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Birthday bonanza

This is the time of year during which a massively disproportionate number of people I know celebrate their birthday; myself included. I’d love to see some real data on this, but I’ve always suspected it’s because of some weird kind of New Year conception phenomenon (Freakonomists, activate!), or at least a southern-hemisphere Summer Lovin’ phenomenon resulting in a lot of spring babies. Unsurprisingly, it is also the time of year that plays host to a disproportionate number of birthday parties and dinners and whatnot, and for me this yearly ritual began just this Friday with the girlfriend’s own.

Besides the actual weekend, during which I dined out twice and dressed as a pimp once for various celebrations, I spent the better part of the last fortnight trying to nut out a decent present for Jess. Her friends were collectively replacing her aging mobile phone with something more modern, and her parents were rumored to be replacing her aging Discman with an iPod mini, so I was stuck with nada. Those are both the kind of present I would’ve thought of if they hadn’t beaten me to the punch, and though I probably could’ve joined in on the whole parents/friends thing it seemed a little sad. What kind of boyfriend piggybacks on a girl’s parents’ present? A lame one, that’s what. And frankly, I’ve already established myself as the big nerd in her life: I don’t need to reinforce it with technologically-inclined gifts… even if she does need the upgrades.

And if anyone needs forced upgrades, it’s Jess: the closest thing to upgrade-phobic I’ve ever seen, bordering on full-blown technophobia. Her 200Mhz Windows 98 box putters along at a pace pleasantly suited to its 33.6kbps internet connection; the side-scrolling, popup-infested hell that is Internet Explorer 5.0 at 800×600 pixels a harsh but familiar experience… like an old razor that burns you for being too blunt. So too, the lack of a DVD player in the house fazes her not. You might be able to pick one up for forty bucks at K-Mart these days, the advantages over VHS being many and varied, but the unpretentious grain of the video cassette is fine with her. Hell, if it weren’t for being a girl Jess probably wouldn’t have a mobile phone either, but the world stopped listening to people without mobiles circa 1998 as phones became the trojan horse parents needed to keep track of their teenage daughters. Suffice to say I was surprised to hear her parents were getting her an iPod for her birthday, since they’re even more technophobic than she is, but the real surprise came upon my discovery that they’d actually bought her an iriver H10 instead. Oh, the humanity.

Me, I opted for the bulletproof boyfriend gift. Not a large, overblown present but a series of smaller ones: music, jewelry, beauty treatments, some photos of us in cute frames, and uh… new beans for her bean bag.

No, that’s not a euphemism. Happy birthday honey.

Not for naught

It occurs to me, on proofreading that last entry, that I’m entirely unsure about the legitimacy of the phrase “it fazes her not”. Not because it doesn’t make any grammatical sense to negate a clause by putting not at the end of it —we’ve had the construction “can not” in popular use for so long it’s contracted to the common can’t— but because of the word naught.

“I care naught” makes just as much, if not more, sense than “I care not”. Caring naught is literally having no care, there’s no sticky grammatical juggling as there is between “I do not care/I care not”, and yet as a result of the cot/caught merger it’s basically impossible to discern the two.

Damned Americans and their merged vowels.


Clarity strikes, in the shower of all places, and I’m reminded of the four-hundred year old reason I started using the “I care not” construction in the first place:

By my head, here come the Capulets.
By my heel, I care not.

Disregard all that hath transpired here.