Monday, December 16, 2013

bashing the birthdays

I missed my brother's birthday earlier this month with my unscheduled departure from Bend (a day that lives in natality).

But last week turned out to be a bushel full of birthday bashes.  Well, two of them.  But both of them were a surprise to me.

While eating lunch at The Red Lobster on Tuesday, Lucy, the owner's daughter, told me that they were celebrating the 7th birthday of Lucy's daughter, Yennifer, on Wednesday afternoon.  You attended her 6th birthday party with me last year (one and a half ladies).

I am not what you would call the perfect guest for a children's birthday party.  Last year I had visions of a sea of drippy noses and teary eyes at Chuck E Cheese.  But it turned out to be a small gathering of adults, mainly expatriates who could bring their best gifts to the only child in the room -- Yennifer.

And that was the rub this year.  I was going to be on a bus tour -- the coffee and board game tour -- all day.  That was just as well.  I have no idea what to buy for a seven year old girl.

It was time to pull out my Eccentric Uncle persona.  Out of my card stock, I pulled one of the child birthday cards.  In English.  For a girl who speaks only Spanish.  Eccentric -- remember?

Into it went a peso note featuring the portrait of a national artist.  After 50-some years of dating, I still suffer from a mild case of "Money Buys Love."

But not from 7 year olds.  Yennifer loved the birthday card with its crowd of animals with moving eyes.   The peso note?  She tossed it aside in favor of a very fashionable plum colored dress.

Each afternoon I walk past the restaurant, I see Lucy and Yennifer sitting at a table where Lucy tutors her daughter.  She told me that she has been saving money to buy a tablet for Yennifer to help with her reading and arithmetic skills.  And that the birthday money will help.

The next morning I was eating breakfast at Rooster's when Joyce invited me to return that afternoon for a surprise birthday for her husband, Gary.  Not his 7th; but his 77th.  We writers love little bits of serendipity like that.

Gary is no little girl.  That made the choice of a card easy.  And at 77, he would have been a bit embarrassed if I had given him a present. 

That is one of the joys of attending birthdays for my age peers.  We have lived long enough to not be impressed with -- well, anything.

Which did I prefer?  That is a bit like asking whether I prefer Cinderella over Who's Afraid of Virgina Woolf?  There is no way to answer the question.

Let's just say that next year, I would love to be invited to both celebrations.  After all, what could be more symbolic of our lives than watching someone else's odometer rack up the miles?

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