Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Last year, I turned the big 6-0. My birthday stretched across several days and included a surprise party, flowers, three cakes, 50+ cards, and people singing the “Happy Birthday” song everywhere I went. I was the queen.

It’s only one year later, and how quickly the mighty have fallen.

It was my birthday again in October—the not-so-big 6-1. I was determined to be prepared. After the hullabaloo of last year, I was bracing myself for all the possible festivities.

I got up around 6 a.m. and started out the day with my coffee and crossword puzzle as usual. All of a sudden, I heard a huge THUD. 'What?? Was that a van door slamming? The flower delivery van already???’ I leapt to my feet, anxious to get to the door to collect the bouquet. Roses? A fall arrangement of mums? That’s when I noticed the desperately thrashing robin on the deck.

The THUD has been a kamikaze robin, smashing into my sliding glass door. I hurried over to the deck where it had fallen and watched it writhe around convulsively, fluttering, flapping, spinning and reeling. I am so bad at medical emergencies—what does one do for robin traumatic head injuries? Luckily, the bird settled down within a few minutes and flopped down onto the ground to do a little concussion recovery under the deck.

After an hour or two, I gave up my vigil of waiting for the florist’s truck and went for a walk on the trail. Nobody—and I mean nobody—was out walking on the trail that morning. It was one of those eerily quiet, too quiet, walks. Strangely silent. But because it was my birthday, I braced myself for the inevitable friends and relatives jumping out and yelling “Surprise!” at every bend in the trail. It became one of those jumpy walks where I kept looking over my shoulder and peering ahead around the corners. But I made it home without any surprise party trail ambushes.

That afternoon, Tom and I drove down to St. John’s University for a football game. We do it every year. However, this year we came during halftime so we didn’t have to pay to get in (ah, retired people—our cheapness is only topped by our miserliness which is only eclipsed by our tightfistedness).

When we arrived at the football game, the marching band on the field was getting ready to spell something out—H-A-P . . . could it be? H-A-P-P-Y. Oh, how embarrassing! Tom, you shouldn’t have! H-A-P-P-Y F-A-M-I-L-Y W-E-E-K-E-N-D! Oh, right. Family weekend. Heh, heh, um-hum. I knew that.

After the game, we took a walk around the campus, down by Lake Sagatagalan. No balloon-decorated pontoon full of reveling party throwers broke the calm stillness.

We also walked through the St. John’s Monastery cemetery. You should always walk around a cemetery on your birthday in case you are feeling bad about your age. Reminds you of the alternative.

We stopped for dinner at the Captain’s Table on Fairy Lake in Sauk Centre on the way back to Alexandria. We even got a window table. Since I was the one who impulsively suggested eating there, I knew there would not be 30 of my closest friends and relatives waiting to jump out. It’s always a good thing to do on your birthday—pick out the restaurant where you want to eat within a few minutes of eating there. It seriously cuts down on surprise birthday celebrations.

So be forewarned . . . your 61st birthday will likely be fairly low key. Don’t wait for flowers or surprise parties or cakes or candles or people dancing in circles around you. Don’t expect the Mormon Tabernacle Choir to sing the Halleluiah Chorus on your behalf. Expect a quiet little celebration with the person who has quietly celebrated the previous umpteen birthdays with you and doesn’t seem to notice that you’re not as young and cute as you used to be. That’s the guy to celebrate with.

1 comment:

Elaine said...

Ms. 2! You have to announce your birthday in advance by a couple weeks so we can plan! Happy late birthday, dear! We have known each other a long time, and I regret the lapse of decades when we didn't have any contact.