Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Leap for Joy and Happy Birthday!

Every four years, we have a February 29th.

Along with the Presidential Elections and the Summer Olympics, it’s a quadrennial occurrence.

It’s called Leap Day, because it only happens in a Leap Year. (I happen to think that’s a very unoriginal and uninspiring name for such a rare occurrence. By the end of this column, I’ll probably be able to suggest a neater, tidier name.)

The mathematical formula, in case you’re interested, is this: Presidential Elections, Summer Olympics, and Leap Years all occur in year numbers which are evenly divisible by four (4). For example, years like 2000, 2004, and 2008. Also, 1996, 1992, 1988, and 1984. And 1980. Also, 1932, 1880, and 1776. But not the year 1440, because the Gregorian Calendar had not yet been invented. For that matter, neither had Presidential Elections.

My most significant observation regarding Leap Day (or Least Day, as I’m leaning toward naming it) is that those persons who happened to have been born on that date only have real birthdays every four years. And that’s a shame.

Birthdays are great. Birthdays are every individual’s one special day of the year where they get to feel special and celebrate themselves, if only in their minds. Your very own personalized special day, every year… unless you were born on Cheap Day, as I’m now toying with calling it.

Statistically speaking, only one in every 1461 people should expect to be born on Sleep Day, which is my latest thought on a fitting name for the occasion. (In reality, I doubt if any of them expected to be born, period. Usually, the whole thing is a big surprise to the newborn. But I ramble.)

Here’s the point: these people, born on this yet-to-be adequately named day which occurs only once every four years, constitute perhaps our smallest, most discriminated-against minority. It’s time to take a stand for them!

How would you feel if you were the only kid in your third grade class who never had their birthday celebrated? How would you feel if, at some tender young age, Mom and Dad had to take you aside and feed you some malarkey about “borrowing” someone else’s birthday? How would you feel if you were turning 50, but had only ever had twelve real birthdays in your life?

There is an entire opera, Pirates of Penzance, written around this premise – a youngster apprenticed to the pirates until his 21st birthday, who when preparing to strike out on his own, learns that his masters intend to exercise a loophole and keep him until he’s, like, 84, all because he was born on Bleep Day.

There’s just no justice.

Here’s my plan to help balance the scales. I think, these Feb. 29th babies should be allowed to celebrate an entire week on those rare occasions when it does roll around.

And, of course, the rest of us should celebrate along with them! How does a week off at the end of February every four years sound?

This year, I’d like to lead the way in wishing Happy Birthday to this smallest of minorities.

Enjoy the day, or the week, or the entire month if you want to. Celebrate. Have a party. Invite the whole gang, and have a blast. (No adult beverages, however, until your 21st birthday!)

Happy Birthday, and Happy Leap Day… or, as I think I’ll start referring to it, “February 29th!”

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