Well, my birthday ended last weekend. It was a surprise, because I didn’t know it was still going on four weeks later.
I didn’t even suspect that the texted spontaneous dinner invite last Saturday was anything other than something my sister would normally do when they come into town, and since the restaurant her family was going to is only four blocks from my house I got an invite. It wasn’t until we were in line to order and she announced that they were buying since they missed my actual family birthday dinner that dim witted me figured it out.
Missing my birthday dinner wasn’t a big deal to me, I love that my fam is super low key about that type of thing. I think I’ve kind of trained my closest friends to know that I’m not big on dutiful or forced sentimental gift giving. It just isn’t my style…but on the other hand, I’m totally the type to get something for someone on a whim if I happen to think they will appreciate or benefit from it. So, when my birthday had the poor fortune to fall on the day of the national Women’s March, I wasn’t surprised that my brother-in-law’s role with the Portland Police Bureau would pull him away. I also wasn’t surprised when my sister had to beg off when my nephew’s high school sportsball team ended up in some game that Saturday.
Heck, I was surprised they were available originally, given the ‘Phew’s sports schedule.
So, there we were, standing in line at Tilt waiting to order some burgers and catching up when I realize that, naturally my birthday would last a month. I’m very fortunate to have the people in my life that I do.
They are very caring and indulgent of me.
My sis is very good about making someone the center of attention, which is – surprisingly – slightly uncomfortable for me.
I’ll wait for you to pick yourself up off the floor.
Sure, I end up being the focus of attention in a lot of social situations because I’m kind of an entertainer by nature. But it’s different when you’re the focus and you hadn’t intended to put yourself in the spotlight.
Know what I mean?
My sister – in contrast to my entertainer persona – is a hostess type personality.
Plus, she’s a mother. Very nurturing. Mothers are in the habit of putting others first, so she’s good at just conversationally making someone feel special or important. I think that’s quite a gift.
One that I don’t personally possess. Oddly, The Silver Fox has that same gift. Quite a coincidence, no?
Nah. It probably just means I’m kind of a selfish person.
At dinner I mentioned that I had been pretty lazy all day. Procrastinating my afternoon away, but all that I had really planned to do was go up to World Market to check out their case sale on wine.
Demonstrating our true genetic relationship, we all ended up going. My last name is Gaelic, so naturally we all appreciate a good sale on the good stuff.
We ended up splitting a case. I’d have bought a full case, but there is some lingering reflexive shame from my Catholic upbringing that tempered my purchase.
Plus, I’ve got to set a reasonable example for the ‘Phew.
I totally went back and bought a full case the next day.
Because we split a case on Saturday, my sister paid with her debit card and I slipped $60 into her purse to cover my half. It was a little more than my share, but A) I didn’t have anything smaller than $20s and; B) they had just unnecessarily- in my opinion – bought me dinner.
Catholic guilt being a real thing, I wasn’t surprised when my sister ended up treating Mistress Myrtle to some cat grass when we checked out the little boutique pet shop below World Market. She offered a lot of possible reasons and fixes for Myrtle’s overtly hostile affection toward me.
She needs a playmate.
Maybe she wants to go outside.
You should get her some different toys.
Or, cat grass, as it turned out.
I wasn’t sure that I wanted to encourage Myrtle to eat plants…a habit I have already failed to break her of, hence most of my plants sit on high shelves or are dead. However, my sister’s family has always included several furry components at a time: dogs, cats, rats…so I was willing to acknowledge her possible expertise on the matter.
Probably, what I should have for a pet is a turtle and not a cat, but it’s too late for that now.
It was a good evening. Totally unexpected, and a nice period at the end of the festivities ushering in my 49th.
Not that the prior three days of celebration the weekend of my actual birthday weren’t just damned fulfilling on their own. There was a touch and go component to the festivities, with Inauguration Day and the Women’s March both causing demonstrations that weekend; my parents were a little apprehensive about what driving in town would be like. The last protests-slash-riots we had here in Little Beirut had ended with a large – very large – assemblage of people in the park in front of my house, so the MNSC Friday dinner across the park at The Fox’s was even a little uncertain.
There was my actual family birthday dinner – on my actual birthday, even! My parents took my brother and I out to Caffe Allora, which is a block from my house. Really nice of them to drive 30 miles, just to take me to dinner. They made sure to invite The Fox along, who in turn suggested a glass of wine with everyone at Thelonius Wines, the wine bar next door beforehand.
That, as it often does, manifested itself as a bottle of wine. Which The Fox and I polished off solo since my parents didn’t make it into town early enough to join us.
It was a great hour, the bar wasn’t too crowded, so we (me) could easily overhear the stories from the next table about the Women’s March, which was quite inspiring.
The two bottles we polished off with dinner ensured that The Fox and I were ill equipped to install the Apple TV he had surprised me with before dinner.
The Fox is a sly one. He for sure knows how I feel about gifts. I’m not sure what got under his saddle, but we’ve certainly been enjoying his surprising and generous gift over the last several weeks!
Speaking of wine and generosity…we join my parents and the sole representative of my siblary at the restaurant and dad encourages my to pick a wine. I love the food at Allora, but their wine selection is really well curated, too. They have reds that are harder to find, like Barolo and Nebbiolo…but the Montepulciano was calling my name. That’s a varietal I hardly ever find in a store.
Sadly, as I was asking about it, I saw that it was $150 a bottle and immediately switched to a Nebbiolo for a much more reasonable $50-ish.
Hey, my parents are amazingly generous. But I’m not going to abuse that familial privilege. Besides, the evening was fantastic, an extra $200 on the tab couldn’t have made it any better!
What more could one possibly ask from a birthday celebration?
Nada. But me being amazingly well cared for by my friends and family, there was more to come. My Chosen Family dinner groups, old and new, turned out to be the perfect bookends to the weekend.
The whole weekend began with my MNSC dinner on Friday…Inauguration Day, because when your damn dinner club has the word Monday in its name, why wouldn’t dinner be on Friday? Hehe. I had accused Diezel and The Fox of attempting to trick me into coming to a surprise birthday party when dinner had been rescheduled from the prior week to the weekend of my birthday. They assured me it wasn’t, and…it wasn’t. There might have been the smallest nod in the direction of my birthday when dessert was served, but nothing more.
Just great people.
Good food – really good!
And fantastic conversation.
Sunday dinner at Chez Ricky, the inspiration for MNSC, turned out to be more of a surprise.
And, because I’m a lucky bastard…
Because I’m also a fat bastard.
Now, here’s the candle.
Waking up to this in an IM the day after dinner with my sister made me realize that maybe cat grass isn’t the only answer to surviving the next year with my murderous Myrtle. My sister had said that maybe Myrtle wanted to go outside.Well, maybe there’s something to consider…