David Rensin: On this day in history

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Today is my birthday. No big deal, that. I’m 58 – if you must know. Strange how that number is still like a new taste in my mouth, a taste I have to acquire, like it or not. But not forever. Sadly.

Anyway, I’m not posting this to carp about aging, or re-dyeing my hair, or how I’m a tad tardy on my resolution to be buff by fifty.

It’s much weirder than that ...

My therapist tells me it’s bad luck to be superstitious, but still, I have this fascination with people who are born on my birthday. Doesn’t have to be the same year, but it doesn’t hurt. Why? Read about our appealing qualities in the next paragraph. Why wouldn't people like me/us want to hang out with ourselves?

According to the book, "The Secret Language of Birthdays," which I'm sure someone must have given to me since I wouldn't buy this hocus pocus myself, January 28 is "The Day of Outstanding Achievements." Okay. I'll take that. In fact, every time I look up the secret language of someone's birthday, in this book that I swear just appeared on my living room coffee table, their personalities seem just like what the book describes. Well, not everyone. My wife refuses over and over, categorically, absolutely, no argument about it, in the strongest possible terms, to have anything to do with a date labeled "The Day of Dogged Persistence."

January 28th people are supposed to be gutsy, strong-willed, and driven. Those are our positive qualities. We're also overexcitable, sensationalist, and impulsive. Hmm. Those sound a lot more appealing.

Anyway, when it comes to any birthday, the astrology books and “today in history” web sites list the usual suspects. Here’s what they say for January 28:

Musician-composer Acker Bilk is 79 ("Stranger on the Shore." Cool!) Actor Alan Alda is 72. Actress Susan Howard is 66. Actress Marthe Keller is 63. Actress-singer Barbi Benton is 58. Actress Harley Jane Kozak is 51. Movie director Frank Darabont is 49. Rock musician Dave Sharp is 49. Rock singer Sam Phillips is 46. Rock musician Dan Spitz (Anthrax) is 45. Country musician Greg Cook (Ricochet) is 43. Singer Sarah McLachlan is 40. Rapper Rakim is 40. DJ Muggs (Cypress Hill) is 40. Actress Kathryn Morris ("Cold Case") is 39. Rhythm-and-blues singer Anthony Hamilton is 37. Rock musician Brandon Bush (Train) is 35. Singer Joey Fatone Jr. ('N Sync) is 31. Actress Rosamund Pike is 29. Singer Nick Carter (Backstreet Boys) is 28. Actor Elijah Wood is 27.

You can add: Colette, Nicolas Sarkozy, pianist Arthur Rubinstein, Jackson Pollock, King Henry VII, Arnst Lubitsch, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Claes Oldenburg, and bunch of others who had enough impact to make the list.

That’s right. I want to make the list. That’s not asking for much, is it? Maybe one day. Soon.

In the meantime, while we're waiting, let me share this fantasy I’ve had of hanging out with a few of the people on the list, specifically: Barbi Benton, Sarah McLachlan, Sam Phillips, and Kathryn Morris. Baryishnikov would be all right, too. And, okay -- because although I am all man, I have a strong feminine side -- Alan Alda. I’m just choosing from the living, otherwise I’d include Pollock, Rubinstein and King Henry VII.

But really, it’s the gals I’m thinking of. The rest are just window dressing. I really like McLachlan’s music – call me sentimental – and it’s not only because when I was writing Tim Allen’s first book (“Don’t Stand Too Close to a Naked Man”) in 1994, mostly while sitting his trailer on the set of “The Santa Clause” in Toronto, McLachlan’s first album played about five hundred times. And Sam Phillips is an under-appreciated class act, wife of record producer T-Bone Burnett. I play her CDs more than most. No one like her out there. I’ve seen every episode of “Cold Case” with Kathryn Morris, who I first discovered playing Tom Cruise’s wife in “Minority Report.” She's unusual among female drama characters (great looking, but it's not about the looks, or being buff or buxom, or having robot parts, or speaking to ghosts, or being a non-nonsense lawyer, or streetwise hooker with a heart of gold, or a spoiled teenager. Lily Rush uses her head and heart and gets the job done), in a show that more often than not can be quite compelling. And Barbi Benton? Put aside the facts of my being a Playboy contributing editor since 1981. Now it can be told that in the late 70s I met her once at a party in her post-Hef days and, sidling up to her in a noisy and overcrowded room, I mentioned that she and I not only shared a birth DAY but a birth YEAR. (All while thinking: I'm a man; you're a woman. We're both single adults. It would be like making love to yourself, only not quite. Wouldn't that be, uh, cool .... you get it without my having to come right out and say it, right? )

Then I waited for the sparks to fly.

I’m still waiting.

One can dream can’t one?

I’ve discovered I’m enough of a narcissist to not only want to spend some quality time with these women over a quiet meal -- one on one or as a group -- but to luxuriate together in what I'm certain will also be their fascination with our natal day. I'm counting on them being as infused with the spooky spirit of finding out in which ways we’re alike, and that the differences will make it even more special. Then we can be best friends and talk on the phone all the time. Oh, the mystical web we’d weave, plumbing our creative depths and the crazy coincidence of it all. And our "outstanding achievements." (No wonder we're on a list!)

Or maybe we (okay, I) will discover that this birthday stuff is just hogwash and I should be sending solicitations to the list to do something about our national nightmare (except for Sarah, who's Canadian. We can think of something for her, too). I mean, how far can you carry this birthday and how the stars and planets align stuff anyway? For instance, one of my best friends shares a birthday (Oct 28) with Julia Roberts and Bill Gates and he doesn’t have an impossibly wide mouth or billions of dollars, isn't a former America's sweetheart or the richest dude in the country -- and it doesn't look like either are likely in the future.

How about if I just settle for having written about my crazy little fantasy here – a birthday indulgence?

But hey, if Sarah, Sam, Kathryn or Barbi read this, I’m always up for dinner and cake, on me. I'm sure we'll have lots to talk about.


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