To me, birthdays really are special days.
Not because you celebrate the day of your birth, but because it’s the one day a year when you can do whatever you want to do.
The other 364 days you have to play by everyone else’s rules, but on your birthday, that’s your chance to say, “Hey, I’m going to wear pajamas all day and eat a whole box of Pop Tarts while watching the entire second season of ‘MacGyver’ and there’s nothing you can do to stop me!”
If that’s your thing.
And as much as I was looking forward to all of the other weekend festivities that I had planned for my birthday this year, I knew there was only one thing I wanted to do on my actual birthday.
I had been anxiously waiting to see “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” starting Brad Pitt since I first heard about it back in 2004. Unfortunately it was only released to one theater locally back in October and only ran for maybe two weeks. I missed seeing it then but I had been diligently waiting for the February 5 DVD release date ever since.
Knowing it would be in high demand, I went up to the nearest Blockbuster video store on the Tuesday that it came out and I planned on renting a copy then and just waiting until Sunday, February, 10 – my birthday – to watch it.
But I was stunned when I got to the store.
There were only two rows with copies of the film on the shelf, maybe 12 copies total, and they had all been rented out at the time.
Although I was surprised, I wasn’t necessarily concerned because I still had a couple of days to secure a copy.
I officially hit concerned when there were still no copies on Thursday and I hit worried when there were still no copies on Friday. I think I touched panic the first time I checked on Saturday afternoon and I went into full-fledged freak out when they still didn’t have any on Saturday night.
The first time I checked on Sunday – my birthday, mind you– was right after church and when there were still no copies, even my poor Girlfriend could start to see the wheels coming off of this one.
Looking back now, I honestly don’t remember how many video stores we went to that afternoon. I lost count when we hit double digits.
We even tried some other video store chains but were shocked to find out that Blockbuster had apparently secured some sort of exclusive rights to the film because no other store even had it in stock. So Blockbuster basically owned me as they were the only place to carry it and as they decided to only rent out a limited amount of copies.
I have never been more proud to be an American.
It was getting late but I knew I just had to try the Blockbuster closest to my house one last time before I officially conceded the night. Seeing how this was the seventh time that I had been in that store in the past six days, I was not surprised when the store clerks recognized me.
I was, however, when they asked for my share of the rent money.
“It’s still not in,” one clerk said before I was all the way in the front door.
“Let me get this straight,” I began spouting. “You’re the only store that carries a popular genre film starring one of the most popular actors on the planet and you only have 12 copies but yet you have a whole shelf of ‘The Game Plan’ starring ‘The Rock’ Dwayne Johnson?!”
I wish I could fully describe the look of confusion and fear on every clerk’s face as I noticed all action in the store had come to a complete stop and all eyes were suddenly on me. It was at this point that I realized it was time to cash in my chips and call off the search.
It was over.
Despondent and dejected, I limped home and suffered through the Grammy awards as a feeble alternative.
And I was ready to count the day a loss until my Girlfriend dryly commented, “Man, now we’ll never know what happens to Jesse James.” After the stroke-like sensation had finished seizing through my body, I could not help but laugh out loud as she slowly started to smile.
It hit me right then that my Girlfriend had not only spent the last day of her weekend traipsing around town listening to me pontificate about corporate short-sightedness, but she still tried to make me feel better at then end of a disastrous day as well.
Then again, maybe not such a bad day after all.