|They should require that t-shirt|
Hold on. I need to get another cup of coffee. I don't know why, but I slept very late this morning. Unusually so. I'll be right back,
It is damp and gray today. Perhaps that kept me in bed. It certainly was nothing I did yesterday. It was so much like every other day I couldn't tell the difference. I got up, read the "papers," stretched, took a walk, went to the gym, showered, went to lunch, came home and took a nap, got up and went to my mother's, picked up a sushi dinner, watched the news, poured a scotch, took a cheroot to the porch, watched some t.v., and went to bed before ten.
What can I say. It is my life.
There were some virtual things and a gift came through the mail. And I had two birthday cards. One came from the attorneys who handled my accident. The other was from a bar in Palm Beach. Bradley's has been sending them to me since the 1980s. If I'd been there, I could have had a free drink. They are really swell.
In the afternoon, I got a big box on my front porch. A friend of the blog sent me a picture frame diorama using one of my Lonesomeville prints. It was quite elaborate.
My mother gave me money for a pair of Birkenstocks, if you can believe that. I haven't had a pair for years, but I think it is about time to get some again. I believe they are in vogue just now, but even if they are not, I will sway the crowd.
When I walked into the sushi restaurant to pick up my order, the place was fairly empty. The staff were all up front when I came in. They greeted me by name. I like that, of course. I don't spend enough money there to warrant that, but you know, long blonde hair and all. . . .
There were three girls sitting at the bar close by. One of them said--and I know you will think I am making this up, but I shit you not--"Ooo, nice hair."
"Thanks," I said through the black mask that makes my hair look even blonder.
One of the women, maybe the manager, maybe the owner, I'm not sure, asked, "What are you doing for Valentine's Day?" I thought it an odd question, really, but I put my hand over my heart and hunched a little in the pose of a heart attack and said, ". . . I don't know. Maybe I'll find a girlfriend."
Immediately the woman at the bar who had commented on my hair shot her hand into the air and said, "I'll be your girlfriend!"
I haven't been around people for a long time now, and my instincts and reactions are a bit off. I was searching for something to say. Just then, the girl beside her pointed to her and said, "And today is her birthday!"
I shook my head as if trying to clear it. It all seemed a bit surreal.
"Really? Today? That's weird. Today is my birthday, too."
The women set up a chatter. I can't remember any specific words, just the excited tone.
"Did you have a good birthday?" I asked.
She looked down rather seriously. "Not really," she said.
"It must be an Aquarius thing," I offered. "Mine was nothing special, either."
The waitress handed me my go bag, and the manager/owner said, "Wait a minute. I want to give you a present." She dashed behind the bar and came back with a bottle of sake. "This is really good," she said. "Do you know how to open it?"
I just looked at her, stupefied.
"After you take this off, you have to press down with your thumb here. Then the ball will fall out. . . ."
I got lost in it. It was some special Japanese thing.
"If I have trouble, I guess I can Google it."
"Oh. . . she's a Google expert," someone said, pointing to my birthday partner.
I laughed and thanked everyone and waved as I reached for the door. I had really run out of things to say.
Back in the car, I called my mother. "I had to call you to tell you this. You won't believe what just happened. . . ."
There were a few more texts that night and a phone call. Some scotch and a cheroot, as I said. Birthdays are hard. They are truly awkward things. It is a day that rarely brings me any peace or happiness. I don't feel worthy of anyone's attention knowing it is mostly forced or token, but having none is disconcerting, too. I realized that on this day last year, just days after my retirement from the factory and the fantastic party they threw, I had another party at one of my favorite restaurants with a small group of them. It was the last time that group got together. It has been a year. A year since I have really seen anyone. A year of solitude and quiet. A year of deformation and hardship. And maybe a little loneliness, too.
Late, Q wondered if it was my birthday. Yes, I said. Somehow I have gotten old. It seems cruel, all this aging. But hey. . . did you hear the one about the fellow who walks into a sushi bar. . . ?