Big Babies

When I was in second grade, there were two kids in my grade who were only two years old. At least that’s the way a teacher introduced the two boys who stood in front of the classroom looking like they were going to sully the diapers I instantly envisioned them wearing.
“This is Googoo,” she said, placing her hand on one boy’s chunky shoulder, “and this,” she said, smiling at the other boy, “is Gaga. Googoo and Gaga are both two years old!”
Googoo and Gaga squirmed uncomfortably. It was clear they needed their dipies changed.
This is stupid, I thought. Those kids are bigger than I am. Maybe I’m secretly only two years old, too!
What the hell was all this about anyway? Didn’t they just tell us in health class that girls mature faster than boys? Then why were these toddlers so huge?
Well, as it turned out, it was our school’s way of educating us about Leap Year. Yes, the two boys were being paraded from classroom to classroom on February 29, 1972 for this madcap charade. They would stand in front of the class, the teachers would introduce them as two-year-olds, they would squirm and look at the floor, and all the kids who were four times their age would gasp and stare and wait for the overgrown babies to open their mouths and whine, “Me wanna see Ses’me Stweet!” And in that very sensitive and considerate fashion, each class in my school, in turn, would learn about the wonder and hilarity of Leap Year.
“So you see, class,” my teacher said, “Goo and Ga aren’t really two years old. They’re eight years old, just like many of you in this room! It’s just that they don’t have a real birthday each year, because thanks to Leap Year, February 29 only comes around once every four years.”
Someone (no, not I; I was too busy marvelling at the very tall and surprisingly alert ersatz two-year-olds) raised her hand and bravely asked the question the rest of us were too timid or scared to ask. “So … uhmm … when do they … have a … birthday?”
“Well, they really don’t,” the teacher explained, “since there isn’t a February 29 every year. So they can choose between February 28 and March 1!” She looked around the room at our quizzical faces. “Isn’t that fun!?” she said. “How many people get to choose their birthday!” (And how many get to choose to be humiliated in front of a bunch of real, bona fide eight-year-olds!?)
So why say that they’re only two years old? I thought. They’re eight. What’s the big deal? And you know what, the February 28 thing doesn’t really make sense. March 1 is really the February 29 of the non-leap years, if you think about it. This is so stupid!
I wish I could wish Goo and Ga a very happy birthday today or tomorrow, 31 years later, but alas, their birthdays don’t exist until next year, when they will both be ten years old. Ten and paunchy and balding. And wishing they were 84 already so they could legally drink themselves into oblivion.
(But at least they’ll be able to drive when they’re 64! Just in time to start dating!)
Happy Non-Birthday, Goo and Ga, wherever you are!