Ten years ago, on my birthday, I was living in the US, miserable and unhappy. I had just lost my shot at getting a long-term visa. I knew I was going to have to move home no later than November 10th. My roommate and I had just had a colossal fight while moving into our new digs.

I did what any normal person would do. I flew home to see my parents. They cooked me steak and made me a birthday cake and I felt better. And then, two weeks later, I got the mother of all gifts that helped me ride through the summer.

Gladiator. Yes, the movie starring Russell Crowe. Gladiator saved my 2000, my 25th year. To this day, it has retained a hold on my psyche as the ultimate movie of personal empowerment, stick-to-it-ivity. I swear I went to see that move six times in 2000. I’ve owned it since I had a DVD player (that would be about January 2001). I’ve wathced it so many times it borders on the ridiculous. In fact, I watched it just a week ago.

My birthday is next Friday. And guess what happens not two, but three weeks later? A new Robin Hood movie, starring Russell Crowe, with his same Gladiator haircut. Could I be any more bitter that it won’t be out on April 23rd? No. Would I have loved to spend my birthday with him, in an underdog defeats evil story? Yes. Yes, I would.

I wish I knew people who knew people, because the best birthday I could have would be a private screening in an actual movie theatre of Gladiator, followed by Robin Hood. Screw going to the spa. Forget going out to dinner. Who needs a party? I want Maximus. After the year I’ve had, I need Maximus. For a year after Gladiator came out, my best friends turned my last name into a version of Maximus. Now I’m wondering if they’ll try to “Hood”ize it.

I’m pathetically looking forward to Robin Hood. My birthday? Not so much. Such is the fate of growing older.

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