Saturday, November 15, 2014

It's My Party And I'll Cry If I Want To

When my BFF reached her milestone year, she planned her own party. She picked the place, the food and the guests. It worked out so well that I planned to do the same thing this year. And as my birthday was also the same weekend as the NYC breast cancer walk a friend and I planned to participate in, I figured I'd have it the week before. So back in the early spring, I mentioned my party plans to my son. His response was for me to walk in another city another month this year.

Could it be? Was I imagining that the men-children responsible for every stretch mark and quite a few gray hairs and frown lines might be planning a party for me? Could they have inherited that from Wingman?

Twenty years ago, on another milestone birthday, we stopped at his parents' house after spending the day at horse race charity event which was a cover for an all-day bacchanalian bash. In my Ralph Lauren blazer and plaid shorts, I entered to find that he had planned a surprise-complete with masks of my high-school face for everyone. The man who hated Christmas always had a soft spot for birthdays.

So I started wondering if I was having a party. I wanted one. Hell, I NEEDED one. I hinted to my BFF as much. She ignored me. Or so I thought...

The week before my birthday, son #1 called from Korea to say he planned to come to America to surprise me but with his broken arm and missing work, he couldn't.  He said that his brothers were mad that he wouldn't be there. Mad? Why?? It must be a party! The family dinner that weekend HAD to be it. I planned to wear black and look as sexy as a no-longer 50 year old could pull off without looking ridiculous while appearing totally surprised.

Son #2 is horribly allergic to the dog, so before he arrived "to go out to dinner", I had to clean the house. With the vacuum in one hand and Lemon Pledge in the other, I polished and scrubbed to get rid of the ever-present dog hair and dander.  Then son #3 hit me with his girlfriend got called in to work, so they wanted to take me to lunch. I brushed my teeth and threw on some clothes thinking I didn't have time for this.

What the lunch was, was my party.  A party I learned that was in the making for over a year, and I showed up with eau de Pledge and no shower.  But it was great, with family and friends, sushi and sandwiches, a 60 sash and even a "Barbarita" drink named for me. My sister flew up from Florida to make it truly special.

Twenty years ago, the people celebrating with us included a lot of neighbors and the parents of the boys' friends.  At this party, the friends there were just MY friends. Old friends from over 40 years ago. Friends who were there when things were good, when things were just so-so, and when things were horrific. Friends who will hopefully be there twenty years from now.

And my kids?  Now that they pulled this over on me, how am I ever going to believe them when I need a nursing home? They'll have me living in a refrigerator box and when I ask if this place is good, they'll have me believing I'm at the Plaza Hotel.
Although most were lost in the flood waters of Sandy, my collection of author Judith Viorst's books of the decades chronicle my life at best.  From "It's Hard to be Hip When You're Over 30" I'm now up to "Suddenly 60 and Other Shocks of Later Life". I've got at least another decade to prepare for my next banner and her book "I'm Too Young to be 70". Time enough to find another black outfit that will make me look dignified. Time enough to find a special someone to share it with.

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