A Cluster of a Birthday

As we (more importantly I) get older, there are certain activities that stand the test of time while others fade and morph and otherwise vanish.

I’m 23-years-old today. I have a soul patch, but I have gray hair. I drive a new car, but wear old shoes.

I eat cereal from boxes without prizes in the bottom.

Growing up with two brothers, we picked cereal based not on fiber or flavor, but on the temporary tattoo or color changing spoon in the bottom. Giving no thought to hygiene, we’d plunge our hands into the container, wriggling our fingers for the familiarly unfamiliar plastic at the bottom of the bag. Of course, we could never just open the box upside down as that would make it impossible to do the maze or answer the trivia on the back.

Now, a decade-and-a-half later, I stroll the cereal aisle finding things with multiple grains and some sort of fruit and/or nut included in the mix. There are less singing cartoons and the question of what really counts as a marshmallow is under serious consideration.

Can you find the easter eggs in this image?

The boxes are actually smaller, containing less cereal, and like most things promised to be “good for you,” are more expensive than those endorsed by frogs, orange birds, pre-historic man or vampires.

There are seldom mazes on the back of the cereal boxes I buy nowadays. Instead, there are just facts about how unhealthily I’ve been living. I’d rather have a riddle and the answer easily readable with a slight turn of the head. Instead, I’m pummeled with daily doses and recommendations for heart health intended to be of the jaw-dropping variety.

But equally as mysterious and yet somehow healthy is the beloved cluster.

I think they are oats and honey. But, unlike blueberries, their size doesn’t necessarily represent how tasty they are. Big or small, they all taste the same – fantastic. I gasp with excitement when an especially large morsel clinks against the side of the bowl and grab it up, too good to be diluted with milk.

And this is how I know I’ve gotten older. It’s the damn clusters. They are what I look for in a cereal – the ratio of clusters to crispies or flakes or whole-grain shapes of one kind or another.

And when life looks like a big bowl of clusters, you can be sure you’ve had a pretty excellent 23 years.

Thank you for a great 2.3 decades so far. Especially you guys.