Leap Year: The Trials and Tribulations

PHOTO: A leap year is a year containing one additional day in order to keep the calendar.
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Have you ever been told you look like an actor or musician, perhaps one with whom you'd rather not be associated?

Maybe you heard it over and over again, for years and years, to the point of nervous exhaustion. You settled the issue with close friends, but there was always someone new coming along to point out the obvious. Eventually though, you grew out of the look or the celebrity's face faded from other people's thoughts, and it was over.

But for the "Leapling," or "Leaper," a person born on that quadrennial 29th day of February, there is no such escape. Doomed, they are, to life as a walking, talking "conversation piece."

And everyone has an opinion.

"Some people say that I should be celebrating on March 1st, since it's the day after February 28th," says Danielle Fenster, 28, a digital project manager in New York, who, like her grandmother, has endured more of the mind-numbing inquiries than she can bear to recall.

"Others, including me, think that I should celebrate February 28th since it's within my birth month; Leap-Year babies call this being a 'Strict Februarian.'"

Facebook, the place most us go to check for or confirm a friend's upcoming birthday, is strictly ambiguous on the matter.

One Leaper who asked not to be identified said the social network manages to further confuse an already difficult set of circumstances.

"Every single year, Facebook chooses whatever day it wants -- or none at all -- and people start wishing you a 'Happy Birthday,'" the anonymous Leapling huffs. "Because Facebook told them to. Sometimes the 28th, sometimes the 1st, sometimes not at all."

A sorry state of affairs, indeed, which makes it all the more surprising that so many expectant mothers actually target the date for their big deliveries.

"People would rather have the baby on Leap Day," Sara Channing, spokeswoman for Orlando's Florida Hospital, told the Associated Press. "We have a slight increase in the number of scheduled C-sections on that day since it is a special day."

While mothers and the government both recognize Feb. 29 as a perfectly reasonable date to have been born -- federal programs such as Social Security accept it in their files -- the free market can be less accommodating. Some websites don't list 29 as an option in their drop-down boxes. Some companies' computer programs demand a choice.

"My life insurance policy is for March 1 because their computer doesn't support Leap Day," said Peter Brouwer, with one might assume to be a dash of frustration, when consulted by the AP.

He turns 56 today, meaning he will celebrate his birthday for the 14th time in almost six decades.

For Brouwer, and what he has calculated to be 5 million other Leapers worldwide, being quirky comes with its quirks.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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