Last week was my birthday. It fell on a Monday, and since September is always a stressful time, my husband and I decided to officially celebrate it on the Saturday after the day. Which means that on the actual day of my birthday, it felt like a very lonely Monday. I also started the day with a 7:00am abdominal ultrasound to check for gallstones, which, if you must know, is a lousy way to start the week.
I did manage to call my husband and feebly ask if we could go to lunch on my birthday, and he had made lunch plans with a friend, miscalculating in his head how long my ultrasound would last. He said, “I didn’t think we could go to lunch today—didn’t you have your doctor’s appointment?”
“Yeah. At seven in the morning.”
“Well, I thought it would last longer.”
“You thought it would last 5 hours?”
I asked if I could at least join him for lunch with him and his friend, and to his friend’s credit, when he found out that it was my birthday, he immediately bowed out and let us enjoy our lunch together.
Then my husband came home after work and said, “What’s for dinner?”
“Ummm, it’s my birthday. I’m not cooking.”
“Well, I don’t want to cook, either.”
“Looks like we’re ordering pizza then.”
“Great. Hey, you should get that lava cake from Domino’s, since it’s your birthday. That could be, like, your birthday cake!”
I’ve never ordered the lava cake from Domino’s, and I *am* a sucker for a good lava cake. And the pictures have always looked good, so I shrugged and figured, why not?
Let me assure you that those little lava cakes are, in fact, tiny little guys, and the reason you need three stacked up like a little tower is because alone, they are just a sad and pathetic chocolate treat, as chocolate treats go.
I looked down at my little sad lava cakes and said, “Do I get a candle?” My husband jumped up and said, “Yes! Let’s get a candle, and we can sing!” He rummaged around the kitchen for a few minutes, then came back to the table empty handed.
“I couldn’t find any candles. Here, let’s just use this.”
He lit a match, and stuck it in one of my sad little pathetic lava cake. I looked at it, curling into a twisted black wisp as it burned. It was like sticking a moth eaten sweater on a mangy dog.
It burned before the kids could even sing, “And maaany moorrrrre….”
The whole thing, for whatever reason, made me want to cry.
“Couldn’t I have a real cake?” I asked my husband, trying to keep my voice level, my tone light.
He saw it, though, the tremor in my lip, the shining in my eyes, and said soothingly, “Well, you know, we’re going out with friends on Saturday, I didn’t think….”
I nodded, and tried to control my silly emotions. I’m 38, who needs a dopey cake anyways? I reminded myself I was just feeling raw and tired from the early morning ultrasound and some of the health implications it may have.
We did go out and play with our friends that weekend, and we had a wonderful time. Towards the end of the night, my husband said, “I got cake! Who wants cake!” and he pulled out a chocolate cake that, unbeknownst to me, he’d picked up at the store sometime during the day. We sat down on some outdoor picnic tables by an ice-cream store and served it up. One of my friends laughed and said, “Your husband told my husband that he had to pick up a cake for you. We laughed and said, ‘What, is Heather 7?’” I laughed with them, but then thought, “Yes. Yes I am.”
So I learned something about myself this weekend, something I never really knew.
For my birthday, I wasn’t upset that my husband didn’t get me a present (I told him to save our money, and I meant it), I don’t need flowers, or a fancy dinner, or a even a romantic evening alone with my husband (although all those things would be nice).
But cake? Apparently, I need cake, dang it. And it better be chocolate, and it better have icing on it, and it better not come from a pizza store and it better have real candles and not some sad little match that burns before I can even blow it out.
Sheesh, who knew I was so fussy?
I’m sure there are some larger implications about this story, like America’s obsession with sweet things, or having a food ritual to celebrate something, or the pathological selfishness one expresses on one’s birthday that is ingrained in us at an early age.
I’m not sure I care, though. I really enjoyed my cake.
What are some things you need to make you feel special on your birthday?