I wrote last week about my proclivity for organization and planning. But for some reason, the act of arranging activities to celebrate my July 31 birthday sucked the life out of me.
Usually, my birthday — and all that it implies — is the highlight of my year. I am a Leo after all, and it’s the only day when my overly inflated ego is justified, accepted and even expected. A whole day all about me? Well, hell yes. In fact, let’s make it a week!
I’ve been kind of blah about the whole deal-io this year. First of all, 41 is not a milestone and doesn’t warrant any particular fanfare. Plus I don’t have anyone in my life who is obligated to fawn over me. I am single, and my son is (technically) grown. His priorities do not include making sure his momma feels properly feted on her birthday.
The big day fell on Wednesday this year, so planning something suitably celebratory wasn’t feasible. I scheduled a relaxing facial with a lovely friend who recently enrolled in cosmetology school, and then she took me to lunch.
I had cleared my work calendar and basically took the day off, which was a welcome luxury. If the weather had been nice, you can bet your sweet arse I would have been at the pool.
Later, my mom made a classically Southern, caloric clusterfuck of a meal for dinner — fried steak, mashed taters and gravy — and in lieu of a cake, she picked up some chocolate éclairs from Plehn’s bakery in St. Matthews at my request. If you have never had a Plehn’s éclair, go there NOW. They are divine. I would swear that they put crack in the custard.
Anyhoo, the day came and went, and it was fine, if not fabulous. Most of the people who are important to me took the time to wish me well, with only a couple of notable exceptions. I felt loved and cherished, and I spent most of the evening counting my many blessings.
The out-on-the-town portion of my b-day celebration was set for this past Saturday. And settling the details for that night is what made me want to stab, poke and flail at anything or anyone in my general vicinity.
It was silly, really. I couldn’t get confirmation on how many people intended to come, which made dinner reservations a challenge. I finally guessed at a number Saturday morning, but by that time I couldn’t get a reservation at either of the two fine-dining joints I called.
My reaction? Throw myself on the floor and have a tantrum.
Fortunately, that only happened in my head. And only for about two minutes. Then I had the good sense to call my best friend, and she talked me off my ledge.
She suggested we go back to the patio at O’Shea’s Irish Pub, where we have each celebrated countless birthdays (hers is in two weeks). I balked, but then started reliving some of the memories from birthdays past. There are a few that still haunt me to this day (in a good way, mostly.)
Yep, at first, I was not thrilled about the idea because I wanted to do something different and actually eat somewhere NICE for a change. The food at O’Shea’s is a hell of a lot better than it used to be, but it’s still bar food.
The more I thought about it, though, I realized it was a no-brainer. Especially since I was beginning to have heart palpitations over the idea of formulating alternate plans. O’Shea’s is comfortable, easy, and there would be plenty of room for how ever many people decided to show up.
So I said fuck it and reserved a table there for 7 p.m.
My plans also included spending the afternoon at The Flea Off Market with any friends who were not available that night. Several of them initially said they would meet me but flaked out at the last minute, which only added to my early morning anxiety.
But one awesome chica I had not seen in way too long did show up, and we had the BEST time. Love that girl. As we wandered and chit-chatted, I finally started to relax and get into a celebratory mood.
My attitude changed, and the day got better. Imagine that. *SIGH*
Anyhoo, by the time I went home, primped and rolled into O’Shea’s at 6:45 (looking hawt, if I do say so myself), I was buoyant and ready for a night on the town. When it was all said and done, 15 wonderful friends from all factions of my life came out to eat, drink (they drank; I didn’t) and be merry. It was fan-freakin-tastic. My jaw hurt from smiling.
And then, a couple of the other single ladies and I wandered on down to Baxter’s 942 Bar & Grill to hear one of the girls’ friend’s band. (Until this week, I didn't know the space wasn't Wet Willy's anymore, which shows you how long it has been since I went bar hopping. But I digress.)
I am SO glad I did not know the name of the band before I agreed to go — Cover Me Badd. Oh, they were baaaadddd alright, and not in a good way. They played ’90s Top 40 hits and some Lady Gaga, for Pete’s sake.
OK, to be fair, they were good at what they did — playing danceable cover tunes — and I had an inordinate amount of fun shaking this here tailfeather to their music. But don’t quit your day jobs, boys.
Being a nondrinker in a crowded bar is very entertaining, and some of the crowd’s antics made an already great night even better. And I had to giggle at myself when I nearly toppled out of my big-girl shoes a couple times. I was stone-cold sober, but I was NOT used to walking (let alone dancing) in 5-inch heels. Gravity nearly got the better of me, though I never actually hit the ground. But this old body was screaming at me as if it had taken a beating the next day.
Speaking of Sunday, after four blissful hours at Lakeside, I went out to dinner with my BFF, her husband and their 9-month-old son. I love that boy as if he belonged to me, so it was the perfect cap to what turned out to be a fabulous, if subdued, week of celebration.
All in all, I had a great birthday. I feel blessed, loved and appreciated. It’s all guuud.
I think my funk on Saturday in the midst of all that false-start planning comes down to the fact that I am not very good at being single in my 40s.
Turns out that, at my age, being social takes work, as I have written in this space before. Seems like the last time I was single five years ago, I was plugged into groups of people who planned stuff and invited me, so all I had to do was show up. Easy peasy. I miss those days, cuz it’s sure not happening this time around.
Part of the reason being social seems harder these days can be attributed to the absence of liquid courage that used to power me through social situations. And part of it is just an overall lifestyle change. I like to be home and in bed before midnight. Don’t invite me out to a club at 10 p.m. on a weeknight — I will never show up.
Also, being off the market and a self-imposed hermit for so long, I’m sure I am still lacking the confidence necessary to put myself out there. Sometimes, that ol’ saddle I’m trying to get back into seems WAY too high up on the horse. Maybe I need to pick a different saddle altogether. Or a different horse. I dunno.
Regardless, all of the single women I went out with this weekend talked about facing the same social challenges as me, and we all avowed ourselves to making plans together more often.
And if I have to be the lead “party planner” in those efforts, so be it. I need more practice in my big-girl shoes anyway.
About Amy Higgs
A former newspaper columnist, Amy takes her random, slice-of-life stories to the web. After 10 years, she's still just saying.