28 Hippos and 28 Birdies


When I turned five, I had a party. My mother set up a whole bunch of games. I only remember one. There was a pot with a prize beneath it. I was blindfolded and given a spoon. Down on my knees, I shuffled around, swinging.


When I turned seven, I was in love with a girl named Rachael. For some reason, days before my birthday, I found myself crying, crossing her name off the list of invitees. I don’t remember why, but I remember I couldn’t figure out how to spell her name.


When I turned Nine, my father hid notes around the house. Many of them. One of them said “Hippo Birdies.” To this day, when someone says “Happy Birthday,” I think, “Hippo Birdies.”


When I turned fifteen I went to Seven-Eleven. I went to the man at the counter. He had a hat and a chin strap. “It’s my birthday! can I have a free slushy?” I asked, giggling. He looked at me, slack-eyed. “A small one,” he said.


When I turned eighteen, it was midnight. I went to the store to buy a cigar.

“I.D.” the man said. He was older, wore glasses. I gave him my I.D.

“What time were you born?” he asked.

I frowned. “Uh, I don’t know,” I told him.

He shrugged, a powerful shrug. “Oh well,” he said, putting the cigar back.


When I turned twenty-one, I gave a speech at the top of some stairs. Someone hit me with a cake. I jumped off the stairs. My friend D caught me.


When I turned twenty-two-three-four, I drank. Yet on each of them, I woke up the next day to a voice-mail. My mother, and whoever was close at hand, sang, utterly tuneless.


When I was turned twenty five, I told my students my birthday was a convenience store. They thought, hard, guessed a while. Eventually, I told them, Seven-Eleven! I laughed, they didn’t. They were learning British English.


When I turned twenty-six I was on a lot of drugs. I woke up the next day. A woman stood over me.

“I’m leaving,” she said.

“What are you doing here?” I asked her.

She looked down at me, slack-eyed.

“Nice,” she said.


When I turned twenty seven, I was in Boston, I was taking a course, staying on the floor of my brother’s dorm. I was up at seven-a.m. On my way into the subway, I stopped to check that my bag was closed. I turned. A girl was walking towards me. She was wearing green sunglasses.

“Hi,” I said.

“Hi,” she said, passing.

I caught up.

“I held the door for you the other day,” I told her.

“Oh?” she said, before running to the other side of the street. I watched her go along the same direction I was. I didn’t want to run after her, like a psycho. So, I walked, fast. I watched her go, she walked fast, too. My legs were longer. I made it to the end. The crosswalk was green. I passed and found myself in front of her.

I slowed down, casual. She came up beside me. She frowned up at me.

“I could have sworn my way was faster?” she said, more to herself.

I looked back. I shrugged, out of breath.

“Guess not.”

She was taking the subway in the same direction as me. She spoke German, liked math–a lot. We laughed. I told her it was my birthday. She asked how old I was.

“Twenty-seven,” I told her.

“Wow, you’re almost thirty!” she told me.

I wanted to be offended, but she said it with a smile. And, even at thirty, I could walk much faster than her. So, there, I thought.

She got off. I didn’t get her number.

That night, I had one beer down the road. I was in-air-mattress by ten.


Today, I am twenty-eight. Now that, certainly, is almost thirty. I feel heavier. But, at least, no one gives a damn what time I was born.

29 replies to “28 Hippos and 28 Birdies

  1. I’m not sure if it is actually your birthday or if it’s just part of the story but if it is then happy birthday! Also, obviously the whole post is great as always but I really loved age 27.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you. Yes, it is. I wasn’t originally thinking of a birthday post but then Nikita asked me if I was going to write a birthday post and it gave me this idea. As for 27, that is a story I’ve wanted to write for a while and will most likely elaborate on it at some point in the future.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. I can’t remember turning 28. I presume I did in order to be heading for the 70s. If it is your birthday then Hippo Birdies. If it’s not your birthday but just part of a beautiful fiction then Hippo Birdies as well.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Yes we have 7/11 stores here as well. But why is the eleventh day of the seventh month written as the 7th of the 11th? Surely you go day/month/year. Not month/day/year. It really doesn’t make any logical sense to me.

        Liked by 3 people

  3. Happy birthday!!! Altough it might not be your birthday. Fantastic birthday story anyway! I puzzled about the 25. a lot. I go the convenience store, but I searched for a relation from 7/11 to 25. Well I know never the date of the days….sometimes I have even to think about the year. And haha! we played also “pot-hitting” and “treasure-hunt” on birthdays. I love all these little birthday events in your story…very personal. Hopefully the 29. birthday will be a great happening again, this one seems not to be very happyhippos. Even the candles do not want to celebrate. Good night “flash”, have a nice birthdaydream.


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