out. This was at about the $17,000 mark. We appealed again, which cost $500.00, and when everything came crashing down later that year, we'd sunk over $25,000 into the suit.

In 2003, my birthday itself was 'fine' (some naggingly annoying things happened all day, every 20 minutes or so... You know the kind: Death by 1,000 cuts kinda crap). It was the day after that sucked, as I didn't renew my tags and had a terrible day at work, so when the cop stopped me for doing 30 in a 25 (yes, five miles over... he was a dick), I got beligerant with him. Long story short, he impounded the car and took me to jail. Just because the curse waited a day to spring itself on me doesn't make it any better.

I don't think I remember 2002 very well, because I had been knocked out by a falling bucket full of tools which fell from the roof of my house (where I had been squirrel-proofing the attic) and I spent about three days trying to remember my own name.

2001, I don't want to talk about.

2000 was fun because I spent the entire day in an airport. The airline refused to force a woman to put her infant into her lap so I could get my PAID FOR AND TICKETED SEAT. I spent 14 hours with no cash and no credit cards (they were all with Andrea, on their way to Portland, OR earlier that morning). I was starving and irritable when I finally got on the plane, where I was seated next to a very, VERY airsick little boy. His nerves got the best of him while sitting on the runway before our flight and he puked on me (I know, I know, you guys say I always talk about puke, but that's because there seems to be an inordinate amount of the stuff destined to land or come out of me). Then the flight was delayed due to a runway jam. 7 more hours on a plane with pukey-smelling clothing... Happy 23'rd birthday to me!

You get the point.

I've had knee surgery on my birthday, an ankle surgery on my birthday, two funerals on my birthday... I once got admitted to the hospital for pneumonia after my mom let it slide for a week because she thought I was faking to lay out of school during report card time (don't think ill of her... I'd been doing it since I was 10). In fact, the second of seven times I broke my right wrist was on my birthday when I was 19, after some guy attacked me because he thought I was someone else (this 'someone else' apparently took advantage of his sister sexually. It's an extremely fortunate thing that he figured this out on his own, because I was face-down in the middle of a broken and shattered clothes rack at a Nordstrom's at the time and, as hard as I tried, I couldn't really get the words "I'M NOT WHO YOU THINK I AM" to escape the legs of the pants that were wrapped around my head).

A lot of people will tell you that they hate their birthdays... But I've learned how to just stand back and say "ok, what's going to happen this time?" It's literally become an experiment for me. After 2004's failed "hide from the world" experiment, I've resigned myself to the fact that it simply doesn't matter what the hell I do. So now, I mentally stand back and just watch what happens... It's sometimes amusing, sometimes tragic. But always interesting.