I just got back from a birthday party in LA. I left Chicago wearing long underwear, under a turtleneck, under a sweatshirt, under a polar fleece vest, all under a windbreaker. A pair of attractive flannel lined slacks with matching wool socks helped to complete my outfit. On the jetway in LA, I was gleefully peeling off clothes faster than a stripper in a sauna. Ah, the joys of wearing sandals in November.
A bunch of us flew in from the Chicago area to celebrate. I got in early last week so I could load up on sushi and imported Australian yogurt ahead of time. Because so many party-goers were from the Midwest, the birthday girl went old school with her cuisine the night the remaining Chicago contingent got there. She invited everyone over for pot roast with carrots, potatoes and gravy, a perfect menu, since raw fish is considered bait by a lot of Windy City types. I managed to polish off a good portion or two, topped with ice cream and a cookie for dessert.
The birthday party was held the next day at the swank Manhattan Beach Badminton Club in, of all places, Manhattan Beach. It sits in the middle of a neighborhood which wasn't there when the club was built in a big empty field sixty years ago. "Oh, look, everybody, there's a perfect place to put a huge building where we can play badminton."
Do you have a badminton club in your town? I think not. Bowling yes. Badminton, not so much. Only in California. The party girl has played well enough over the years to be ranked nationally at one time. She's also in the volleyball hall of fame. Biking. Hiking. Swimming. Softball. You name it. She's done it. Still works out at "the Nautilus" a couple of times a week.
The next day, after entertaining three houseguests, she wanted to come along to help set up for the party with the rest of us. But you don't have to; you're the birthday girl. She was coming anyway.
Unfortunately, after everybody loaded up and the car was about to leave for the venue, she got knocked on the head by her automatic garage door. This occurred as she pushed the button to close the door and run under it -- like everyone does -- but this time, this once, she didn't duck far enough.
Along with the consternation on the faces of those who witnessed the accident, there was a fair amount of blood gushing from a head wound and some serious damage to her party hairdo. Along with a reminder from her daughter, "I told you to stop doing that!!!"
Luckily there was a doctor in the group who kept pressure on the hole in her head and said she was still good to go. Not that something like a possible concussion would have kept her away. By party time, you couldn't tell she had been attacked by a rogue garage door. With the blood wiped off, her hair fluffed up quite nicely. No one would guess she almost landed in the emergency room as you watched her helping with the flowers and the tablecloths.
"Sit down, take it easy."
The party started at 4:30. Hors d'oeuvres. Dinner. Libations. Two birthday cakes. Every arriving guest got a picture taken with the party girl. Printed out and framed as a souvenir. A videocam captured well wishes from almost everyone.
We all sang Happy Birthday. Once for practice. Twice for the video. "You have to do it for the video!!" One of the little kids also sang Happy Birthday in Japanese.
The party ended around 9:00. And for the first time since she got there around 2:00, I saw the party girl finally sit down. With almost a hundred people to meet and greet, she was kept busy going from table to table saying hello to everyone.
Even at the end she was making sure everyone got a picture, had enough food, got enough cake, and took home some flowers.
Whew. That was some party.
Happy 90th birthday, Bertha.