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Daily Pilot

Carnett: Member of the in-between generation says: What birthday?

By Jim Carnett

1:49 PM PST, January 20, 2014

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It's my birthday this week, and I intend to ignore it.

I have the right!

I'll close my eyes, plug my ears and sing "la la la la la!"  Whoosh!  See. My birthday's gone.

Call it denial.  Call it anything you like.  But this birthday isn't going to register on the Carnett Richter Scale of Birthdays.  Not like that momentous first birthday did, way, way back. Or the one 35 years later when my beautiful wife, Hedy, surprised me with a huge birthday bash. Or the 65th when Hedy threw another fête and most of my living friends and relations showed up.

But, sorry folks, I'm not into it this year.  It's my intention to let this one glide by without notice.  A freighter in the night.

Just so you know, this birthday is one of those extremely high two-digit numbers that end in nine.  That means next year another big Blank-Oh will confront me.  I handled the "big" three, four and five-ohs with aplomb.  But this birthday is in the upper regions of the Sumerian 1-10 number scale, and the atmosphere there is so rarefied that I may swoon.

Next January –- given that the Earth still orbits the sun and God grants me breath — I'll come face to face with the big 7-0!

Oops, there I've just divulged my actual age.  How clever of me.  I've lately learned that there's a scary inverse relationship between accumulating birthdays and shedding IQ points.

So here's the word on Birthday 2014: I choose to mock you, laugh at you and generally not take you seriously — you faded, bloated, two-bit carousel pony.  

That felt good.

You're just a number –- albeit, in my case, a very high one –- but you'll have no influence over me (other than causing me to produce this 700-word screed).  

Next year?  That's another matter.  I have a feeling 70 is going to arrive on the scene much like Hannibal and his infantry, cavalry and elephants squirting through a Carpathian pass and into an Alpine valley.  I'm afraid the debacle will be beyond my avoidance.

Now that I've gotten this out of my system, permit me to give you my birthday back story:

I was born 69 years ago at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, just a few months before the cessation of World War II.  Though my parents lived with my grandparents on Balboa Island, I was not born at Hoag Hospital.  Hoag would not be around for several more years.  

Sixteen miles up Jamboree Road — a 30-minute excursion past orange groves in a '42 Packard — St. Joseph boasted the nearest delivery room to Balboa Island.

I was a direct product of the great American military mobilization of 1942.  To put it simply, without World War II, my GI daddy from San Francisco and civilian mama from Coffeyville, Kan., would never have met at Santa Ana Army Airbase. Ergo, I wouldn't be here today — nor would my four children or eight grandchildren.

I arrived during that ungenerous four-year period between the little recognized silent generation and the much-ballyhooed baby boomers.  I felt a bit like the Bosphorus, that narrow straight between Europe and Asia.  

And though I thought for decades I was a boomer, I wasn't.  I wasn't Europe and I wasn't Asia. The silent generation ran from 1925 to 1942.  Baby boomers were officially hatched between 1946 and 1964.  

As a January 1945 baby, I fit no category.  I might as well have emerged from under a rock.

The cry of my lost generation of '42, '43, '44 and '45 (with apologies to The Bard and others):  "Are we chopped liver?  Are we dumb beasts?  If you prick us do we not bleed?  If you tickle us do we not laugh?"

What am I?  

Frankly, I dunno.  My two siblings are boomers.  Exactly how we differ I'm not certain.  Officially, I guess I'm a 'tweener, betwixt two tectonic plates.

Now, with my 69th receding in the rearview, I needn't worry about 70 for 11 and a half months.

Oh, joy!  La, la, la, la, la.

JIM CARNETT, who lives in Costa Mesa, worked for Orange Coast College for 37 years.