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Mom's birthday party

For Saturday's breakfast with the family, it's usually just me and Mom and my sister Katrina. Last weekend, though, Katrina had to cancel because she was too busy prepping the church for my mother's big birthday party that afternoon, and Mom wasn't there because Katrina is her ride.

Cranky Old Fart
#212

Wednesday,
Oct 19, 2022

Katrina had texted me that they weren't coming, but I took a booth at the front of the diner instead of my preferred counter seat, in case someone else from the family showed up. Which sometimes happens, but not often.

At 9:00 I was still alone, and at 9:15 I was still alone. No brothers, cousins, or nephews walked in and sat with me. It was just me.

There are pitiable fools who'd be embarrassed to eat alone at a diner, and I am of course a pitiable fool, but not that one. Breakfast alone was marvelous. Nobody told me my teeth are ugly, or asked how much longer I can survive unemployed. Not being there, my mom didn't say anything that made me nuts or angry, so in a sense it was the best family breakfast ever.

An old, thin, bald man at the opposite end of the diner seemed to be staring at me, so I stared back at him. He kept staring and it started to piss me off, and I was ready to walk back there and saying something snide to him, before I realized… 

He wasn't staring at me. I was in a booth at the front of the diner, facing the back wall. He was at the back, eating alone, and looking out the window at the front of the diner. It's not much of a view — parking lot, busy street — but it's the diner's only window. 

Sorry, old bald man, for almost yelling at you.

After breakfast, I bused home and spent a few hours farting around, and then began the three-bus journey across south Seattle — #99, #560, #105 — to my mom's church, for her birthday party.

Parties are poison to me, and I don't like being inside a church, but Katrina's been planning this for months, and months ago it seemed so far in the distance that I'd said I'd be there.

Back then, the party was gonna be at someone's house, but Mom has too many friends for anyone's house, so they had to borrow her church. Sigh.

No, I didn't bring a present. I am not a birthday party guy, and definitely not a birthday present guy. I was there. That was my present for my mom.

As my bus rattled across town, I wrote in my notebook: "If you loved me, if you knew me, you wouldn't invite me to a damned party." Over-dramatic, perhaps, but also true. Of course, I'd accepted the invitation, so it was my fault, nobody else's.

I wasn't pumped about attending, though, and figured I'd stay for only as long as I wasn't viscerally uncomfortable or bored stupid. Walking into the church, I found a place to hang my jacket, and then walked into the sanctuary and there I was, and there was the party.

Balloons. Streamers. Cake and food and punch. About fifty people were in the room, about twenty of whom were family, the rest strangers.

My presence at such events is rare, so I was immediately ordered to stand for a series of photos, taken by my brother Dick, then by my brother Clay, then by my sister Katrina. It took about five minutes, and I hated it.

I've seen the pictures, and I wasn't smiling. Not even a fake smile. All I was thinking was, is this over yet?

After that, though, the party was… OK. The cake was good, and the pizza was cold but good, and I sat at a table where Adelle had been sitting alone.

She's my sister's best friend, and has been forever. Like Katrina, she's three years older than me. When I was a kid, Adelle was a crush, which is a polite way to say that I beat holes into my socks in her honor.

Now most of her family is gone, so Adelle sometimes comes to our family events. I'm no longer infatuated, but she's uncomfortable in crowds, too, and she's someone I know and like, so Adelle and I talked, about nothing in particular.

After a while Mom sat down with me and Adelle. The three of us talked for a long time, and — I can't believe this, but — at no point did my mother say anything rude, judgmental, prying, or insulting.

I didn't mingle, because I'm not a mingler. I've tried mingling a few times in life, and it's always been a disaster. Instead I stayed with Mom and Adelle, and only got out of my chair to fetch more pizza for them, and for me.

And cake. There were two cakes (one chocolate, one vanilla), and I had three pieces of vanilla and two pieces of chocolate. I tend to eat when I'm feeling stressed, and there's no way I'm not stressed at a birthday party inside a church.

When someone started boxing up the last of the cakes, I told my Mom that I love her, and told Adelle that I wished I'd had the balls to talk to her for so long fifty years ago. Then I said goodbye, and walked to the bus stop down the street, to start my three-bus journey home.

I'd been at the party for 2½ hours, and hadn't been viscerally uncomfortable or bored stupid. Feels like me and the family are making progress. 

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♦ ♦ ♦ 

The first commercially-produced typewriter 

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Triple-Pope who sold the papacy 

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Mystery links
"Like life itself, there's no knowing where you're going"

click

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♫♬  Mix tape of my mind  ♫

"Ashes" by Screamin' Jay Hawkins
"Dog Police" by Dog Police
"Heart Attack and Vine" by Screamin' Jay Hawkins
"Temptation" by Screamin' Jay Hawkins 

♦ ♦ ♦

The End

Stephanie Dabney
Grace Glueck
Leonard Kriegel 
Judy Tenuta

 10/19/2022   

Cranky Old Fart is annoyed and complains and very occasionally offers a kindness, along with anything off the internet that's made me smile or snarl. All opinions fresh from my ass. Top illustration by Jeff Meyer. Click any image to enlarge. Comments & conversations invited.  

Tip 'o the hat to Linden Arden, ye olde AVA, BoingBoing, Breakfast at Ralf's, Captain Hampockets, CaptCreate's Log, John the Basket, LiarTownUSA, Meme City, National Zero, Ran Prieur, Voenix Rising, and anyone else whose work I've stolen without saying thanks. 

Extra special thanks to Becky Jo, Name Withheld, Dave S, Wynn Bruce, and always Stephanie...

2 comments:

  1. Its not an earthshattering story but after reading so much about your family, a nice night with your mother is a welcome and wholesome surprise.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Having a family would be nice. It's why I moved back to Seattle.

    I've mostly given up on friends.

    ReplyDelete

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