Monday, July 13, 2009

Minor Miscalculation

Women and birthdays. Just... putting the two together like that is enough to make grown men shudder, if they have any sense at all.

Natalie has never been particularly sensitive about her age. But neither has she made much fuss of birthdays, and she's been kind of snarky about the big fuss made over things like 21sts and 30ths and so forth. In general, I arrange for the kids to find cards and presents for her, and she gets a bit of a lie-in and something nice for tea, and a bit of free time and a cake, and everybody goes away happy.

So. Natalie turned 40 in February. Very nicely, I might add. She still fits her wedding dress of fourteen years ago. Both of us have lines we didn't back then, and streaks of silver here and there, but on the other hand, as I mentioned quite forcefully to a friend just a few day ago, we have three children. Silver is a thing you can earn.

Anyway, I took a look at that whole '40' thing, and I thought long and hard. And in the end, I made a judgement call, and kept it all very low key indeed. Because I figured -- you know, she's not such a one for birthdays anyway, and if ever a birthday was going to give a woman pause, it would be the 40th.

Unfortunately, the judgement call was out. By quite a lot. Remember that Harmison first ball in the last Ashes series? Yeah, it was that far out. Second slip. Apparently, what I should have done was organise a large and thronging crowd for cocktails, music, barbecue, and roistering.

There's a thing, right there. As anybody who knows my wife will point out, cocktails and roistering, noise and crowds are not on the list of things she's likely to sing about when confronted by a family of Austrians trying to escape the Nazis. In fact, she rather goes out of her way to avoid such shenanigans. (And escaping Austrians - as does any sensible person.)

Thus it was that I have to profess myself extraordinarily grateful to Uphill Neighbour Mad Mike the Historian and his marvellous wife Eddy. They just sort of... decided... that there Would Be A Party. And be damned if it was July.

See, I could never have done that. If I'd tried, it would simply have been 'too late', as it is for every husband who gets the signals mixed up like that. And it would have been 'too late' for the next ten years or so, I reckon. But Mike is a man of Certain Energies, and so invitations were made, and food was prepared, and the very fine House Uphill was made ready...

... actually, it was a pretty decent party. Mike cooked his not inconsiderable arse off, providing a range of tasty Greek main courses. Anna the Wondermum brought her brood, and also provided the most amazingly beautiful Trad Swedish gingerbread house, complete with Trad Swedish M&M decorations, and there were desserts and lemon squares and kids underfoot and wine and bubbly, and all manner of good things. Of course, the weather was shabby which kept the Launceston musical contingent in check... but that just meant there was more tasty stuff to go around.

And yours truly prepared a remarkable array of toothsome hors d'ouevres, and has therefore hopefully redeemed himself to a degree.

Therein endeth the lesson, gentlemen: if you've screwed the pooch and missed a birthday you should have feted, best hope you have an emphatic, energetic Greek-cooking comrade to bail you out...


  1. as it is for every husband who gets the signals mixed up like that. And it would have been 'too late' for the next ten years or so, I reckon.

    Join the club. DAM, I thought it was just

  2. One suspects that "signals" occur as a test, and should be ignored. I managed a pretty decent surprise party the year before Mrs Damian's 40th, so it wasn't too hard to organise it together the following year.

  3. Wow - sounds like a great party.

  4. I can understand where you were coming from though being that I'm not all that into my birthday either. 40 is a touchy one so you're not sure if someone wants to mark it or sweep it under the rug anyways. When one of the Dr.'s I work for turned 40 he took the week off and threatened to murder us if we even mentioned it. But it sounds like you guys have great friends who made it a joyous event.

  5. Ah yes...I am flippant about birthdays because they invariably disappoint...but secretly I want people to make a fuss but if you have to ask it ain't the same...I know...women are tres tedious.

  6. Women aren't 'tedious'. They're "lethally unpredictable".

  7. And by "lethally unpredictable," I'm sure you mean that men are the New York Central Park to women's Australian Outback? Because that's how I read it.

    And Austrians aren't anything to be concerned with, they're a lot less intimidating since they had to give up Hungary.

  8. I adore Austria but don't know too many Austrians personally.

    Nat is spot on. We don't want to ask cause it ruins it. We want the unexpected. We don't always know what we want but we figure you should. ha!

    I'm coming back as a guy.

    Or my dog.

    I would have sent her Matt Malloy had I remembered her birthday. i'm sure he would have come! HE likes her!! heh.

    40 didn't bother me. 43 did for some weird reason. And 52 isn't grand...body is changing in wicked gravitational ways. Horrid. I don't like this getting older part.

    As for hair, I have a white strip where my roots are showing as my hairdresser is in Michigan and I'm in Montana. I don't like that either. It's SILVER! Keee-rist.

  9. Getting older is indeed a waste of a perfectly good human organism. Who the hell designed this piece of crap? "Lifetime guarantee" my arse...

  10. Steve -- it's the large families of singing Austrians you must fear.

  11. If the Nazis just took care of the singing Austrians, and nobody else, I think the rest of the world would've been a lot better with Nazi philosophy.

  12. Hmm. In principle, it's a difficult question: if Auschwitz and its like had been solely to deal with large families of singing Austrians... would it still have been a 'holocaust'? Or would it have been 'pesticide'?

    My conscience is battling with me on this one...

  13. It might've simply been a "Neighborhood Cleanup" project.

    I realize this could be a slippery slope issue, but are there any other groups where it would've been acceptable to exterminate? Polish accordian players, for example? Philadelphia sports fans? Brewers that make only light lager?

  14. Hmmm. Those camps are gettin' crowded!

  15. We'll put them all in Toronto's hockey arena. Lord knows there hasn't been any actual hockey played there in decades.

  16. That is all fine and dandy but where were our invitations???

  17. know, that never occurred to me. Would you have made the jaunt from Melbourne? I really should have thought about that. It would have been lovely to have you both there.