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More cake, please.

July 31, 2009

My birthday began the night before with a glass of wine on the porch of my next-door neighbor, Yoga Mom, a nice surprise and a pleasant hour looking at her lovely garden. The morning of my actual birthday, I got up early to go to the DMV because, as I think I mentioned before, I am an idiot and cannot be trusted to turn in my forms on time these days.

Going to the DMV is traditionally a painful experience. It is one of those universals in American life. Everyone hates the DMV. When we lived downtown, the Secretary of State’s office was only a few blocks away. It took me all of five minutes to get there on foot, even if I hit all the red lights. But the trip to renew your license would inevitably involve at least three hours of waiting in line, no matter what time of day you showed up. So I learned to dread the DMV.

The thing is, out here, it’s really not that bad. I have to drive about a half an hour away to get there, but it is largely through rolling hills, past picturesque red barns and fields of corn and soybeans edged with Queen Anne’s Lace and chickory. By the time I got there (after taking a right in front of Farm and Fleet, the enormous store that sells everything from Levis to livestock feed), It was 8:10 and I’d finished my morning coffee. I walked inside, ten minutes after they opened.

Now I’ve been warned that in the winter, going early is a mistake, because the farmer’s get up early and come in at opening. But at the height of the season, the place was the complete opposite of any other DMV I’ve ever been to: There were about 50 people working and only two of us needing services. And the other one wanted a road test. I walked up to the main desk and said I was here for renewal. He pointed me to the next counter to his right. A hard-boiled woman with bleach blond hair smiled at me and told me to stick my face in the eye-screen. I read the line and she checked off my form. She read off my address, height and weight. “Anything changed,”

“Well, my weight…” I trailed off.

She gave me a hard look. “You look the same to me.” She told me to sign here and here and waved me down to the cashier, who took my forms and my check and told me to sit in the camera waiting area.

The camera waiting area was completely empty. My butt had barely grazed the top of the chair when I was called over to the camera. One snap, and back to the waiting area until the laminating machine had done its thing. I was in and out with a brand new license in under 8 minutes. And the best part? The picture is great. I think it’s all the absence of aggravation involved in the process.

After I came back, I entertained calls and email and facebook messages from various people wishing me happy birthday. I’m pretty sure that, thanks largely to facebook, I’ve never had so many people wish me happy birthday in my life. It was fun. And thanks to all of you. I taught a private water aerobics class at someone’s home pool for a woman who was hosting a luncheon. The ladies were hilarious and one of them turned out to be the sister of a former coworker of mine. We had a good time and the hostess sent me home with a big plate of lunch, when I said I couldn’t stay.

When I got home, Mr. Spy and AJ had decorated the kitchen with Happy Birthday signs. Mr. Spy had baked a whole wheat pizza crust and proceeded to spread it with sour cream topped with smoked salmon and assorted herbs and edible flowers from my garden. It was gorgeous. I wish I had a picture, but it was also delicious so it was completely gone. After lunch, AJ could not wait for presents. He gave me a card he had made out of a big piece of construction paper with a large piece of one corner cut off. “Why did I cut this off?” it reads, with an arrow pointing to the missing corner. “It is a piece of my heart that I am giving to you because IT’S YOUR B-DAY!!!!!!” Many hearts and a birthday cake cover the rest of the card. It made me laugh long and hard.

Mr. Spy made me a card too. His features a martini glass sitting on a table. Inside shows the same picture, but the glass is tipped over. He says I’m intoxicating and came with a copy of J. Courtney Sullivan’s Commencement, which is set at my alma mater. I predict I will hate and love it at the same time and that I will read it in under 2 hours.

Oh, and there was cake. Small, vanilla with vanilla icing. AJ and I will be fighting over the leftovers.

Mr. Spy’s card was supposed to be part of a birthday theme. The plan was that we were going to go downtown to a swanky cocktail bar/speakeasy/Edwardian social club called The Velvet Hour (and how could I not love a bar named after a line from a poem by T.S. Eliot?). But our first shift babysitter (Mr. Spy’s sister) called in sick. So we decided to go to dinner out here instead and do the bar some other time.

Our second shift babysitter (Mr. Spy’s brother) arrived in time to take AJ to his piano lesson while Mr. Spy and I got organized. Our departure plans were hampered somewhat by a tornado that appeared, on the weather map, to be headed our way, but which fortunately never arrived. After the scary weather had passed, we took a scenic drive to one of our favorite restaurants and found a small high top in the bar, where we had cocktails and many delicious French foods and eavesdropped on the women discussing their hairdressers, which I’m pretty sure is exactly what we did the last time we were there. Afterwards, we headed toward another town and a favorite creperie for desert. On our way, we stopped at the quirky Riverside Chocolate Factory for treats for our fearless babysitter and also for AJ, who probably didn’t really deserve them. We continued on, dined on crepes suzettes (while eavesdropping on a table of women discussing diamond rings–all these overheard conversations are giving my gender a bad name), and came home by farm roads, watching an impressive sunset the entire way, horses eating from hayracks in the fields silhouetted against the sky, lots of fawns frolicking at the edge of the woods under the watchful eyes of their mamas.

AJ was still up and watching the Sox game with his uncle. We tucked him in and collapsed.

It was a nice day. And now, back to the grindstone.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. freshhell permalink
    July 31, 2009 1:13 pm

    Sounds like a wonderful birthday!

  2. July 31, 2009 2:35 pm

    What a marvelous birthday! I’m glad you had fun.

  3. lemming permalink
    July 31, 2009 2:54 pm

    Happy Birthday!

    I lost 35 pounds between DMV pictures; they didn’t lower the number either. (sad face)

  4. July 31, 2009 6:50 pm

    Did you get my card? I mailed it Monday, but that may not have been soon enough to get there on time.

  5. July 31, 2009 9:20 pm

    Julia, yes, yes! Thank you so much. It is very cute. AJ almost stole it away. And now he’s thinking a dachshund might be a fair substitute for a corgie. It actually arrived Wednesday and I’ve been very delinquent in thanking you for it. Lemming, I’m very sorry to hear that. About the DMV, that is. The 35 pounds is WOW.

  6. The Lass permalink
    August 1, 2009 8:56 am

    It sounds as if you had a lovely birthday – the Spy men took good care of you!!

  7. missterioso permalink
    August 2, 2009 1:35 pm

    Gosh, it seems like there’s no need to wish you a belated happy birthday as that wish has already been granted! 🙂

  8. August 2, 2009 9:05 pm

    I thought Lemming was looking slimmer! My license still lists the weight I gave them when I was 16. When my daughter got her permit this spring, her weight was the same. I showed her my license. She showed me the expression on her face. It was pretty funny.

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