It’s my birthday this weekend. I turned 348 and I can feel it in every dangly bit – every bit that used to be significantly higher than it is now. And every bit that was not as wide as it is now.
But I blame it all on birthdays themselves. I mean, what other point to them is there than cake and presents? Especially if the present is more cake. Or something sweet? Or really, anything that tastes good because you know if it tastes like crap, it’s probably good for you and who needs that sort of thing, especially on your birthday?
Being so ancient, I can pretend to be wise. Nod knowingly when someone asks me a hard question, the sort of question that only doddery people know the answers to. Like who was Bert Newton? This also works with stupid questions like when you have to correct (younger) people who question that LOL actually means Lots Of Love. They seem to think it has something to do with laughter. What a joke.
One of my favorite people in the world is a woman I went to school with – it was just the three of us back then, me, her and Wilma Flintstone. She is one of the best people in the world except for her one flaw. Her impeccable memory.
She remembers the good stuff: like when we were teenagers and she went to get her stunning long, black, straight Chinese hair permed while I thought about getting my frizzy rat tails straightened. I chickened out at the last minute. She, of course being the fabulous soul she was/is, didn’t.
After hours in the salon, where I encouraged her by reading aloud bits from magazines analysing whether eating Coco Pops for breakfast, lunch and dinner meant you were a serial killer, or if David Cassidy was really singing to us when he belted out I Think I love You or was just singing to himself.
By the time we got outside and, well, into the world, her perm dropped like a rock. Mine, in the wind, rose back up to its ratty self.
Ever since I’ve known her, she’s sent me a birthday card. It always arrives on the right day and it always, because I reckon she’s always had a vindictive streak, says my age, in big colourful texta printing, on the envelope. No, not on the inside of the envelope, but the outside. It even scares me how old I’ve become, and I should know.
I’ve always loved other people’s birthdays better. Loved seeing something I think they’ll like, and buy it.
If it’s not their birthday, I’ll still give it to them when I see it, that saves me remembering their special day, and everyone gets all warm and fuzzy more often.
There’s another friend I’d lay down my collection of snowdomes for – well, maybe not the Nelson Mandela one – but she’d probably say no thanks anyway, this woman of taste.
She, almost every year, gives me a present that I’ve given her or someone else has.
There’s a group of us old lags, women of a certain age who get together regularly to discuss the meaning of life, and usually solve it. Well, we solve it at the time, or for as long as the gin and tonics last.
Because she has such impeccable taste we all try to get her really nice stuff, in the hope that she’ll forget we gave it to her and she’ll give it back to one of us. She is so organised she even has a cupboard filled with stuff she reckons has re-gifting potential.
Because I’m clearly so much smarter than the average bear, I’ve worked out that she doesn’t much like chocolate, or at least the only one she does like is as dark as night and tastes like it – nothing. So I usually give her that Swiss one with not a smidgeon of darkness in it, the one that tastes like you’ve just reached heaven. Chances are I’ll get it back and we’re all happy.
My mum was perhaps one of the worst present-givers ever. She thought, because I didn’t have something, that I needed it. I have a drawer full of watches (I never wear) that she gave me, clothes that I would never ever wear – mainly because I lied to her when she asked me what size I was, and jewellery.
The jewellery is a different story, I keep that for special. She, long ago, decided I was a golden girl and for years bought me stunning earrings and necklaces, all designed for way better necks or ears than mine, but stunning all the same. (And only a few left green rings around my neck/ears so I’m thinking some of them were actually the real thing.)
I keep them in a special box, and wear them only at the most special of times.
This is one of those times – my first birthday without her. Missed. Loved.