Saturday, February 12, 2011
By Susan Esther Barnes
Friday was my birthday. My husband took the day off work to prepare. I didn't know why it would take him a whole day to bake a cake and wrap a present or two, but as it turned out, he needed the time.
My day went smoothly. There were no unexpected crises at work, and at my company they take you out to lunch at the restaurant of your choice for your birthday.
I also had a collection of birthday cards: One from a department store, one from an airline, one from my HMO, and one from our mortgage broker. It seems like it's only the large companies that haven't yet entered the digital age of online greeting cards.
Thanks to the wonders of Facebook, it seemed everyone around me knew it was my birthday. At the synagogue that evening, I received a steady stream of hugs and smiles and wishes for a happy brithday.
Afterward, I met my husband at a local restaurant for my favorite birthday nachos.
After we sat down, my husband said, "Happy birthday! I had a bad day. Feel free to write about this on your blog, photos and all." Uh oh.
He knows I love popcorn, and he wanted to get me a big tin of it. Just a couple of months ago, he had successfully ordered one for me online, but he had recently spotted a sweets shop in our town and had assumed he could get one there. Alas, they had none.
A while ago, when he had asked what I wanted for my birthday, I had suggested a particular kind of potted plant. At the time, he had replied, "Why do you want to kill a plant for your birthday?" (See my post Wanted for Multiple Planticide to learn why he would say such an awful thing). So he stopped by the local nursery, and discovered they didn't have the type of plant I wanted.
Apparently, he hadn't picked up on my hints about the accessories I would like for my new iPhone, so he went home empty-handed to eat lunch and to regroup.
He searched online for a place that sells popcorn, but couldn't find anything, so he opted for stopping by the local movie theater to get some.
What he didn't know at the time is I think fresh movie theater popcorn is way better than what you get in the tins. As they say, blind dog finds a bone.
As for the plant, he found a florist and called to confirm they had the right thing. It wasn't until he was in the car on the way there that he realized all they would have would be cut flowers and not a live plant, but he figured with those at least I wouldn't feel so bad when they died. Hrmph!
When he got to the florist, they presented him with some stems of the pretty blue little flowers he had asked for by name. He was a bit confused, since they didn't look at all like the big red flowers on the plastic plant we have at home. Nonetheless, he was in a bit of a panic by this point, so he purchased this gorgeous bunch of hyacinths
instead of the potted hibiscus I had wanted (see below). Of course, this was probably my fault, because I always get the names mixed up.
Then he went home to make the cake. Either one side of our kitchen recently settled, or the oven rack wasn't in right, or something else odd happened, because both halves of the cake came out higher on one side than the other.
When he tried to frost to bottom layer of the cake, cake bits kept coming off on the knife. As if that weren't enough, the top layer stuck in the pan. He finally got it out in pieces, and desparately tried to frost over the crumbling ediface, resulting in the interesting specimen on display at the top of this post.
Defeated, and with his stomach churning in acid, he retreated downstairs to his computer to await my phone call announcing that I has ready for my birthday festivities to commence.
Compare all this effort and care to my experience a dozen years ago, when nobody around me knew it was my birthday. That evening, on the way home from work, I picked up a perfectly formed slice of cake from a local restaurant, and ate it alone, sitting on my bed, watching TV.
Did I get everything I wanted for my birthday this year? You bet I did - and more. Love isn't about things. It is about caring and effort, and those things I received in abundance on Friday. And although I'm sorry my husband suffered so, it was a very, very happy birthday.