After a certain age – say 30 – birthdays seem to diminish in excitement with each passing year. Perhaps because you realize there won’t be an unlimited supply of birthdays; or you do the math and realize – if ‘those who’ve gone before you’ are any indication – you’ve very likely passed the halfway mark and, without having agreed to it, you’re now on the downward slope of your life graph.
But in between these potentially alarming musings, there are the jenerous boys and their fearless leader who do their best to entice me to celebrate.
On my way out to lunch with the professor, the boys sit at the dining table with the babysitter, obviously working on cards for me. ‘Don’t peek,’ they yell, while stage whispering to each other to keep it a surprise and making less than charitable comments about my age to said babysitter.
At least I’m younger than the professor. I’ve still got that going for me.
The professor and I eat lunch at The Coup. The sort of place where the waitresses wear their hair in top knots and the $6 bergamot iced tea is scented with thyme.
The professor winces after his first sip. ‘Tastes like chicken?’ I verify. ‘I was wondering what that was – you shouldn’t have said anything.’
It’s of course ironic that the iced tea would taste of chicken since the restaurant is decidedly vegetarian. I forego the ‘sunflower and seaweed pate’ and opt for the buckwheat noodles….with seaweed, instead.
I discover the secret to weightloss: eating with chopsticks. After fifteen minutes of stabbing at my noodles with two black implements, I give up.
‘I’m tired,’ I announce and ask the waitress if I might have the half-full bowl of noodles ‘to go’. We skip the vegan, raw, lemon square and walk directly to Farm. For desserts made with cream and butter.
We have peanut butter pot de creme with chocolate ganache and sprinkled with maldon salt ‘to enhance the sweetness’ along with chai carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and decaf french pressed coffee. The professor dips his spoon into the custard. ‘I’m not really getting the sweet‘, he muses, ‘just a lot of salt,’ and promptly scrapes off some of the flecks of ‘sweetness’.
Later, at home, the boys all disappear into the basement to wrap my presents. ‘You’re going to be surprised!’ the Gort announces when they finally emerge carrying wrapped trinkets.
I open the first package, as directed by the Hen who had shopped with the professor on behalf of his brothers. It’s a bar of soap wrapped in fancy paper. I smile. I am officially a mom. Because nothing says ‘mom’ like scented soap wrapped in gift paper.
The second gift is a ring. A brass band with a green plastic flower in the center. It’s……either charming or hideous. Maybe both? There is a slightly droopy, oozy chocolate cake made by the professor at the insistence of his boy-children but without any assistance from them. ‘That’s a fire hazard,’ the pastry chef declares after lighting a mere twenty or so candles. Good thing they don’t sell candles in packs of thirty eight.
‘Do you like the ring’ the professor asks when the boys are out of the room. ‘I’m not sure,’ I reply. ‘Yeah, next time I’m taking the Gort,’ he shakes his head. Because shopping for birthday presents with a four year old has clearly taken its toll.