Kevin Page has been thinking about birthdays gone by.
Photo / 123RF
It’s funny how our attitudes to life changes over time isn’t it?
I mean one day you are full of confidence and bravado and itching to see what the world will throw at you
next and then before you know it, you reach a point where risk taking or doing something crazy makes way for a more sensible, balanced approach, albeit with a little injection of craziness to ensure you don’t become boring.
Take birthdays for example.
This past week I had the pleasure of being showered with gifts, hugs from grandchildren, text messages and best wishes galore on Facebook as my biological odometer clicked its merry way towards a certain number starting with a 6.
As I sat there on the couch with a gin, basking in the moment – I thought I’d make the most of it before normal service resumed and I was required to do the vacuuming – I got to thinking about birthdays gone by.
There was my seventh when my mate Glen suggested we all jump off the garage roof at the bottom of the garden holding a sheet as a parachute.
He’d seen it on a cartoon or something the day previously. We’d all be special parachute soldiers and would simply drift down to the concrete below before gleefully running back round to the ladder we’d managed to put up to hand over the sheet for the next partygoer to enjoy the fun.
Seeing as it was my birthday, I would get to go first. I distinctly remember all the boys solemnly agreeing and then standing round below as I readied to jump.
Somehow, a neighbour had spotted what was going on from across the street and had called my mum who came hurtling down the garden path to put an end to the plan.
I recall being embarrassed in front of all my mates and bitterly disappointed I hadn’t been allowed to jump. I was sure there was no danger. I mean, come on.
A cotton sheet, concrete, a 3m drop – or maybe it was 9ft in those days – what could possibly go wrong?
Anyway. It never happened. And the disappointment soon faded as we scoffed sausage rolls and chocolate fingers and laughed when one of the boys was sick from eating too much. Fun times indeed.
Fast forward 14 or so years and I’m at the pub for my 21st birthday.
The boys of London have been replaced by a good number of Kiwi mates and we are on a night out in a pub in the middle of nowhere.
The most apt phrase to describe the event is thus: We were on a bit of a bender. Sensibly, you understand.
The lads had figured a night away in a country pub where we’d all stay would be a good way to mark such an occasion.
There would be no shortage of entertainment (pool, darts, drinking games etc) and we wouldn’t have to drive home and seeing as it was literally miles from anywhere, nobody would get into any trouble.
Well, that’s what we thought.
I don’t exactly recall all the details, but it would be fair to say I was feeling rather, er, “happy” when I wandered off to the loo during the evening’s festivities. Unfortunately, the two cubicles on offer were in use so I slipped out the back door into the carpark.
Here’s where things get a bit hazy.
I know I saw the truck because I went to the other side of it to pee. Some time during this operation I struck up a conversation with a bloke who turned out to be the truck driver and who was about to head back to where he’d come from.
Long story short – essentially, because the intervening six hours have been lost from my memory banks, when the sun came up the next morning I found myself waking up on a bench in a transport yard at the bottom of the South Island.
Inquiries of the stunned bloke in the site office revealed I was, indeed, a very, very long way from home but that both he and I would have a pretty good story to tell our mates when next we saw them at the pub.
I’m thinking he probably saw his mates that night. It took me over a full day to get home.
Thankfully, one of my mates had an aunty living in Invercargill and he made some calls and after an embarrassing wait and drive back to her home where I had to try to explain what had occurred – even though I had no idea – she fed and watered me and eventually put me on a bus.
As I say, fun times indeed.
And so there I was the other day daydreaming and reminiscing (As I do. A lot. As I’m sure you’ve worked out by now) and the Boomerang Child asked whether I’d like to do something special for the big birthday to come next year.
I’m going to have a think about whether I’d like the party she suggested.
As for one of her other suggestions, I’ve already ruled it out.
I definitely don’t want to be marking my 60th by doing a skydive and parachute jump, whether it’s out of a plane or off a 9ft garage roof.