December 16, 2001
were going to rate my birthday yesterday on a scale of 1 to 10 --
"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.
it had a good beat, and you could dance to it.)
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
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.
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.
dinner and a *FootNotes* entry were the only things I wanted
took some convincing, but I think that eventually he figured out that I
was being sincere ... no hidden agenda, no ulterior motives, no
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
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
to re-propose, just for fun. (And this time I didn't
say something stoopid like "Let me think about it.")
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
there were *other* candles in my immediate future ...
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.
I'm not complaining..