My 30th Birthday (part 1)

The first thing I have to write about my 30th birthday is a disclaimer that Jacob and Matteo’s school gives the kids a week’s vacation the week of Veteran’s Day. It’s not all in observance of Veteran’s Day (honestly, I think the school could make a bigger deal out of the holiday, but, then, Dad served and always made sure we were conscious of the men who fought for our country), but more a kind of midterm break. That meant that the kids were off from the 7th to the 11th this year, which just so happens to include my birthday. So don’t think Maya kept the boys out of school to celebrate my birthday.

This is the year that I hit the “big 3-0” – and, yeah, I reckon it was a little depressing, especially as it was pouring rain the whole day. I guess the continuing celebrations on Wednesday and Thursday made up for that (yeah…one thing you can say for my 30th birthday is that it got celebrated a lot lol), but November 8 itself was a little, well…it felt a little off-kilter. It wasn’t until a few days later that I found out why.

The boys came into my room to wake me up, although they at least waited until 8:30, since it wasn’t a school day. They wished me a Happy Birthday and were followed by Belen with my breakfast on a tray, complete with her super-crispy-but-not-dry bacon. The boys stuck around and watched me eat; the only thing missing was the camera. I was sure that was my birthday surprise and I was sure that they’d want to capture it for the show. The other thing that was a little weird – I’m not saying I was greedy, but it was weird that the boys didn’t bring me a birthday present. I figured they would later in the day.

I also knew I wasn’t going to get a present from Joyce that day, since she had something she said she couldn’t get out of (even for my birthday) and that she was going to take me out for the biggest steak I could eat the next night, Wednesday.

At least that’s what she said the week before.

But she said something totally different when she called shortly after I finished my breakfast in bed. She somehow got out of whatever it was she was going to do, and, therefore, we could go out to dinner for my birthday on my birthday. That made more sense than going out on Wednesday anyway. So I had that to look forward to in the evening. For the rest of the day, I really had nothing planned. I figured I’d hang out with the boys. We all needed rainy day activities, and y’all can probably guess that I hate rainy days. We don’t get a lot of those out here, but they were always torture growing up for a kid who was happiest being outside. So the boys and I had to make the best of our mutual day off. We at least had a lot of crafting material that Joyce brought us from one of her many trips to Dollar Tree (I still haven’t told you about that…I’ll get to it, I promise), and, although the boys aren’t trusted with the hot glue gun, I am…so we glued a bunch of things together to make some Thanksgiving decorations. It wasn’t great, but it kept us busy until it was time for lunch.

After lunch, the boys got a little antsy. Jacob asked why we couldn’t go swimming (Jacob: “you get wet in the pool anyway”), and he sort of had a point, but it wasn’t just raining, it was coming down “in sheets” (like Meemaw says), and, besides, it was too cool. Maya has a rule about the boys swimming if the temperature goes below 70° so they won’t catch cold. I’d gladly go swimming when it was colder than that (the pool’s heated, after all…and I do go swimming when the boys are in school even if the temperature is below 70° ), but Maya’s the boss and rules are rules. So no swimming in the pouring rain.

I got us through he rain delay by showing the boys how to play poker. It’ll be a useful skill for them, and Maya happened to have a set of chips we could use. Jacob had more of an idea of the game, although he knew more about Texas Hold ‘Em than he did about draw poker. (Papaw wouldn’t have been caught dead playing Texas Hold ‘Em lol.) Remember that I don’t gamble, and that Keaton would probably have been the better person to have come teach the boys, but we were stuck, and, for some reason, the boys seemed to have nothing else they could do.

We got interrupted by Belen who said that we should come to the kitchen, where she had a birthday cake and candles set up for me. Maya, Robert and Sandy came in to join in the singing, and so I got to feel celebrated. Belen made a tres leches cake, which is what Mexicans usually have as their birthday cakes, and, like all of Belen’s cakes, it was totally bombass. I just didn’t want to ruin my appetite for wherever it was that Joyce was taking me, so I only had one piece.

Then it was time to get dressed for dinner, so I left the boys to keep themselves busy as the rain started to get tired of falling. I put on my blue interview suit and slicked my hair back a little, and everyone told me I looked great as I hopped into the shitbox to drive up to Joyce’s. There’s no set rule for when I get to spend the night at Joyce’s, although I do it at least once a week; the only thing is that I have to be back at the house on weekdays to deal with the boys at 6:55. Since the boys were off school for the week, I figured that this would be a great night to spend with my girlfriend.

Joyce took me to The Palm, just south of Downtown LA. It’s a steakhouse we’ve never been to, and it was pretty awesome. Not fancy like it makes an illiterate redneck who’s gonna order a beer with his steak uncomfortable, but still fancy enough to make me not feel weird that I was wearing a business suit. I’ll admit it – I didn’t eat like someone who has to worry about how he looks with his shirt off and who’s turning 30…crabcakes, the 16 oz. ribeye, garlic mashed potatoes, snap beans, and a bombass chocolate cake (since there wasn’t any ice cream on the dessert menu) that came with a candle…but not with singing waiters lol. We don’t get steak very often at the Sharpmans, although sometimes on one of Belen’s nights off Robert will fire up the grill and make NY strips, so the ribeye was a big treat. Joyce knows me well lol. (Yeah, sure, I always had fried chicken on my birthday when I was growing up, but me and Joyce have been to a lot of fried chicken places, and Joyce has gotten tired of me saying that Meemaw’s and Mom’s are better.)

It wasn’t until we were waiting for dessert that Joyce said:

“I’m really embarrassed, but I don’t have your present yet. It’s supposed to come tomorrow, since we were going to get together tomorrow night.”

“Oh,” I said, remembering that there’d been no gift from the boys in the morning and that I hadn’t gotten a birthday present all day. I couldn’t guess what kind of a timely gift Joyce would have gotten for me, but I reckoned that, whatever it was, it’d be worth waiting one more day for.

When we got back to Joyce’s house, she threw another wrench into the works by saying that she had a super early meeting in the office and would I mind if I didn’t spend the night? That was pretty weird – I mean, it’s happened before, but very rarely, and certainly not on my birthday.

“What about tomorrow night?,” I then asked.

“That’s when I have the thing I thought I had tonight,” she explained.

So, a little puzzled, I climbed into the shitbox and drove home. It finally stopped raining and the sky was clear, so it was going to be a nice day Wednesday. That was good: I reckoned me and the boys could have some fun outside, even if it felt like it was going to be too cold to go swimming.

It was late when I got home, and everyone was asleep. Gechitzik was up in one of the boys’ rooms (I always forget whose turn it is to have him which nights), and everything was super quiet. Even Maya and Robert’s light was off.

I didn’t think too much of it, and made my way back to the pool house. I was still stuffed from dinner, and was ready to pass out on the bed. I forced myself to put on my pajamas, since I didn’t want to fall asleep in my good suit, and then I did pass out.



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