So I ran away. Holidays are the time when I struggle most with being single. I’m not close to family so the occasions feel empty. And birthdays are loaded with awkwardness. Notice me! Not. I don’t need someone to pay for my coffee solely because it’s a certain day on the calendar. I don’t want to gather in the office for a slice of pineapple upside down cake. (Who decided to put pineapple in cake anyway? Or on pizza? Blech.) And I really don’t need to hear a roomful of coworkers perform “Happy Birthday” off-key. (Does it sound particularly lame because I am the guest of honor or do others abhor pineapple as a baking ingredient, too? Do I want to know the answer?)
I headed to Seattle. But running away from something doesn’t work so well when the thing you’re trying to flee follows along. Unfortunately, this was not time travel. I did not magically become twelve years younger. “Fifty” and “birthday” swirled around in my head. And “pathetic” joined them as I idled my car and chatted with the solemn U.S. border guard. (He’s the one that could really use the free coffee.)
“Where you headed?”
“Who do you know there?”
Sad. The man demanded my keys and searched my trunk. I read his mind: It’s sad people like this who stow body parts there. Still, I wouldn’t let his stoic demeanor and the delay crush me. I quietly hummed “EleanorRigby” and waited.
I cleared customs. He didn’t get to me. Neither did that HUGE number.
I’ve officially reached that point where I no longer count as a television viewer—18-49 is all that counts. Advertisers and network execs presume we ancient folks are entrenched in our buying habits. (Where can I purchase a jar of Tang, for Pete’s sake?) They also assume we keep the TV on as a napping aid.
And I became ancient in gay circles about fifteen years ago. That’s when guys switched from looking right through me to looking aghast to be cruised by an old troll. I stopped going to White Parties before they had to turn me away at the door. (Okay, I never went. Couldn’t ever carry off the plastic-bottle-and-tighty-whities look.) And I refuse to play along and join #TeamMiley or #TeamBritney. Heck, I was never even on #TeamKiley. (Apparently there is no such thing as a #TeamOliviaNewton-John. I checked,…even without the hashtag and with the proper spaces.)
Yeah, fifty. So what?
I celebrated with two 10-K runs in scenic areas of Seattle I’d never explored. And, of course, I topped that with a double scoop of ice cream in a waffle cone. Holding an ice cream cone is the closest thing to that elusive elixir. Makes me feel like a kid again, even if I chose decidedly adult flavors: Earl Grey and Stumptown Coffee. I had the urge to wear the ice cream the way four-year-olds do, but the tastes were too good to waste on chin and cheeks. A certain wisdom comes with all that experience.
So I made it through the big occasion. I suffered no meltdown. I didn’t have to hear that sad little birthday song even once. And I enjoyed my own pizza without the pineapple. I left Seattle happily listening to an oldies station—The Eagles! Bob Seger! Linda Ronstadt! (Oh, where art thou, Olivia?) The music made me smile. It served as confirmation that there must be a few us geezers still kicking,…with a trace of hearing intact even.
The day is done. Escaped. Survived. Coped. Let’s move on, shall we? National Nut Day looms large.