Thirty-five

I am in my month of melancholy. It often lasts between Christmas and a week after my birthday (today.) There are several phases of quite reflection on what I have achieved or never accomplished. People find me caught replaying the memories of the best moments followed by the fear filled thoughts of being forgotten again.

I would be the luckiest guy in the world if getting drunk or having a nice bender with the boys would do it for me; but as most people who celebrate their birth this close to Christmas, Thanksgiving, or New Years will tell you – it sucks. Friends are tired of seeing your ugly mug, have already spent much of their energy pulling things together, or are really focused on getting back to work or school.

Birthday wishes, which are much more selfish than other wishes, include dinner with Lauren Graham, driving a street cleaner for a week, or peanut-butter chocolate ice cream. If the other two don’t happen – I will buy some ice cream and let you know how it turns out.

As my gift to you, here are places to get free stuff on your next Birthday:

ALFY’S PIZZA - free mini pizza
ALL-AMERICAN CAFÉ - free dessert
APPLEBEES - free dessert
AUSTIN GRILL - free meal (register first)
BAKERS SQUARE - free pie
BANDIDO’S [IN] - free entrée
BANJARA INDIAN CUISINE [SUNNYVALE, CA] - free meal
BASKIN ROBBINS - free ice cream treat
BEACHES RESTAURANT - free meal
BENIHANA’S JAPANESE RESTAURANT - free dinner WITH 3 other paying guests
BENNIGANS - free dessert + song
BILL KNAPP’S [MI & OH] - gives adults a % discount equal to age; plus a free bday cake (w/purchase of a meal) during the week of your B-dayBJ’s - Free Pazookie!! (best dessert)
BLACK BRISKEE [BURLINGTON, MA] - free meal
BOB’S BIG BOY - free hot fudge ice cream
BUFFALO WILD WINGS (BW3) - free dozen hot wings
BURGER KING - free kids meal to all kids club members
CALIFORNIA PIZZA KITCHEN - free kids meal during the month of their birthday (register first)
CAPTAIN DIZZY’S CAR WASH - free car wash
CARROWS - free cakeCATTLEMEN’S - free dessert and cowboy hat
CHARLIE BROWNS RESTAURANTS [NJ] - free meal for “Handshake Club” members
CHARLIE’S SEAFOOD [NE] - free meal
CHEVY’S - free dessert and sombrero
CHILI’S - free song
CHIPS N GIGGLES - free meal
CLAIM JUMPER - Free Dessert
CRAZY BUFFET [WESTPALM & TAMPA, FL] - free meal
DENNY’S - free meal (said to be only kids under 10 now)
DESPARADOS MEXICAN RESTAURANT [GARLAND, TX] - free meal
DOCKSIDE RESTAURANT [MALDEN & SAUGUS, MA] - free meal
DUKE’S CHOWDER HOUSE [SEATTLE, WA] - b1g1 coupons (register first)
EINSTEIN’S - free meal
EL CHICOS - free dessert
ERNIE’S STEAKHOUSE - free meal
FAMOUS DAVE’S BARBEQUE - free meal (w/advance signup)
FUDDRUCKERS - free burger
FUNNY BONE COMEDY CLUB [PITTSBURGH, PA] - free cake (party of 5 min.; 2 drink min.)
GOLDEN CORRAL - free meal to Birthday Club members (not just kids!) during month of birthday
GRILLFISH - free meal
HANA JAPAN [DUBLIN, CA] - free meal
HARD ROCK CAFÉ - free dessert
HOMETOWN BUFFET - free birthday cake
HOOTERS - free song + tshirt
HOSS’S STEAK HOUSE AND RESTAURANT [GETTYSBURG, PA] - free cake + song
Houlihans - Free Coupon for an entree next visit(up to a week after b-day)
IHOP- free meal
JOE’S CRAB SHACK - free cake
JT WHEATFIELDS [BUFFALO, NY] - free coupon in phone book
KING BUFFET [CLINTON, NJ] - free meal
LADONNA [MANSFIELD, MA] - free meal
LOMBARDI’S IN BALLARD [SEATTLE, WA] - free meal w/another during month of birthday (register first)
LOTUS - free meal
LUTHERS BBQ - free stuff (varies) for “Great Rewards” members
MACARONI GRILL - free dessert + OPERA-style “Happy Birthday” song
MAGGIANOS - $10 Off purchase of $20 (sign up in advance)
MARIE CALENDERS - free dessert
MAX AND ERMA [OH] - free $5 dessert
MEXICAN VILLAGE - free meal
MOONIES DINER - free meal
MUCKLESHOOT CASINO [SEATTLE, WA] - free sushi dinner + player’s club points
NEWICK’S SEAFOOD RESTAURANTS [SO. NH / SO. ME] - free entrée
NITTY GRITTY [MADISON, WI] - free drink + souvenir glass
OKAYAMA RESTAURANT (in Japan Town) [SAN JOSE, CA] - free meal
OLD SPAGHETTI WAREHOUSE - free meal
OLIVE GARDEN - cake (some say free, most say $$)
ONAMI [WEST COVINA, CA] - free dinner WITH 3 other people paying
OUTBACK - free dessert + song
PANCAKE HOUSE [WINNIPEG, CAN] - free entrée
PAPPA’S RESTAURANTS (PAPPADEAUX, PAPPASITO’S, ETC) - free dessert
PARADISO’S - free mealPERKIN’S - free stack of pancakes
PF CHANGS - free cake or cheesecake
PIZZA EXPRESS [EUROPE] - free meal
PONCHO’S - free meal, dessert & picture
PROVINO’S ITALIAN RESTAURANT - free $10.99 meal and ice cream dessertRadisson (on Portage Ave at Smith St) [WINNIPEG, CAN] - free entree in their 12th floor restaurant
REAL SEAFOOD COMPANY [ANN ARBOR] - free meal and dessert
RED LOBSTER - free slice of cake + song
RICE & COMPANY [PITTSBURGH, PA] - free meal for Robinson Rewards Club members
ROCK BOTTOM - free appetizer for Mug Club members
ROUND TABLE - free personal pizza
SCALINI’S ITALIAN RESTAURANT [ATLANTA, GA] - up to 10.95 off pasta specialties
SHEPARD’S BUFFET [CLEARWATER BEACH, FL] - free dinner buffet w/3 other paid customers
STEAK AND ALE - free mini choco cake
STEAK-N-SHAKE - free dinner for “birthday club” kids
TACO BELL - free combo meal of your choice
TGI FRIDAYS - Free Birthday Dessert
THE 99 [BOSTON, MA] - free meal
THE BARNSIDER’S/DEPOT RESTAURANTS [BOSTON / N.SHORE / PROVIDENCE, RI / ALBANY, NY] - 1/2 off meal + cake & song
THE LOFT [FL] - free meal
THE PALM - 3lb lobster (must be a member/register first)
THE PARADISO [GRAND FORKS, ND] - free entrée + sombrero & song
THE VINE TAVERN - free meal
TODAI SEAFOOD BUFFET - Free Meal or voucher for Meal Next Visit
TONY ROMA’S - free dessert
UP THE CREEK [MARYVILLE, TN] - free meal and dessert
VACCARO’S ITALIAN PASTRY SHOP [MD/DC AREA] - free dessert and drink
WENDY’S - free kids meal to all kids club members
Z’ TEJAS - $15 coupon for the month of your birthday (register first)
ZIO’S - free dessert
ARIZONA SNOW BOWL [FLAGSTAFF, AZ] - free skiing/riding (if they are open)
Auto Zone - Free oil change
BEAR MOUNTAIN OR SNOW SUMMIT - free skiing/riding
BELLEAYRE MOUNTAIN - free skiing/riding
COTTONWOOD GOLF COURSE [SAN DIEGO, CA] - free round of golf
DAVE AND BUSTERS - $5 game card credit
FOOD PAVILION GROCERY STORE - free movie rentalHallmark - 20% off coupon for one item
HARKINS - free movie
HOLLYWOOD VIDEO - free video rental
SAFEWAY GROCERY STORE - free movie rental
SCRUB-A-DUB - free car wash
VARIOUS STRIP CLUBS - free lap dances
VARIOUS TANNING SALONS - free tan
WHITEHALL JEWELERS - free $50 gift certificate

OTHERS:
ARIZONA SNOW BOWL [FLAGSTAFF, AZ] - free skiing/riding (if they are open)
Auto Zone - Free oil change
BEAR MOUNTAIN OR SNOW SUMMIT - free skiing/riding
BELLEAYRE MOUNTAIN - free skiing/riding
COTTONWOOD GOLF COURSE [SAN DIEGO, CA] - free round of golf
FOOD PAVILION GROCERY STORE - free movie rentalHallmark - 20% off coupon for one item
HARKINS - free movie
HOLLYWOOD VIDEO - free video rental
SAFEWAY GROCERY STORE - free movie rental
SCRUB-A-DUB - free car wash
VARIOUS STRIP CLUBS - free lap dances
VARIOUS TANNING SALONS - free tan
WHITEHALL JEWELERS - free $50 gift certificate

If I start now, I think I get through at least half this list today.