17, plus tax

On the occasion of my birthday, the timeless debate between my “Iranian age” and my “Khaareji age” starts up. For some odd reason that I still haven't been able to figure out, my parents and other Iranians seem to calculate people's age as being already a year-old when the are of the womb. So, whereas I think I just turned 27, they tell me “beesto-haft saalegeet tamoom shodeh, rafti too beesto-hasht.” (You finished your 27th year and entering your 28th).

Excuse me? This may have been cute when I was 8 or 9 but now that I am on the wrong side of my 20s, I don't appreciate people making me out to be older than I am — or at least feel.

First of all, I stopped wanting to celebrate my birthdays since I turned 17. This was the perfect age for me, late enough in my teens to assert my independence, early enough to be excused from any real responsibilities. This was back in the day before my metabolism abruptly came to a grinding halt and I could stuff myself with carbs and sugar all I wanted without gaining an ounce. It was also my most selfish, self-centered age. The world revolved around me, nobody really understood me, everybody was a phony, and I had a unique portal into a higher spiritual and intellectual plane. Holden Caulfield anyone?

My parents' calculation is similar to those annoying, obnoxious people who keep insisting that the new millenium would not really start until 2001. And they may be the same people who correct your grammar when you speak, keep a perfectly updated rolodex and file their taxes on January 1st. They may be right in all those respects. SO WHAT?

As the song goes, it's my party and I'll cry if I want to. Well, I don't think I'll cry. In my case, I think this year I'll forget about bills to pay, careers to advance, and families to start. I will celebrate my 17th birthday.

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