December 16, 2001

If I were going to rate my birthday yesterday on a scale of 1 to 10  --  with "1" being the year I threw up on Greg McKenna in the backseat of a bottle-green Ford Pinto, and "10" being last year's candlelit marriage proposal  --  I would probably give this one an 8.75. 

Meaning that, as birthdays go, this one did not completely suck.

(Plus it had a good beat, and you could dance to it.) dinner at skate's

David had been sweating my birthday for weeks now  --  lots more than *I* was sweating it, for a change  --  and I'm sure it was mostly due to performance anxiety. How do you top a candlelit marriage proposal? So I tried to let him off the hook early, beginning in the middle of November, by insisting that I wouldn't be interested in making a fuss this year. Our wedding was gift enough, I said. Having you for a husband is the best present I could have ever asked for. Your love is the gift that keeps on giving.


But I meant it. "All I really want for my birthday this year," I told him, "is a nice romantic dinner out, just the two of us ... and for you to write my *FootNotes* entry that day."

There were other things I wanted, of course. I wanted phone calls from all three of The Tots (including the one who temporarily hates me). I wanted my old neck back: the one I had when I was eighteen years old, before skin tags and extra chins and premenopausal acne. I wanted Grandma Vert to stop being dead long enough to bake me a vanilla buttercream birthday cake with foil-wrapped safety pins tucked between the layers.

But dinner and a *FootNotes* entry were the only things I wanted from David.

It took some convincing, but I think that eventually he figured out that I was being sincere ... no hidden agenda, no ulterior motives, no subliminal femininelook! i'm engaged again! manipulation at play ("If I tell him that all I want is dinner at a nice restaurant, he'll feel guilty and buy me that digital camera/those platinum-and-pearl earrings/that Italian vacation villa I've always wanted") ... and for that reason we were both able to relax, and enjoy the day, and not get carried away with a lot of hoopla and folderol that we couldn't afford [him] and didn't want [me].

So he wrote yesterday's *FootNotes* entry -- although that turned out to be a more dramatic undertaking than either one of us intended, when the computer suddenly locked up and he lost an entire afternoon's worth of masterpiece, forcing him to rewrite the whole thing from memory ("This entry will never win a Diarist Award," he said mournfully) ...

... and in the evening I had my romantic dinner out, at the same fancy-pants restaurant where he asked me to marry him a year ago. Midway through the meal I handed him my engagement ring and forced him to re-propose, just for fun. (And this time I didn't say something stoopid like "Let me think about it.")

Plus I heard from all three of The Tots (including the one who temporarily hates me) ... I touched base with other family members, including my sister and my mom and my dad and my ex-husband and my new mother-in-law ... I enjoyed a brief but satisfying *Boo Hoo Moment,* midway through the afternoon (John Cale singing "Big White Cloud" is what did it: that, and thinking about my grandma) ... I had presents to open, thanks mostly to my mom and Jaymi ... David sang "Happy Birthday" to me, not once but all day long, pretty much ... and the waiter at Skates on the Bay stuck a birthday candle into my slab of Chocolate Decadence. (Plus there were *other* candles in my immediate future ... ifyoucatchmydrift.)

In other words: all of my most important *Birthday Needs* were met. Except for the neck thing, maybe. And the Grandma Vert thing. And the Italian vacation villa thing.

But I'm not complaining..

tell 'em secra sent you

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i'm wearing my new bathrobe right now! even as we speak!