It’s the year of milestone birthdays chez nous. The professor hit the big 4-0 in October, or as the Hen explained it to me the other day, ’40…that’s half of 80…..you’re really close to 100 now, only 60 more years.’
And our oldest wonderboy just hit the big 1-0: double digits.
In keeping with my habit of anticipating loss, I’ve been thinking about – and mentally preparing for – the Gort turning 10 since he turned 7 or 8. Because transitioning from single digithood to two-age-digits seems like a very big deal, one that requires at least two years of bittersweet reflection. Because the past 10 years have gone by relatively quickly and I can only imagine the next eight will fly by and all I’ll have to show for it will be a Christmas card with two old-looking parents and three lanky boy-men.
In two blinks of an eye he’ll be driving and dating and applying for college. (Or, depending on how things go, setting up a bachelor pad in the basement.)
His birthday requests this year were highly specific. He wanted a skateboard and minecraft for the computer. (Apparently the ipad version is somehow inferior.) And he wanted red velvet cupcakes to share with his classmates.
He’d asked for red velvet cupcakes the year before, too. After consulting with some culinary friends, I’d settled on purchasing cake mixes because I couldn’t handle dumping an insane amount of red food coloring into chocolate cake batter for the sheer purpose of making it look ‘red’. The end result was perfectly passable, even if the texture didn’t live up to my expectations.
But this year I decided to go a different route. A recipe from Food & Wine had made its way into my inbox: red velvet cake….made with beets instead of food coloring.
So I roasted beets and pureed them into applesauce consistency. When the Gort pointed to the bowl of ‘pink stuff’ asking ‘what’s that’, I said ‘food coloring.’ And stayed quiet when he replied ‘it kind of looks like beets.’
Many dozens of miniature cupcakes were made. And topped with cream cheese icing. It was remarkably labor intensive and I insisted the professor take a picture of my labor so I’d have photographic evidence when my darling boy laments that I don’t care about him.
Upon sampling a cupcake, the professor announced: ‘I can taste the beet.’ Which is pretty much the kiss of death where he’s concerned.
No matter, my two-bite cupcakes were so tiny that by the time the grade 4 set realized they’d ingested beet they’d already be done with the whole thing. Plus nothing tastes bad when there’s cream cheese icing involved.
For his birthday dinner, the Gort also had very specific ideas about what he wanted: Clive Burger and Village Ice Cream. As he’d invited three friends to join him for the other very specific purpose of playing Minecraft on the computer, I decided it would make things easier to have burgers at home and drive to Village Ice Cream after a sufficient amount of minecrafting had occurred.
However, preparing burgers at home meant I had to make my own ‘Clive Sauce’ for dipping fries and whatnot. Clive Sauce being the strangely delicious pale orange condiment passed out at Clive Burger. I frantically googled ‘clive sauce’ before the guests arrived and came up emptyhanded. So I made a best-guess attempt: mayo, ketchup and a squirt of sriracha.
Whether it’s a close approximation or not, the Johnson boys are now slightly obsessed with my version of Clive Sauce. As the Hen told me a few days ago ‘you need to tell us how to make Clive Sauce so we can make it for our children.’
I’m not sure how I feel about having that as my legacy, but I suppose it’s better than nothing.
Two milestone birthdays down, one more to go. As I’ve learned rather quickly, being 10 has its advantages….and its disadvantages.
(Yes, that’s my cryptic way of saying I’ll be posting to this neglected blog again, sooner rather than later.)