I worked with a woman who was a “Leap Year Baby.” This fact got worked into many unlikely conversations, but perhaps this is just a day in the life of the ‘Leap Year Baby.”
We’d hear about how being born on a day that only appears in the calendar every four years didn’t mean a darn thing.
“I mean, it’s not like I don’t actually turn a year older,” she’d say, and we’d all feel a bit silly somehow, even while not a single one of us had brought her birthday up or were even slightly under the impression that she truly did only get one year older every four years, on Feb. 29. Does anyone think that? Like, even when they’re very young?
Then there were other days, when she complained about being a “Leap Year Baby.” We had visions of a birthday cake being brought out to the family dining room table with candles lit only once every four years.
I’m sure being a “Leap Year Baby” can be maddening. How can it not? It’s the one day that only makes it onto a calendar every four years? Parents and friends and significant others can make the 28th as special as they’d like, or even March 1st, but the fact remains that your birthday — day of birth, the day you came into this world — is officially Feb. 29.
Now, it didn’t take long for bars and nightclubs to start cashing in on the Leap Year gimmick, even if that did mean focusing their attention on a fringe group of people. How many people attend St. Patrick’s day festivities who couldn’t be less Irish and even think of Shepherd’s Pie as something straight out of the Bible?
“Leap year” gimmickry actually all began with the “Leap Year Cocktail.” Its origins date back to the 1930s, and while variations abound, most mixologists would agree that pairing gin with sweet vermouth and some Grand Marnier is the “O.G.” A splash of lemon juice brings the whole thing together, and while I may be fine without that, I somehow do need the lemon twist garnish swimming atop the orangey foam, lest it appear little more than the latest trendy martini.
Naming a drink after this event that only happens once every four years was a dash — pun intended — of genius, and soon “Leap Year” parties would follow.
Well, maybe not soon.
The first “Leap Year Bash” poster I saw was hung prominently in the foyer of a club downtown New Haven in the early to mid-90s. Key to the whole thing was the 29th was on a Saturday that particular year. Everyone in my “clubbing crew” took their turn ruminating over what a “Leap Year Bash” could entail: Drunken leap frogging, this variation on doing the limbo (that was me)? Leaps off the top floor of the club to some sort of netting waiting for you on the first, stretched across the dance floor (my buddy Rich)? It was neither.
The poster gave us nothing. The cocktail was center stage, but none of us had even heard of this libation, so that was lost on us. And that was about it. There’d be a DJ, and if I recall correctly anyone that was 29-years-old got half-priced beers. Surely, an actual “Leap Year Baby” would get special treatment but, honestly, how many of those would show?
The apps-era hadn’t yet taken off so there were no 29-cent wings to be had yet, which bars/restaurants up and down Route 1 — and across Connecticut — began trotting out on Feb. 29 years ago.
But this year’s Leap Year takes place on Saturday night. That means $29 packages everywhere, each one different than the next, and every Leap Year Baby celebrating like there’s no tomorrow. Or like there’s not another one for four more years, and it won’t be a Saturday.
As for my former co-worker, we hope she is somewhere fun, the “poor me” routine left at home for this year’s birthday. Especially since it’s her last year before officially becoming a teenager, counted in Leap Years.
Yep, she’s turning 12, and everyone will probably be hearing that all night long.