birthday loot, chapter one

I cringe when people say cheerful and complimentary things about my Leo birthday. To me, growing up, an August birthday was one of the loneliest days of the year. My friends were away on summer vacations, at camp, visiting family, adventure travel. My family would have finished any summer adventures that were on the calendar for that year, so that we'd be home in plenty of time to get ready for the coming school year. Birthday presents from family centered on their expectations from me for that year: an overly fancy diary to copy assignments into, a metronome to practice with, an enormous gum eraser to help me learn that everybody makes mistakes, sensible shoes... A few crazy albums or a cute sweater from friends would have been a big help, but when you're at drama camp or on an island off the Maine coast, maybe you'll think to send a card. Or maybe you won't.  Learned early on, you can't keep friends if you can't make allowances.

Himself is not a shopper. In fact, he's frightened of stores. I don't know what his mother and grandmother did to him, but whatever it was, they did it in stores. His idea of browsing while we travel is to drive at 40 or 50 mph down, say, Rue St Honoré or the Promenade des Anglais, late at night, and point - while driving! while driving! - at windows that are still lit. I think he's not alone in his male shopping dread. I've often observed men enter Brooks Brothers on Madison Avenue (conveniently located near J.Crew), and stand still just inside the front door. Staff is used to this. Kind Salesman will approach and ask if he may be of service. Frozen Customer makes gurgly noises. Oh, says KS, shirts? More gurgles. KS returns with a few blue, a few white. FC defrosts a little and points....

So I've learned that since he's basically a generous soul, I need to tell him (a) that I am having a birthday again this year; (b) as indeed I have one every year; (c) on the same date; and (d) he needs to get me thus-and-such. If I'm feeling particularly kindly, I'll offer to go to the store myself and pick it up. Sad but true. I focus on his other good qualities.

And as to celebrations: people still go away, close up, vanish for August. When we feel that a year is worth celebrating, we follow the example of HRH Queen Elizabeth, whose real birthday is in February when most of England is closed, but who celebrates toward the end of June, when a lot of Brits are out of hibernation.

So who commemorates my lonely August birthday? Relatives, with calls and cards. And stores. Sometimes sufficiently in advance to allow for planning! I plan to update this post as things arrive, but here's what came in yesterday's mail:

                     Discount card from Bendels,
                     with birthday wishes

                     Discount card from Anthropologie, in
                     cute package, with birthday wishes

                     Small but thoughtful gift certificate from
                     Bloomie's (have forgiven them), with birthday wishes

                     Postcard from J.Crew, reporting that Rock Center
                     is open for business again. No discount, no wishes.

Hmm, what's wrong with this picture? Oh, well. What do you like/dislike about your birthday?


  1. Happy Birthday!!! This was so funny, you never fail to crack me up, thank you!

  2. What I hate about birthdays? It seems like the wrong person gets the presents (if there are any). Shouldn't the mother who bore you, carried you, and suffered through debilitating pain to deliver you get a little something every year on the day of one's birth as a thank-you for all the time and trouble? ....of course I'm slanted in my opinion going through all that myself.

    Needless to say, I hope the annual celebration of the day of your birth is a happy one, and you pick out a lovely gift for yourself!

  3. Oh no I feel for you and the sucky August birthday. MrBP is an August guy and always feels a little left out, friends all away so no party to speak of.
    One year I had his party on his half birthday in February and it was a big hit.
    He also feels jealous as I have the perfect birthday: June 10th. Everyone wants to party as the weather is finally warm, people are still home as school is still in... it is a great date for a birthday.
    That being said if I don't send MrBP a wishlist via email there will be no birthday goodies! Men are like this.

  4. Happy Birthday! I hope you have a great day, and that you get lots of goodies with your discount cards. My husband is a similar way with gifts but it took me a while to figure it out. Now I try to put together a wish list but it's not easy, as I was brought up not to demand anything.

  5. Happy birthday, WFF!! I always hated having a winter birthday. Couldn't have anything outside, everyone was still recovering from Christmas.

    LOL, the description of FC is

    Choosing one's own gift is a blessing in disguise. Trust me. DH takes offense at suggestions or hints, and to be fair, he doesn't majorly miss too often. Still...

  6. ajc, glad you enjoy!

    egyptomaniac, in our very civilized city, there's a law that when a new dad makes his first "official" (non-delivery room) to a new mom, he must come bearing Tribute.

    Dani, June 10 is a perfect birthday, as good as HRH's official day.

    Louise, waiting for the rest of the cards to roll in. Shame that JC doesn't do this.

    MommyDearest, you should only see these Masters of the Universe glued to the floor at the BB entrance!

    Ladies all, thank you for your good wishes and kind comments. The actual date is 2 weeks off, so I guess the kindly stores want to be sure I'll plan a visit.

  7. No sympathy here. :^P My birthday is right before Christmas, one of the darkest days of the year. School was always out for the holidays and everyone incredibly busy so no parties or gifts for me, except from my parents.

    Now that I am older people are busy with holiday parties. My mother and husband give me with thoughtfully-chosen greeting cards and husband tells me to buy myself something expensive on his credit card, the perfect gift for me. My dad used to call and we would talk for hours but he is now gone and I'd give anything to speak with him again.

    I have sent my mother a bouquet of flowers and a thank you note on my birthday every year since I was 18.

  8. Happy almost Birthday WFF. I too am a Leo and have always loved this-- no school, beach day as a teenager. I still rarely work on my birthday. The Perseid meteor shower always appeared near the day, and my parents did not discourage the idea that this heavenly display was somehow in my honor. My daughters commonly write me heartfelt notes and these are my main presents. DH takes me to dinner and knows I will order something I want or he finds a little antique. Nothing I don't like, really, except the # of years as I am too young to be this old...

  9. xoxo, my dad always pretended to be surprised on my birthday. I miss him most at unexpected times: when my bike crashed into a tree, and Himself rushed me to ER, and the tree was still standing when we returned. I knew that if Pop were around, that tree would have been toothpicks.

    I read your comment and thought about all the dates and events that conflict with birthdays... My sister's came on either Labor Day weekend or the first day of school. Not so great either.

    Lane, I can't see the Perseids from the roof of my building in NY, too much ambient light, but thought I might try from the beach last summer. We turned off the car and waited. Giant beams of light crossed the sky. Not meteors, as it turns out. We're 5 minutes in 1 direction from the "Gold Coast" and 5 minutes in the other from the county jail.

    I've reached the point where I don't recognize that girl in the mirror some mornings. Will not dwell on that.

    Again, I'm surprised and delighted by the different reactions people have to the subject of birthdays! Thank you all!

  10. Happy Birthday, WFF!

    What I like about my birthday: that almost every year, for as far as I can remember, it's been sunny outside!

    What I dislike: I am getting a year older, of course.

  11. Hi, Rose, don't we all, don't we all...


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