I am actually writing this on my Birthday Eve. Which is a term that we use at our house. We also use “Birthday Eve Eve” or “Birthday Week.” Usually when the Birthday Person is pointing out how the rest of the family can contribute to the multi-day Festival Of The Birthday by offering up favors and excusing the BP from normal duties around the household.
This is a Landmark Birthday: I am turning 50! As M said, “Wow, how does it feel to be half a century? How does it feel to have your life half over?” And I looked at her, appalled, and she said, “What? I was being generous! I’m saying you’ll live to be a hundred! That’s good!” And I said, “So, what you’re really asking is how does it feel to know that my life is likely more than halfway over?” and she continued to dig her hole from there, but I think you get the point.
There was supposed to be a physically-distanced surprise celebration over the weekend, but those plans were torpedoed by a COVID exposure through Cute W’s work. Poor guy! He was really upset at how things got screwed up, especially since Saturday turned out to be beautiful and the upcoming Saturday is looking potentially cold and rainy. Beyond that, things are still not normal because we’re isolating him a bit until he gets a negative test result back. It seems highly likely that he’ll end up totally fine, but in the meantime, to be safe, he is wearing a mask and not lingering when he goes in the house except for our master suite, which is his isolation spot. And I’m sleeping down in the basement playroom. And we are taking tragic walks together where we both where masks and stay several feet apart. So that is a huge, huge bummer.
Under normal circumstances, W would make me some sort of birthday dessert item, but since he’s isolating, he assigned that task to the girls. As it happened, we had already decided that my birthday treat would be the traditional chocolate cake that we make when we bake chocolate cake. But, y’all, it is a bit of a challenging recipe. I mean, the girls randomly bake things on their own all the time. But having to prepare a make-it-only-a-few-times-a-year Special Family Classic for a high-stakes birthday was a lot of pressure for them! While there dad was outside doing work, the girls worked on this project, and honestly, I think that they were just getting a little panicky, because they were absolutely peppering me with questions, not all of which, well, fully demonstrated their intelligence:
- “Wait, this isn’t our normal brand of butter. It says ‘Salted Sweet Cream Butter’. . . can I still use that?”
- “Granulated sugar is just our sugar, right?”
- “Do we have a food scale?”
- “How do we make this food scale ounces instead of grams?”
- “These are semisweet chips, right? Do we usually add some 60% chips, too?”
- “Do we use this blue pan as the third pan?”
- “What do you usually use to grease the pan?”
- “What do we use as a double boiler?”
- “When you mix this up, do you usually use the KitchenAid or the hand mixer?
- “Do you think this chocolate has cooled enough to mix it in?”
- “When do you put this frosting in the fridge?”
- “Would you put it in now, or mix some more?”
- “Is this frosting the right consistency, do you think, for doing a crumb coat?”
- “Can you help me get this layer onto the plate, please?”
- “Should I put this frosting back in the fridge, do you think?”
W walked into the kitchen at one point long enough to remind them that baking the cake also meant cleaning up the kitchen as you go. Later I walked into the kitchen and, while there was clear evidence that some items had been cleaned, there was also a pile of powdered sugar on the counter and splatters of frosting on the cabinets. I started laughing so hard that I bent over to try to contain myself. Which I understand did not seem very supportive. But I was answering all those questions, wasn’t I?
Then finally, finally, J approached me with the best question, the question that I’ll usually ask the girls,
- “Could you please, just as a favor to me, remove and taste test the rest of this icing before I clean this pot?”
And I answered the traditional way, saying that I would be happy to provide this necessary and onerous service.
UPDATE: As a special birthday treat, Cute W’s test came back negative, so I get to move back into our bedroom.
And look! I successfully completed one of my Pandemic Projects: I have re-acquired a skill of yore by getting all the way down into a split. So, yay me!