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  這周末,我自告奮勇幫我朋友莉莎給她未婚夫吉姆趕制30歲生日禮物。莉莎想制作一部30分鐘的傳記錄像,記載她未婚夫生命中重要的時刻,給他一個驚喜。所以她上周就給他住在紐約的父母打了一個電話,索要吉姆童年以來的照片。兩天后,一個盒子就遞到了莉莎的門口。莉莎和我專心致志地擺弄著這些照片,按年月順序排好,此時我突然悟到生日把人的一生分得如此清晰。它們不僅標志著我們降臨這個世界的那天,還起到了標示人生重大里程碑的作用。在美國,下列生日具有特別意義:
  周歲 不管我們記不記得,我們大都過了一個非常高興的周歲生日,至少對我們的父母和家人是這樣。我們的周歲生日是父母和親人們的一個慶祝會,昭告世人他們擁有我們已滿一整年了。歡呼吧!
  16歲 甜蜜的16歲,甜蜜?這個生日有什么可甜蜜的?可能是因為16歲標志著我們行將成年,這是童年和成年之間的過渡期。它是我們一生中一個非常短暫而獨特的階段。在這期間,我們逐漸成人,但還未失去兒童的天真,正同時擁有兩個世界最美好的東西。
  實際上,“甜蜜的16歲”常常更適用于女孩的16歲生日,而不是男孩。16歲的女孩,正接近長成女人。試想,花蕾正要綻放,第一次向這個世界嶄露面容,這一轉換過程蘊含著美感和甜蜜。我們的16歲生日是我們可以獲得駕照的第一天,這是法律上邁向成人的一步。從這天起,我們不再需要父母駕車帶我們開來開去到處走了。我們只要借他們的車用就行了。或許這是男孩們覺得16歲如此甜蜜的緣故,因為他們急盼著慶祝他們這個新獲得的自主權。現在他們可以無需大人監督而自由開車了。哈哈!
  18歲 這一天是法定年齡,在法律上我們是成年人了。我們能對自己生活的各個方面負起全部責任。我們不再需要父母的同意就可到校外考察旅行,租看有限制等級的影片,辦理醫療手續以及結婚等。如果老師對我們的成績不滿,他直接找我們本人。如果大夫想談一下病情,他也只對我們自己講。
  直截了當地說吧,我們不再依賴別人了,而是要對自己的行為及其后果負全部責任的獨立人了。而我們的父母成了顧問而不再是法定監護人了。實際上,許多美國人對那些已滿18歲但仍指望并依賴自己父母照顧的人是不太喜歡的。當然,美國大多數家長甚至在孩子成人后都繼續在他們的生活中起著非常重要和積極的作用。家長幫我們付大學學費,付買房的定金,還要提意見出主意。但核心問題是:滿了18歲,我們就得自立了,不能再躲在爸爸、媽媽的身后了。
  21歲 大多數美國人以狂歡縱飲來慶祝這個生日,因為21歲在美國是法定的飲酒年齡。換言之,邁入21歲的那天,我們就進入了一個全新的社會層面。我們可以在就餐時來杯葡萄酒或在一間高檔的雞尾酒吧里享用高杯酒(摻有蘇打水、姜汁酒的威土忌或白蘭地),而不用担心因不到飲酒年齡而遭指控。此外,滿21歲之后我們就可以進出酒吧、俱樂部及賭場了。在美國,所有供應酒的地方都會在允許我們進入或提供服務之前要求我們出示年齡證明。
  30歲 30是個而立之年。這個生日有什么特別的呢?依我看,30歲生日對許多人來說都是反省和深思的時候。我們回顧這些年來我們有些什么成就,并判斷對自己的現狀是否滿意。30歲是個關鍵的年齡。我們不老但也不年輕了。也就是說,著手做自己一直想做的事還為時未晚,但要抓緊做,時光不等人。換句話說,30歲是問自己許多重大問題的年齡:我想結婚嗎?我想要孩子嗎?我該娶我3年前認識的那個女人嗎?我對自己的工作滿意嗎?干這一行我有前途嗎?現在改行太晚嗎?我該馬上開始攢錢買房子嗎?
  問題還將繼續問下去。最緊迫的問題就是要明白我們在生活中想要什么,并努力去實現這些目標。正如老話所說,“只要去做從不為晚。”但對30歲的人來說,我們沒多少時光可以虛擲了。所以現在還該對自己說:“好吧,這正是我想要的,而這些是我要做的改變。讓我們開始干吧,時不我待啊。”
  當然,我們千萬別忘了重要的是要按自己的具體情況行事。制定自己的時間規劃。不要因為是自己的生日而做某事,而要準備為每個里程碑的到來承担責任而做事。當我們感到有信心駕車于滾滾車流中時再去申請駕照;飲酒知道節制;想做家長時再要孩子;愛人就要鐘情。在生活中,我們要么長大了,要么變老了。但我們自己可以選擇其中一種。享受生日吧,吹滅蠟燭許個愿:“愿我們的下一個生日比這個更好!”
  This weekend,I volunteered(注:volunteer 附圖G812a33.JPG vt.(后接不定式)自愿(做)) to give my friend,Liza,a hand(注:give a hand給予幫助,助一臂之力)with her fiance's 30th birthday gift.Liza wanted to surpriseJames with a 30-minute video biography(注:biography 附圖G812a34.JPG n.傳記)that captured(注:capture 附圖G812a35.JPG vt.(用照片等)留存)the highlights(注:highlight 附圖G812a36.JPG n.最重要(或最有趣)的事件(或時刻等))of hislife.So last week,she called his parents in New York to ask forpictures from James' childhood.Two days later,a box arrived on Liza'sdoorstep.As Liza and I pored over(注:pore over 專心閱讀,鉆研)thesephotos,putting them in chronological(注:chronological 附圖G812a37.JPG adj.按年月順序排列的)order,it dawned on(注:dawn on被理解,被領悟,被想到)me how life-defining birthdays are.They not only mark the day we cameinto this world but also serve as signposts(注:signpost 附圖G812a38.JPG n.路標)for important milestones in life.In America,the following birthdaysare especially meaningful:
  ONE Whether we remember it or not,most of us had a very happy one-year-old birthday,at least our parents and family did.Our firstbirthday is an occasion for our parents and loved ones to celebrate andtell the world that they've had us for one whole year.Hooray!
  SIXTEEN Sweet Sixteen,Sweet Sixteen?What's so sweet about thisbirthday?Perhaps because sixteen marks our coming of age,which is theinterim(注:interim 附圖G812a39.JPG n.間歇,過渡期間) period betweenchildhood and adulthood.It's a very brief and unique stage in our lives.A time when we are becoming an adult,yet still haven't lost ourchildhood innocence.The best of both worlds.
  Actually Sweet Sixteen applies more often to girls'16th birthdaysthan to boys'.At that age,a girl is on the verge of becoming a woman.Picture a flower bud about to bloom,opening its face to the world forthe first time.There's a sense of beauty and sweetness to thistransition.Our 16th birthday is the first day we can get our driver'slicense.It's the official step toward becoming a mature person.Fromthis day forward,we no longer need our parents to drive us around,takeus everywhere.Instead,we just borrow their ear.Maybe that's what makessixteen so sweet to the boys as they eagerly celebrate this newfoundautonomy(注:autonomy 附圖G812a40.JPG n.自由,自主權).Now they can drivewithout adult supervision! Haa,haa!
  EIGHTEEN This is the day we become legal adults in the eye of thelaw.We can now assume full responsibility for all aspects of our lives.We no longer need our parents' consent to go on fieldtrips(注:fieldtrip 附圖G812a41.JPG n.(學生的)校外考察旅行),to rent a R-rated(注:R-rated 有限制級的,R=restricted) movie,to have a medical proceduredone,to get married,etc.If a teacher has a problem with our grades,hecomes directly to us.And if a doctor wants to discuss a medicalcondition,he speaks only to us.
  In so many words,we are not dependents any more but independentindividuals who take full responsibility for our actions and theirconsequences.And our parents have become advisors instead of legalguardians.In fact,many Americans frown(注:frown[fraun]vi.表示不悅(或憤怒、不贊同))upon those over age eighteen who still expect and relyon their parents to take care of them.Of course,most American parentscontinue to play very important and active roles in their children's lives even after the children have grown up.The parents pay forcollege edueation,help with down payments on houses,and bestow(注:bestow 附圖G812a42.JPG vt.把…贈與,把…給予)wisdom.But the point is,as ofeighteen,we are our own person and can no longer hide behind Daddy andMommy.
  TWENTY-ONE Most Americans celebrate this birthday with excessivepartying and drinking.21 is the legal drinking age in America.In otherwords,the day we turn 21 is the day we enter a whole new social plane.We can order a glass of wine with our dinner or enjoy a highball(注:highball 附圖G812a43.JPG n.[美]高杯酒(摻有威士忌或白蘭地等烈酒的飲料))ata classy cocktail lounge(注:lounge 附圖G812a44.JPG n.雅座酒吧)without thefear of being charged with underage drinking.In addition,being 21 givesus access to bars,clubs and casinos(注:casion 附圖G812a45.JPG n.(有表演、舞池等的)卡西諾賭場).In America,all establishments that serve alcoholrequire us to show proof of age before entrance is granted or servicesare rendered.
  THIRTY The Big Three-O.What's so special about this birthday?In my opinion,30th birthday is the day of introspection and reflection for many people.We look back at what we've done with our lives so far and decide if we are happy with where we are?Thirty is a critical age.We are not old but we're also not young.In other words,it's not too late for us to do the things that we've always wanted to do,but we should start on them soon because time is flying by.In other words,thirty is the age of many important questions:Do I want to get married?Do I want to have children?Should I marry the woman I met three years ago?Am I happy with my career?Do I have a future in this line of work? Is it too late to change professions?Should I start saving money to buy a house soon?
  The list goes on.The most pressing issue is knowing what we want in life and working hard toward these goals.As the saying goes,"It's never too late tostart." But as thirty year-olds,we no longer have too much time to waste. So it's high time to tell ourselves,"Okay,this is what I want and these are the changes I need to make.Let's get to it because I'm not getting any younger."
  Of course,we should never forget the importance of marching to the beat of our owri drum.Set our own clock.Don't do things because it's our birthday.Do it because we're ready to take on the responsibility that comes with each milestone.Get the driver's license when we feelconfident about piloting a car in heavy traffic.Drink when we know whento stop.Have children because we want to be a parent.Fall in love when we love a person.In life,we are either growing up or growing old.But we can grow as a person either way.So enjoy the birthdays,blow outthose candles and make a wish,"May our next birthday be better than this one!"
英語沙龍京G381中學外語教與學20022002幽嫻Remembering the Agesby Michelle Chang 作者:英語沙龍京G381中學外語教與學20022002
2013-09-10 21:50

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