December 16, 1999
Birthday Bitching


Jen brought the bouquet of flowers into my office yesterday morning. 

"These are from Franz," she announced, and placed them with a flourish on the credenza behind me: poyn seh TEA uh a lavish and elegant arrangement of pine boughs, red carnations, white roses and gold ornaments.

"I hope you're having a happy birthday," she said.

"Wow!" I exclaimed. "They're beautiful!  Does Franz know he sent me flowers?"

"Of course not," Jen replied.

That's what I figured. "Then he probably doesn't know that he's having my lunch delivered, either," I said.  And I picked up the phone to call Le Grille and place my sandwich order.

Birthdays. Bah Humbug.

I wake up on December 15th, every year, with the same expectation: that this year, things are going to be different ... that my birthday will be,  if not perfect, then at least somewhat more fun than ... ohidon'tknow ... donating a kidney, say.

But it never is.


So what exactly went wrong yesterday? How did things go so hideously awry? Why was yesterday's birthday the worst I can ever remember? (Worse, even, than the year that chicken pox felled half my fourth grade class, and only three people showed up for my birthday party?)

I dunno.

It has nothing to do with being another year older. I honestly don't mind being 42 years old. Why should I? I feel great. I look great: on a good day, I can easily pass for a well-preserved 41.

It has nothing to do with the state of my life, either, which is mostly-fine, or with the state of my health (sneeze on me! I am Impervious Grrl!), or with the state of our *union* (DRaftervoi and Secra = still in perpetual honeymoon mode).

Nope. I think a lot of it had to do with being separated from my family again this year. And before anyone lands into me with "And whose fault is that, Miss 'I'm-Gonna-Move-Three-States-Away-With-a-Guy-I-Met-in-an-AOL-Chat Room'?," I would like to declare -- once again, for the record -- that I take full responsibility for the choices I've made. I'm living in California because I want to live in California. But that doesn't make being away from my kids -- and my family -- any less painful, especially on an important occasion ... like a birthday. 

(Or a Mother's Day. Or an Arbor Day. Or a Tuesday .

I spoke to all three of the Tots on the phone yesterday, and exchanged e-mail with a handful of other *key* family members. I'll be seeing all of them in less than a week, anyway. But somehow it just isn't the same as sitting around the kitchen table, eating soggy coconut cake, being serenaded by earnest off-key Tots, waiting to open my new Tabu Gift Set.

I think some of  it had to do with Franz, too, and with the fact that I work for a man who can schedule a company-wide meeting, one day in advance, and then proceeds to flip out when the Colorado *contingent* doesn't show.

And some of it probably had to do with the fact that David has still not been fully trained. He's coming along quite nicely in most departments: he's nice to my mother, he leaves the toilet seat down, he pretends to like Collective Soul, he almost never breaks the yolks when he's flipping the eggs. But when it comes to birthdays, we clearly still have some work to do. (Maybe next year: that romantic dinner for two?)

But mostly I think it had to do with the fact that I'm a great big baby. A great big cranky self-absorbed forty-two-year-old baby who doesn't mind taking responsibility for her personal happiness 364 days a year ... but expects someone else to carry the ball on that 365th day.

Somebody buy me a pony, quick.

At 6 p.m last night I was still sitting at my desk at work, blearily playing Elf Bowl, waiting for David to come and rescue me. I already knew that our romantic dinner plans were a wash ... but that was OK. At that point all I really wanted to do was go home to The Castle, kick off the uncomfortable shoes, and crawl into bed with a sandwich and a library book and go to sleep obscenely early. (Which is pretty much exactly how the rest of the evening played out ... except for the sandwich and the library book.)

Just then Franz walked into my office. I figured this was probably it -- he was finally going to wish me a "Happy Birthday," or congratulate me on the fine job I did on the newsletter, or apologize for pissing off two-thirds of the company and then blaming me for it. But instead, he walked over to my credenza and looked at the birthday bouquet *he* had sent me. He made a little sniffing noise. 

"They don't smell like much," he said.

And then he picked up the bouquet and walked out the door with it.

For a minute I thought he was kidding around. (Franz is 'stealing' my birthday bouquet ... hahahahahaha!  Funny funny Franz!)  Then I thought maybe I was hallucinating: ten hours of fending off angry phone calls from murderous co-workers can do that to a person. Fact is, he was halfway down the hallway before it *dawned* on me what was going on:

He didn't know the flowers belonged to me.

There was a little gift tag sticking out of the top of the bouquet that simply said "Franz." He'd seen the tag, and figured the bouquet was for him. 

Jesus H. Christ in a 1-800-FLOWERS delivery truck.

I ran down the hallway after him. How best to defuse this situation? With humor? ("You know, Franz, flower-napping is a felony in 48 states.")  With deliberate dimness? ("Gosh, you don't need to water my flowers ... but thanks anyway.")  Or with honesty? ("This is pretty much the icing on the birthday cake of my day, Franz. Hand 'em over.")

Fortunately Jen was there to come to my rescue. 

"Oh Franz," she gushed, as he walked into the kitchen, "Terri just loved her flowers."

He didn't even have the good manners to look embarrassed. He just sort of shoved the bouquet into my arms, saying "Oh. I thought they were for the lobby." 

And that was pretty much that.

This morning I left him a little *thank you* note on his chair. "Thank you for the lovely flowers," I wrote with utter sincerity. "It's thoughtfulness like yours that helped make my birthday the day it was."

Ain't it the truth.

self-important blurb #1 will go HERE: watch. tomorrow i'll write a big apologetic website entry, all about how wonderful david is, and how i don't deserve him & all of his vast reserves of wonderfulness, and how i have no right to expect him to *read my mind* and intuitively KNOW that i would like birthday breakfast in bed -- even if it's nothing more than a bowl of cinnamon toast crunch and a limp slice of happy panda toast -- and roses sent to my office, and a telephone serenade during my mid-afternoon coffee break, and a romantic candlelit dinner served at a table with a real tablecloth on it -- no kiddie's menus and crayons -- and a big soggy coconut birthday cake with forty-two candles plunked into it [and a tinfoil-wrapped safety pin, hidden somewhere in the middle, for good luck].

who knows? if i'm in a really good mood tomorrow [read this: if i've recovered sufficiently from *the birthday*], i might even say something nice about franz.

or not.

self-important blurb #2 -- probably having something to do with the WEATHER: countdown to tictac: t-minus seven days and counting!
[now if only i had a suitcase ...]

special *howdy* to: i want to take a moment out of my busy bitching-and-moaning schedule to extend a warm *welcome to the world [you're gonna hate your december birthday]* to the newest 'grilla:

~ Grace Cassidy Morrison ~

Born: Wednesday, 15 December, 1999 -- 8:45 P.M.

Proud [Yet Still-Amazingly-Vibrant-and-Youthful] Grandma: FifiOToole

[sort of] one year ago

here's where i'll ask a *relevant* question:
what did you wish for when you blew out your birthday candles?
if it was a pony ... i don't wanna hear about it.

amazingly profound thought of the day:

"the forties are the old age of youth;
the fifties are the youth of old age."

[oh great. does that mean i'm still gonna be a big baby when i'm fifty?]