I didn’t really want to do anything for my birthday this year, but that would have been like putting a knife through AK’s social butterfly heart, and it would have flat-out confused my dad, who has learned all social skills phonetically. He knows that birthday = dinner + presents + cake. My aunt Marc was in town from Michigan on Sunday, my actual birthday, so my grandma rounded up the usual suspects for dinner at her place. It took twenty minutes for me to assure my dad that it was okay to have a non-birthday-themed dinner on my birthday. To remove presents and cake from the occasion would have knocked his world right off its axis. Also, I really like cake.
Saturday AK and I convened a small handful of friends at Pure Luck, a veggie restaurant that wooed the non-veggie AK with its adorable happy pig logo. “Look at that pig!” she said. “If he needed a place to stay for a while, I would totally volunteer our house.” It was a funny menu—sort of vegan southern Mexican. You can order “pulled pork” or “carnitas,” both made from jackfruit, then chase it with fried pickles. I like a veggie restaurant that’s not afraid to fry something, unlike Buddha’s Belly, where AK and I ate with Jenessa on Friday night. They were a tad too quick to steam things and sprinkle them with four drops of oyster sauce.
Despite my firm “it’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to” stance, dinner was lovely. Just knowing you have friends you could cry around makes you not feel like crying so much. AK brought a tasty if strangely Fourth of July-ish tres leches cake, which the chef refused to plate because it wasn’t vegan (should we have said it was tres soy milks?). But they gave us a stack of dishes and also told us that the coffee shop across the street was open if we wanted to duck out and get a latte to go. They’re very DIY over there at Pure Luck.
Christine asked if I had any birthday resolutions. “Just to take one day at a time and not obsess over the future too much,” I said, “which is sort of a non-resolution.”
Cathy thought it was funny that Christine approached birthdays like a to-do list. “Close your eyes and blow out the candles and make a resolution!” she said.
On Sunday AK met Marc for the first time. Afterward she remarked how laidback and nonjudgmental Marc is when it comes to her kids’ life choices and occasional drama. (Her son Cayle had been reminiscing about getting kicked out of continuation school.) I agreed that that’s something I’ve always loved about Marc: Drama is not the end of the world in their family. My dad and sister, on the other hand, talked about how they couldn’t watch the Olympics because it was just so agonizing to watch hard-working athletes lose. Can you see why I think every hangnail is a case of terminal finger cancer?
Still, I wouldn’t trade those worrywart Kleins for the world, or my drama-loving extended family, or my party-loving esposa, or my patient, amiable friends. Also, I really liked all the cake.