14. Missing my mojito

Saturday April 18 2020

Today is my birthday and I don’t feel a day over 58. The years don’t bother me, really, because I’ve had friends who haven’t made it this far. Every day is a gift. I know this to be true.

Still, as the years are bookmarked by this annual event, the day itself becomes less important to celebrate. I don’t feel a need for a cake with an inferno of candles to blow out or a party to open gifts. My go-to has been dinner out at a favorite restaurant – or one I’ve always wanted to try out – with a mojito on their outdoor patio.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

This modest wish is not to be had this year, which is the same for everyone having a birthday during this weird shut-down period. No mojito on a patio, but we can pick up a nice carryout dinner. And for the first time since March 14th, I have not prepared a meal today.

For more than a month, I’ve prepared two meals every day without a break. No “I’m exhausted” or “too busy” or “I’m craving Chinese tonight.” I’ve packed lunches every day during the week, cooked lunches on the weekend, and made a full dinner every flippin’ evening. This has got to be the longest cooking streak I’ve ever had, even considering our poverty period when we first got married.

So, I’m living large on my 58th birthday with a carryout lunch from Smashburger and dinner from Buckhorn Tavern, where we also picked up a chilled bottle of Fume Blanc to go with our strip steaks.

A minor burp in the plans as I was really jonesing for the creole special from Mila’s Suburban Cafe, but they ran out by the time I called. I was then ready to settle for prime rib from Buckhorn, but they were out of that tender bit of beefy nom. So, New York strip steak is good, too, when prepared as a still-mooing medium rare.

And the weird thing is, as we tucked into our strip steaks, baked potatoes, and grilled squash, I was thinking I could have cooked all this and it would have been a bit fresher on the plate. I’m sick of cooking every day, but get a day off and all of a sudden I’m a restaurant critic.

Even though my only gift request is that no one get me a gift, I want to be gracious in the efforts. To help, I sometimes buy my own stuff. I finally got an instant pot for the kitchen, but since it breaks the rule of “if it plugs in, it’s not a gift,” we really can’t count it. So, I ordered a case of some white wines from Navarro Vineyards, which I discovered on our trip to California last year. Happy Birthday to me.

Other exponential purchases we’ve had to make that don’t count as gifts include my smart phone that the puppy broke, my laptop with its fried motherboard, car repairs needed for the fleet, and my eyeglasses that, yep, the puppy chewed.

We’re all overdue for haircuts now. I’ve been cutting my own with the scissors I use to trim Micron’s ear hair. And boy howdy, would I love a pedicure to sport some lovely spring color on my otherwise gnarly toenails. No word yet on when salons will be able to reopen, but when that does occur, we’ll have to fight the masses to get an appointment.

I’ve resolved myself to the probability of a DIY pedicure, which fills me with a certain dread. My waistline left town years ago and it’s hard to breathe when bending over for more than a few seconds, so I’ll have to pace myself. Thinking that I should choose a color that’s rather understated since I’m sure to make a mess of things, I bought a light pink polish last week. Tested it on a thumbnail to discover it’s actually the exact Pantone shade of Pepto-Bismal, wish I were lying. I went a few days with this single painted thumbnail, ready to answer the question of why I’m sporting only one bright pink digit. Tried to think of something clever, like it’s a code to identify essential workers and why didn’t they know that, but in the end, if anyone even noticed, they didn’t ask.

So this week, it’s coral. My left thumbnail. I like the color and so now I await sandal weather before I tart up the toenails.

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