Birthdays are cool and everything, but after you’re 21 there’s really no reason to make a big deal out of them. Please tell that to some adult people who continue to throw lavish celebrations on their birthday, lest anyone in the lands know they are not super-duper special. First stop: Coldplay frontman Chris Martin, whose 40th birthday party was an elaborate Willy Wonka-themed shindig featuring giant toadstools and lollipop-shaped decorations, US Weekly reports. I know 40 is a milestone, and you’re an arteest, but, irony alert: The party also featured a giant sign that said “Pure Imagination,” though lifting your party theme straight from a Roald Dahl book might seem to suggest the opposite.
No matter: Martin is not the only guy doing this, and unoriginal tends to be the name of the birthday diva game.
“People who make a big deal out of their birthdays: Grow up!” a wise person once posted on the internet. “Sure, if you want to get together with some pals and have some food, wonderful, but don’t act like you are Princess of the Universe for 24 hours,” the sage continued.
Clearly not everyone received this crucial, humane public service announcement, and even though some surveys have found that most people stop celebrating their adult birthdays because it is way too fucking much hassle to book a table at the Cheesecake Factory on a Wednesday night, obviously the wealthy and famous have people for that and no sense of shame.
In 2012, for instance, Yammer CEO David Sacks celebrated his 40th birthday by dropping over $1 million on a “Let Them Eat Cake”-themed party where everyone dressed up in 18th-century French costumes at the Fleur de Lys mansion. It’s a super cool, fitting theme for a rich guy’s birthday party, because the phrase is the most famous example in history of being egregiously tone-deaf regarding the struggles of the poor.
But in fairness, the $3 million 60th birthday party Blackstone founder Steve Schwarzman threw for himself just before the economy took a nosedive — the one that featured gourmet food and a $1 million appearance by Rod Stewart and forced Schwarzman to apologize — makes Sacks looks admirably self-aware.
Quick question: If you had $20 million to pay Stevie Wonder to sing “Happy Birthday” to you when you turned 60, would you do it? Rich British businessman and Topshop owner Sir Philip Green did, but at least he did it with class, featuring hostesses dressed only in thongs and leopard body paint.
Another totally fun, humble, imagination filled-way to be amazing is to ride into your own party on a camel. That is what Vikings running back Adrian Peterson did for his 30th birthday in 2015. It was a Middle Eastern theme. Or Arabian Nights. Or like, a Saudi thing. And there was a 12-foot ice bar. And a cake shaped like a palace. There were lemurs and stripper poles too, but whatever, those things all go together.
If you’re not sure how to make yourself look truly epic, try matching the suit you wear to your 32nd birthday party to the yacht you throw the party on, like Miami Heat player Dwyane Wade did for his birthday bash. If you still aren’t sure you’re important, add fireworks.
Probably Wade was just copying fellow Miami Heat player Chris Bosh, who back in 2013 flew by helicopter a mere seven miles from his home to his 29th birthday bash, where one of his three cakes featured a tiny him on top of a Moroccan elephant. Yes, the cake also matched his suit. Yes, the live camel at party also tweeted about the party. His name was Henri:
But chances are, he was probably just copying LeBron James, whose 26th birthday cake in 2011 was a four-tiered, Swarovski crystal-coated affair with a crown on the top.
Sometimes it’s not a birthday party, but a wedding that smashes and grabs from a bewildering array of influences into one big unoriginal one-act play called Look at Me, I Matter. Let us never forget Napster co-founder/former Facebook president Sean Parker’s $10 million “enchanted forest” wedding in Big Sur, which featured pigs on a spit for dinner, beds covered in animal fur, and guests outfitted by the Lord of the Rings costume designer. Nothing says powerful, egoless humility like every chair covered in white fur and a nine-foot tall cake to celebrate yours truly.
Hey, we know rich people and their entourages and staffs and helicopters and personal trainers are all funded personally by them, but when you’re that loaded, shouldn’t you have a lot of rich buds who want to impress you, offering to throw you a birthday party, their treat? What kind of rich friends do rich people have anyway?
That brings us to former Titans quarterback Vince Young, who was rumored to have borrowed $300,000 to throw himself a birthday party because he was low on cash while in the midst of a lawsuit over his financial troubles. Sadly, no photos of the party have surfaced.
In fairness to these rich self-party throwers who should hire better friends, there is, in their defense, at least one thing truly worse than someone who goes all-out on their own birthday: It’s someone who goes all-out on their birthday for an entire weekend, or an entire birthday week. These people demand as few as three days and as many as seven to insist that you treat them like a complete and utter anomaly on the face of the earth. It’s usually the sort of person who is really sweet and humble who does this. “You are not a 16th-century monarch,” Alaina Mabaso wrote of the alarming trend in 2013. “You don’t command multiple days for your personal festivities.”
Compared to that, a live-tweeting camel looks positively humble.