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Berger’s Burg: Everyone forgets Alex on Father’s Day

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On my very first birthday, my rich uncle sent me a Father's Day gift - a box of cigars. On my fifth birthday, my kindergarten teacher celebrated my birthday by presenting me with a "Happy Father's Day" T-shirt, while the class sang "Happy Father's Day To You." And on my 10th birthday, the Post Office addressed all the Father's Day cards for my father to me. Even at those tender ages, I knew I was born on the wrong day, in the wrong month. Thus began the woeful story of my life that haunts me to this very day.Yes, dear readers, if you haven't as yet guessed, I am reaching that time of year when my birthday and Fathers Day, regrettably and coincidentally, coincide, correspond and commingle with one another. Can you guess which of my two celebrations is brutally shoved onto the back burner and totally forgotten, ignored and willfully disregarded, by family and friends alike? It ain't "Dear Old Dad's Day."Why is it when Father's Day and my birthday simultaneously roll around each year, my kin, my loved ones and my own flesh and blood, remember to forget my birthday. To add insult to injury, they are oblivious to subtle hints, such as circling my birthday date on the kitchen calendar, placing written reminders in their shoes at bedtime and humming "Happy Birthday" all day through? No birthday hugs, no birthday kisses, no birthday gifts, for me in celebration of my grand appearance on Earth.Correction! To be perfectly honest, I do receive one special gift, each and every year, in remembrance of my birthday - the bills from Mother's Day.I know I have a swell wife and swell children. My kids always listen to their father. Every year I tell them not to buy me anything for my birthday - and they listen. One year the kids mailed me a birthday present. It was a check for $75. I was very pleased that they remembered my birthday. They then asked me to sign it and give it back.On my last birthday, Gloria was very thoughtful. I told her I wanted to have breakfast in bed. She smiled, said "yes, dear," and went straight to work. She placed a cot in the kitchen!When it comes to giving gifts on my birthday - it seems my family stops at nothing. The problem is they give until it hurts and they are extremely sensitive to pain. But my dilemma is not unique. I know a guy who keeps forgetting his twin sister's birthday.All in all, I think birthdays are very important celebrations in people's lives. I make it a point to give other people a present on their birthdays. I give thoughtful gifts like fruit liquors. They seem to enjoy the fruit and the spirit in which it is given.I never forget to keep one of the bottles. I wrap it in bright, glossy, gift paper, and enclose a birthday card, to present to myself. I stand in front of a mirror with two smiling pictures of myself, one in each hand, to make it appear there is a party going on. We all cheer when I receive the present. I always enjoy the fruit and the spirit in which it was given.Now don't get me wrong, ignoring my birthdays isn't that bad. How many people have the opportunity to sing "Happy Birthday" to themselves every year?Many years ago, I once bit the bullet and gave myself a real birthday gift - a trip to Las Vegas. I lost all my money, lost my airline ticket, and lost my credit card. But fortunately, not my good-luck charm.Last year, I received a solitary birthday card from Lillie Lundahi of Little Neck, who responded to my lament imploring readers to send me a birthday card. It read: "A happy birthday to you and me." I bronzed the keepsake, hung it on my office wall, to be cherished forever.Father's Day is another story. I know it is coming when my sons, Jon and Vance, ask what size cologne I wear and Gloria gives me the same present every Father's Day - a list of presents she wants for her birthday.Lady Luck smiled on me when I won an iPod at a raffle last month. I called my two sons together and asked "who should have this present? Who is the most obedient? Who never talks back to his mother? Who does everything she says?" The two voices answered in unison, "You can have it, Dad, you earned it."Last Fathers Day was really something. I was awakened early in the morning by a telephone call from Vance, who was out of town on business. He wished me a happy Father's Day and then he stayed on the phone for about an hour, reminiscing about his childhood and the great times we had together. Then, when we were ready to hang up, Vance said six words that I will never forget for as long as I live. He said, "By the way, who is this?"I once overheard a sales lady ask Jon how he would like to pay for his purchase of a new computer - cash or charge. He smartly answered, "Dad!"I gathered my sons one day for a lesson on the real values of life. "My sons," I began. "I am a self-made man and ...." They quickly interrupted, "Dad, there is one thing we like about you. You always take the blame for everything."Readers, my life in June is so one-sided. If you want to balance the equation, you can do so. Simply whisper "Happy Birthday To Alex," on June 18. I will get the message.And fathers, be good to your children. If Hitler's father had been nicer to him, things might have turned out differently.Reach columnist Alex Berger by e-mail at timesledger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 141.

Posted 7:07 pm, October 10, 2011
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