Friday, August 17, 2018
I Love Birthdays
When I was growing up there were a lot of people who had birthdays close to mine. I told you we lived on the prairies. It was cold in the winter. Television stopped programming at midnight. There really was nothing much else to do late at night except to keep each other warm. That is my theory anyway.
Two of my father's brothers' birthdays are a day or two from mine. My mother's youngest brother is four days after mine. Other aunts, uncles, and cousins have birthdays in late summer and early fall. And of course both my parents and most of my brothers and sisters are within a two week span.
But until I was grown I did not know anyone with the same birthday as mine. I always thought it would be fun to celebrate with someone.
Our next door neighbor had the same birthday as me. She was a bit older but very nice. My husband's friend had the same birthday. Another young man we knew had the same birthday.
We used to have some great parties. These were not gift-giving occasions. They were just an opportunity for friends to get together and have fun.
Because all of us were part of the same social circle we would just have everybody we knew gather at an agreed spot. It was a different place every year.
One year we were going to dinner at a Mexican restaurant. I love Mexican food. My husband's friend with the same birthday was married to my best friend. She and I were looking forward to the meal so we had both decided not to eat during the day to leave more room for our food. It is a dumb thing to do I know but... what can I say?
Before dinner the spouses decided to take the birthday children out for drinks at a bar owned by a friend. Drinks were on the house because we were being treated by the owner. By the time we made it to the restaurant my friend and I were more than silly. The alcohol in the drinks combined with the fact that we had not eaten put the alcohol straight into our bloodstreams. I guess it is a good thing we were among friends.
Another year we went to a bar that had a live band so we could dance. My husband would not dance unless he had a few drinks to loosen himself up. On the other hand I will dance at the first note of a song. Luckily a lot of the dances required no partner so we could get up as a group and dance our hearts out.
There was one couple in our group that was different. She could not dance. He was a dancing fool. He told me once that the only advice his father ever gave him was about dancing. "Most men learn to dance to the slow songs. Then they can move in and get close to the woman. If you really want to please a woman learn to do the fast dances too." Needless to say this guy was always invited to any occasion if there was going to be dancing.
That was also the year that I had my first flaming shot. It is a shot of liquor that is lit by the waitress and you are to drink it while it is burning. I have to admit I blew mine out before drinking it. They just tasted nasty.
Apparently ouzo burns easily. Ouzo is a Greek liqueur flavored with anise. Anise tastes like black licorice. I do not like black licorice. Ick!
As always seems to happen our group dwindled. People moved away. They got divorced. Sometimes there were petty misunderstandings. I miss our parties.
But there were other birthday parties for me. I love birthdays and mine is the best.
When I was managing the band they played five nights a week at one bar. To pick up extra money they played one night each at two other bars. So Saturday night was the main gig, then Sunday we moved to another place, and Monday was still another.
One year on Saturday my friend came into the bar with a beautiful cake and we all celebrated my birthday. The guys in the band gave me a jacket with the band's name on the back. It was the only one ever made.
On Sunday we moved to the next bar. The band had a birthday table set up for me. It was a fun party.
The next night we went to the next bar. Another friend drove all the way there to bring another cake so we had another party. That was the night the drummer found a closet full of old costumes behind the stage. He put one on. It was full of fleas and they chewed him up.
I feel sad when I hear people lamenting that a birthday just makes them older. My birthdays tell me that I have gained another year of memories. Some are wonderful and make me feel warm inside. Some give me comfort. Some make me sad and sometimes I even cry. But they all mean I have grown as a person.
I will get older no matter how I try to disguise it. So why not embrace aging for the experiences that accompany it?