Family Business | Happy Thoughts | Story Line

Story Line –> Of Birthdays

March 18, 2013

awkwardnessIt was a little pink dress with white polka dots on it, full bow in the back.  I loved that dress. My shoes were perfect. A little scuffed at the toes,  but that went well with the squeaky clean face, pigtails and crooked glasses. Hey, there are only so many times you can beat up a boy, fall off a horse and crawl through a haystack with your glasses intact.

Straight as an arrow next to Jennifer against yellow wallpaper in the dining room as Dad was taking pictures, my face hurt from holding that pleasant face so long.  She stood next to me in a borrowed dress, tiny but with the deepest dimples I’ve ever seen and her stick straight caramel hair smelled ever so slightly of smoke.  The awkwardness of our childhood in grown up clothes eclipsed by smiles from ear to ear.

Off we went from the farm house to the city.  A comfortable 45 mile drive.  Holding our coats and following quietly, we made our way through a sparkling lobby with brass fittings that glowed and glass that twinkled under chandelier light before walking across the soft carpets and straight up the elevator to the 21st floor.

The Lucky Diamond.  They were expecting us and we were ushered, ushered, to our reserved place.

Seated at a snowy white table next to floor to ceiling windows as Billings, MT sparkled under us like diamonds and rubies on a velvet plateau.  Our place settings, with starched linen napkins folded into soft lines and folds in the center,  had more silver ware and glasses  than I recognized.  The light from a low candle in a crystal vase flickered across all the beauty and took years from the faces across the table while adding mystery to our  enthusiasm. In a spotless black tuxedo sat a man behind a huge, glossy piano playing notes that danced through the candlelight.  He was singing slow, smooth songs that made all the worries of the day fade away.

Surely, I would never forget this night.  Never.

Jennifer and I tried to look refined, like we truly belonged,  while slowly reading the huge menu with the calligraphy fonts and heavy leather sleeve. “What’s a kabob?”, she whispered. I giggled back, “I don’t recognize any of the food here. What’s a pilaf?”

The waiter, with his shiny shoes came, and it was our turn to order.  I had the roast lamb kabobs, wild rice pilaf, and sautéed peppers. Now? I think that sounds lovely. Then? I only ordered it because it was the only thing I could pronounce on the menu. We ate slivers of warm bread, drank our water from wine glasses, and tried to look sophisticated while I worried I would use the wrong fork. I’m certain we looked every bit as awkward and gauche as we were but I remember feeling so elegant.

Dinner finally came. I don’t think I ate much. To say my palate had not evolved is gracious and kind compared to the shock to my system when I tried to eat. I remember liking the weird rice but soggy burned peppers and chewy lamb? Otherwise known as roasted, sautéed peppers and grilled lamb… Dessert came and the man with the wonderful voice sang “Happy Birthday” to me. To me. Jennifer and I bounced out of our very nice chairs and joined the man at his beautiful piano. He showed us his music and then we sat like pre-adolescent bookends in their finest borrowed clothing on the bench next to him and sang. The show was over with a rousing rendition of “Puff the Magic Dragon”.  I was 11 that night.  And I will never forget.


Linking up with Kathi @ Lol*ly*gag for Story Line.  This could be fun!!!

  • fionacharisbrown

    ohhhhh wonderful – I could close my eyes and picture this whole thing in my mind’s eye. Just wonderful!

  • I actually still have that picture my dad took. I just can’t find it! I’ll find it in two weeks when it doesn’t matter! Glad you enjoyed the memory with me!

  • Hmmm, now you have me thinking of my 11th birthday. It’s funny how you remember some and completely forget others. What a fun birthday treat for you girls. And even moreso that you can still remember it all these years later. Err, I mean these 10 years later. 😉

  • I want to see the picture of your best ‘pleasant face’! You really must find it!

    Consider it your ticket to Portland 😀

  • @Alia… Yes, of course, only 10 years ago… It was such a wonderful time. Jennifer came from a pretty awful home and she’d never done anything like that before. It was sweet.

    @Kathi, still looking for my pleasant face… Especially this morning!

  • @Kathi… Found. Ticket in the bag. 🙂 Yeehaw!