Yesterday was Lisa’s birthday. She would have been 48. Lisa loved birthdays, hers, of course, and everyone else’s. She enjoyed all the little things that go with birthdays: cards, flowers, dinner out (OK, that’s not so little), and she tolerated the fact that I just wasn’t as good as those things as she was. (Lisa never forgot anything; my usual birthday cards are found in the “belated” section of the card store.) So, when she was approaching 40, she sat me down and said, “I really, really want a 40th birthday party. A surprise party. At a hall. With Hog Mawl. (a local band, not the food!) Will you do that?”
How could I say no?
So I rented the Elks hall, booked the band (as they were all friends of ours, they made their presense Lisa’s present), arranged for food and a really yummy cake (chocolate chip swirl!), and tried to explain to everyone I invited that Lisa had asked me to throw her a surprise party.
“Lisa asked you to throw her a surprise party?”
“Does she know?”)
It turned out wonderfully. The Elks (whose hall is on Sagamore Creek, with a spectacular view of the water) were a bit bemused at our crowd, who ranged in age from 60+ (my parents, who flew in from Arkansas for the occasion) to under-six (the youngest nephew), and included long-haired hippie-type musicians and a couple of very buttoned up-looking folks who really were librarians, as well as the tallest gay couple I know (the short one is 6’6”!), but by the time the band finished the first set, the Elks were hanging out in the doorway chatting with anyone who’d talk to them and visibly wanting to be let in. By the end of the evening, they’d invited Lisa and me to join. (I’m kind of sorry we didn’t.) We had a champagne toast and 40 candles on the cake, and, as I said, a lovely time was had by all.
I thought a lot about that birthday yesterday, of course. I wasn’t up to partying, but I did want to do something a little special. So I made a Manhattan (one of Lisa’s favorite drinks, and a pleasure to make because I get to play with the cocktail shaker), and got some cheese straws (another of Lisa’s favorites, and mine), and then I drank a toast and put on a silly DVD and made the dog run around and bark by laughing too hard. I think Lisa would have appreciated it.