Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The F-Word At A Birthday Party

There is only one reason, and one reason alone, that I would travel from sunny Southern California to freezing Cleveland in the dead of winter and that would be for a loved one.  

I lived in cold weather country for half my life and I am done-- finished-- not interested in-- boots, slush, shoveling snow, ice scraping or freezing my ass off again for as long as I live.  Yes, that's a problem for my mother and family who all still live there, but I make up for it and visit plenty of times when the weather is hot and humid, and the Ohio mosquitoes are the size of New York City cockroaches.  I think that makes up for it. Nevertheless, I was going to Cleveland for a party in the winter, which is like saying "when hell freezes over" and well, in Cleveland, it kinda does.  But I digress.

My oldest friend and gal pal extraordinaire, Kay, was celebrating her 50th birthday.  Again.  In Cleveland.  But Kay is like a sister to me and I would not think of missing it.  Guys may become "blood brothers" but Kay and I are true sisters who made a vow, as we crossed our hearts and our push-up bras when we turned thirty, that we would never, ever, mention the F-word in public. That's "F" as in Forty and Fifty.  We were going to stay thirty-something Forever.

Last year, for Kay's 50th, she was laid up in the hospital going through a nasty spell the likes of which would have sent me to the pharmacy for industrial strength Prozac. Since then, the past 12 months, and the C-R-A-P she has endured (medical and otherwise) is mind-boggling to the point that if I told you, the list would be as long as your arm, and you'd think I indulged in one too many martinis at lunch.  It's been a relentless, bazaar, and seemingly never ending year of wild roller-coaster riding.  Let's just say, the afternoon of the spectacular Hudson River plane crash landing, I literally called to make sure Kay wasn't flying that day.  With all that had happened in 2008, it would not have surprised me one bit, that early January, 2009 day, if she'd been standing out on the wings flagging down a tub boat.   Anyway, I digress again.  Back to Cleveland.

Kay's beloved husband, Vince, and their two beautiful, college age daughters, decided to throw a surprise birthday for her 51st to make up for the big plans they had to cancel for her 50th. Pulling off a surprise for Kay was a very tall order.  She's one of those babes who is everywhere and knows everyone and everything.  And I mean that in a good way.  We thought for sure, out of the 75 invited guests, someone would spill the beans. But, nope!  She was 100% blown-away-surprised.

For her poor husband, keeping the secret was tough.  A sell-professed "bad liar", he found himself spending much longer than usual shoveling snow from the driveway, walking the dog, and pretending to prepare their taxes just so he wouldn't slip-up in front of her.  It got to the point that he was so stressed trying to make excuses for his undercover actions to Kay, that one day, after filing the dog's dish with water, he put it in the refrigerator instead of on the floor for their pooch.  The poor guy was ragged by party night.

But daughters, Ella and Melanie, had it the roughest. They were doing the bulk of the planning via email from college, each in different states.  Arriving in Cleveland, three days before the party to prepare, meant sneaking in and out of the hotel their parents are living in so their Mom didn't see them or their cars. No small feat. (Remember all the crap I mentioned in the last year? One had to do with their house burning down and now living in a hotel for 6 months while it's rebuilt!  I wasn't kidding. Someone needs to call Ripley's.) 

Kay's daughters were troopers and had obviously learned a lot over the years watching their multi-tasking, super-mom plan parties on the spur of the moment for the masses.  They pulled it together, delegated when necessary, and had arranged for more than enough food and libations.  Entertainment included every "oldies" song from our generation along with a hilarious slide show, complete with Kay smoking a bong in college and other embarrassing bad hair photos from the past half century.

By the end of the night, as the party wound down, Kay had mascara tear-stained cheeks and was absolutely joyful.  Despite an entire room of people cheering her on for her Fifty-first, I never once saw her cringe at the mention of the F-word.  She was Fifty-one, madly in love with her husband, beyond proud of her daughters and happy to have her Fifth year behind her.

How do you celebrate birthdays?
Welcome to TheFiftyFactor  -  Joanna

1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful story! Friends are so priceless- and family that loves you.


Thanks for stopping by and commenting, I really appreciate it.