Okay, let's get the nonsense over with first. I hit another birthday yesterday. Or, at this juncture, maybe the birthdays are hitting me. Whatever.
This annual passage of a special day again conjures up photos like the one above of a birthday party from years past. That's me with the perplexed look on my face. The two kids alongside me are Susan, the daughter of my mom's best friend. The boy is Richie, son of my mother's slutty pal Marie. This is the neanderthal who loved to beat the shit out of me in some fake military games and also liked to make me take my shirt off. If Richie is still alive, he's probably in a prison shower as we speak with a broomstick in his hand.
If I go around the table of these kids birthday parties, I find some of my older cousins who clearly didn't want to be there. The rest of the young guests were all the offspring of my parents' friends. Kids I never saw unless there was a candle on a cake, whether it be my birthday or theirs. I was thrown together with this bunch over and over on special occasions or, even worse, vacations. And, frankly, I had no great rapport with any of them. Nor them with me.
But there I was. Forced to have them in my life.
Yes, another mystery of my life that will never be answered, primarily because my parents are both gone. The question I would put before them is simple.
How come I wasn't allowed to invite my real friends?
Oh, sure, I had some good ones. Two "up the block" for sure. My best friend from childhood Leo. Also right next door to him...Dolores. These were tried and true pals. They still hold the same status in my world to this day with Leo still a neighbor, albeit about fifteen miles away on the 405. When it came to my birthday party, however, where the hell were they?
Same with some good chums in school. Heck, a couple of us were together for almost six or seven years. Two, for instance, are Cheryl and Diane and we have all been reunited on Facebook. Now I do recall going to their homes because our mothers had all become friends as parents in grade school often do. But neither Cheryl or Diane ever came to my birthday party. Or, more specifically, were never invited.
I wish I knew why.
I do know that the planning of these affairs were a big deal to my mother. Every one went home with a prize or a toy. It seemed that she needed to hold the best and the grandest of all birthday parties. It was almost like she was in a competition with the other mothers.
Hey, in retrospect, I had a good childhood and was treated quite well. If this is the biggest complaint from back then, I am quite a lucky guy. But, every year at this time, it does gnaw at me a little.
I had terrific birthday parties. If only I could have shared it with real friends. But, as I think about it, I don't remember going to birthday parties in their homes either.
Another question for the ages.
Dinner last night: Baby back ribs and Brussels sprout slaw at Barrel and Ashes.