Did you know?

How can an 18-year old be on social security and Medicare?

By Paul Viau | Feb 24, 2016
Photo by: File photo IF YOU COULD TURN BACK TIME — With apologies to Cher, most of us would leap at the idea of being 18 again. Happy birthday, leap year babies.

I have a good friend and neighbor who has a birthday coming up, just two days after mine. I’m going to be in my sixties for one final year. He is about to turn 18 — with his whole life ahead of him.

I could be jealous of his youthful vim and vigor, but here’s the kicker: This friend has also found a way to get full social security and Medicare benefits. And, oh yeh, he is also able to purchase and consume alcoholic beverages legally, go to bars and breweries and get free admission to places like Haywood Fitness Center.

I talked to him the other day, and asked, “Alden, how do you do it?” — “How do you stay so young at heart, yet still enjoy all the privileges of being an adult?”

You’ll really be surprised by his reply — He turned to me and said, “Paul, I’m actually three years older than you. I’m a leap year baby.”

Of course, I knew that all along, and no doubt many of you had already ‘caught on.’

But in case you never thought about how that unique birthday might change your life, here are some interesting perspectives.

First of all — Did you know? The odds of being a leap year baby (aka — Leapling) are better than you might think — 1 in 1,461.

Its is estimated that there are about 4 million Leaplings in he world, and most celebrate their birthdays (on the odd years) either the day before their birthday — Feb. 28, or Mar. 1.

The preference of my friend, Alden Robinson, is to celebrate in the same month he was born, so he prefers Feb. 28 celebrations.

BTW, leap year babies are considered to have special talents and unique personalities befitting their special birthdates. But in some cultures Leaplings, are considered unlucky. The Chinese, for example, believe leap year babies to be difficult to raise. Maybe that’s because it’s so difficult to deal with the birthdays.

In Greece, it is considered to be unlucky to marry during a leap year, which wreaks havoc with Greek wedding planners. Perhaps that’s why the first, “Big Fat Greek Marriage,” release in 2002 (not a leap year) will probably do much better than the remake  — “Big Fat Greek Marriage 2,” which is scheduled to release mid-March, 2016 —  which is, unless they changed the calendar, still a leap year.

It was the ancient Egyptians who figured out that the solar calendar didn’t match up with the man-made version. It takes the Earth 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 46 seconds to travel around the sun. (I know, because I have timed it.)

That adds up to one extra day every four years — precisely why Julius Caesar added an extra day to the Roman calendar a couple millennia ago.

Now, getting back to my friend, Alden Robinson, here are some personal observations about being a leap year baby. For starters, Alden remembers his mother apologizing for the leap year oddity, saying, “I’m sorry I couldn’t get it done in February.”

Alden has made the most of the Leapling thing, making a bigger deal of his birthday on leap years. When he turned 8 (actually 32), his brother threw him an 8-year-old’s birthday party, where he got such gifts as a whiffle ball and an Evil Knievel action figure.

When Alden turned 13 (actually 52) his wife threw him a 13-year-old’s birthday party, where the caterer questioned why the family wanted an open bar for the celebration.

This year, for Alden’s big 18th birthday (actually 72nd), he is celebrating with his wife, Lanie, and his youngest grandson, who is really 18.

As for his thoughts on turning another leap year older — they match mine perfectly — “I wish I could get my body to work like it did when I was 18.”

To Alden and all you Leaplings out there — Happy Birthday!