Monday, September 18, 2017

Birthday Weekend

Well, the Hopper birthday weekend officially came to a close late last night. And not only am I, straddling the half-century mark, utterly and completely exhausted, so is almost birthday-buddy Patch, now age nine, as well as Little One, age twelve (for only ten more days), and even the Mrs.

Thankfully, work was slow. As was I, at work.

Anyway, it launched with a blast. I am not a social animal. I’m probably best suited in this life for Carthusian monkhood. But the Lord in His wisdom decided to place me in a family of decidedly extroverts. I put my foot down months ago and told the wife not to plan any party for me, save for a quiet dinner with her and the two little ’uns. That lasted about a day or two. “Listen,” she said, “you’re turning fifty. Your family is not going to allow you not to have party.”

So we compromised. Something small, eighteen people, all relatives, aunts uncles cousins parents children. At a local pizzeria. Truth be told, I had a blast. I chugged some beers, guzzled some thin crust slices, wolfed down some birthday cake. And best of all, the wife got me this:


This is an Epiphone Les Paul, kind of an economy-classed Gibson Les Paul. No matter – it feels great. The size and curvature of the neck, the fit and heft of the body. I love the shiny black finish and the gold frets and tuning pegs. She also bought a small Fender practice amp that lays down a nice basic tone to build up on. As of the writing of this post I’ve already put about fours hours of jamming into it.

So an enjoyable two-and-a-half hour 50th birthday party, capped off with the wife dragging out a black guitar case behind my back for me to open. It’s no exaggeration that I will probably remember that moment the rest of my life.

Saturday was no day of recovery for us. Got up early and ran some of the usual errands with the girls (recycling, dry cleaners, post office, library). Went to Home Depot for a couple of items – there’s a post in itself I won’t go into. Then I had to race back, shower, get into some biz cazh and motored a few towns over for a pre-Tax Season meeting with my second job. Went over my “report card” with my district manager, set some goals for the near future.

Got back home and actually dozed for twenty minutes while the girls kicked the soccer ball around in the backyard. Then the wife pulled up with Patch’s big birthday gift – a bicycle! She was electrified, super-excited. So, despite the unseasonably hot and humid weather, I hauled it and Patchie to the local running track to teach her how to ride.

And, father of the year that I am, I did. After much bruising and tears on her part. But the Mrs, in her wisdom, also included elbow and knee pads with the helmet with the bike.

Saturday night we chilled at a local eatery – just the four of us. Now I’m not a foodie, but I had one of the most delicious meals I’ve ever had outside of Hilton Head, S.C. I can’t recite the details two days later, but it was basically short ribs over creamy potatoes with some leafy veggie thing. But it was superb, I tell ya!

Sunday was a similarly action-packed day. Feeling somewhat spiritual entering my second half-century of life – O! forgot – I managed to find time yesterday for an afternoon confession – it’s good for the soul! – I got up at 6:45 and went to 7:30 mass solo (I allowed the ladies their beauty sleep). Got back, then the rush was on for Patch’s travel soccer game a few towns away. Poor little thing got rocked in goal for the first half, and we hoped it wouldn’t affect her birthday weekend. The wife actually had to bite her tongue and go for a walk as Patch was getting no help from her teammates. But after recharging with some oranges at half-time and going back in on offense, she got her fighting spirit back. Only one shot on goal, though, and it didn’t go in.

Once back and all showered, the wife took Patch to the beauty salon – where they met five of her fourth grade friends to get all their hands and feet done. Me and Little One picked up the cake and some balloons and met them all at that local pizzeria again, the scene from my bash Friday night. More pizza and cake followed. The parents came to pick up their little ones, we all mingled for a bit, then I headed home to shower yet again (like the third time of the day – it was unseasonably hot).

Because me and my pal were going to see It in the theaters. Had a chocolatini at his house (don’t ask – his wife makes them for me just about every time I come over there, something about both of us being chocoholics), then we drove over to experience the unexpected blockbuster. What a birthday, eh? It, my third all-time favorite book, now finally brought to the big screen in all its gloriously hideous and beautiful splendor (the 1990 miniseries does not exist in the world I inhabit). Normally I hate lengthy movies, but I absolutely loved every minute of the 135 minutes spent in Derry with the Losers Club battling ol’ Pennywise. A+. Easy A+. Best movie I’ve seen all year, best possibly since … I can’t recall. Definitely want to see it again on the big screen. Want to take Little One, but she’s still too little. Needs to mature at least another year, maybe when she’s in ninth grade.

So, that was the Great Birthday Weekend of 2017. Forgive my stream-of-consciousness post, too damn tired to edit it properly.

But it was a great 50th birthday.

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