Recommended wine for today’s entry: Went out to celebrate my NOT a big birthday last night with the girls … and we tried a chardonnay we’d never seen before, called Le Faux Frog. It is actually from Toad Hollow Winery, made with grapes from the Limoux region of France. It’s not oaked, a good match for our salads, and not too filling for a evening of merriment! Oh, and it’s VERY inexpensive – our glasses were just about $6 each!
Many of my friends will be experiencing a “big” birthday in the coming year. We all know what a “big” birthday is … those dreaded multiples of 10.
I had a loyal reader ask me to write a “dos and don’ts” of the big birthday. I think the main thing – at least from my perspective – is DO let your spouses know what you REALLY want. And it is NOT a surprise party.
When we’re teens, we wish, wish, wish our friends would throw us a surprise party. We practice the surprised look in the mirror – and we look GOOD with our surprised look. We round every corner for like a week straight with our eyebrows raised, prepped for the moment the flash will illuminate our attractively surprised face. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t.
Personally, I have been the victim of a surprise party once.
My junior year in college, my boyfriend (now my husband, but no thanks to this event) had a surprise party for me. I don’t remember all the details – you’ll understand why very soon – but he had it in my on-campus apartment and my roommates and I were the four girls invited. Then he called his frat house and asked if anyone was out sitting on the sofa that was in the mud puddle at the edge of their property (where only the finest intellectuals our school had to offer could be found on a Friday night) … and they all came over too. So now we have my husband, his fraternity, me, and my three roommates. And a full-size keg.
Then my husband, who, I will admit, really did have the flu, went back to his apartment. Then my roommates went to another party. In case this scenario is too complex for you, that would leave the sofa-sitters from my husband’s fraternity, me and the keg.
I think at some point a few of us walked over to the mini-mart in the basement of the building that smelled like curry and bought some Totino’s Party Pizzas and Fig Newtons. I think that, because the next day, when I cleaned my apartment for like three hours, I scraped the burnt cheese from the bottom of the oven. And I wondered what in the hell the brown grainy stuff was in the ashtray (the innards of a dissected Fig Newton – I told you it was the curious intellectuals who sat on the sofa on the corner).
My practiced surprise face for the photo? Undocumented. Nobody took a picture. In their defense, it was just basically my roommates yelling surprise and we didn’t have digital cameras. I think we had Kodak Instamatics, but by the time you paid for the flash bulbs, you couldn’t afford tuition.
Like nearly everything else, surprise parties are only for the young.
It’s sad, but men take note here: when women say that we DON’T want surprise parties for our 50th birthdays, we mean it.
For one thing, unexpected outings are bad in general.
You know how you bitch that it takes us so long to put on our makeup? You don’t know the half of it. If we have somewhere REALLY cool to go on a weekend night – where a lot of people will see us – we have to start like mid-week. There’s the manicure/pedicure, the roots touch-up, the three-day self-tanner/teeth-bleaching regiment, the water-retention pills, …
So if you really want to surprise us, surprise us on Tuesday by telling us there’s a party on Saturday.
And by 50, it doesn’t matter how long we practice our surprised face, when we finally close our mouth – and we have to eventually – all the skin pools back down there in those wads by our chin. And one of our buddies, slow on the draw with the digital, will take a pic just a few seconds too late and capture that moment.
That will be the one friend who knows how to post pictures on their Facebook page.
Also, half the people our spouses or friends decide to invite will have done something to piss us off recently. This is because we are menopausal. When we see the person who has pissed us off, it will set off a hot flash, so now the birthday girl will have wadded up skin by her chin and sweat stains.
Another reason: We’ve seen all the “old age” gifts in the party store aisle and it’s too hard to feign amusement. I mean, the glass that says MY DRINK on it in gigantic letters because it’s so funny that we’re farsighted, or the cane with the horn and the sign on it … we’ve seen all those a million times.
That’s because every time we go to the liquor store to buy 12 bottles of wine for our own consumption, we browse that aisle and pick up a couple knick-knacks so that the cashiers don’t think we’re drinking all that wine ourselves. The party aisle purchases lead them to believe that we actually entertain every single weekend. And don’t tell me they don’t believe that…they do. I know they do.
And listen up here, men: A surprise party in your wife’s home is NOT A PARTY. Your wife will spend the entire time wondering who saw her dirty underwear on the laundry room floor and if anyone is talking about how filthy the toilet in the powder room is. Then the next day, when she’s cleaning the cooked-on chili out of the crock pot, she’s not thinking happy thoughts about her happy birthday.
So when your wife says she doesn’t want a surprise party … she’s telling the truth.
When she says she doesn’t want you to spend a lot on her gift … she’s lying.