Greatest Hits Of 1976

31st Birthday

At first, it seemed that having the Fourth of July on a Wednesday was an excellent idea. There we were, lying on a beach in the sunshine on a Wednesday, a day when we should rightfully have been chained to our cubicles, casting longing glances at the sliver of sky visible from between two filing cabinets. To be drinking (cheap) champagne on a blanket on the sand at two o'clock in the afternoon on a Wednesday---a Wednesday!---was a miracle indeed.

And then came Thursday morning. And I realized that having the Fourth of July on a Wednesday was just plain cruel, because Thursday felt like Monday, and that meant two Mondays in one week, and two Mondays in one week is possibly the most awful thing in the world, second only to being forced to watch televised golf while eating bowlful after bowlful of cooked celery. And simultaneously snuggling with George W. Bush.

The actual Fourth of July itself, however, was a charmer of a day. For a start, it was Sean's birthday, and I made a cake that would announce to the world that even though he thought he was old, old, old, he was still a whopping 200 years younger than America itself:


I'd been stockpiling presents for months---hey, once you've given someone a role in a Korean documentary for their birthday, you're going to have to work overtime to try and top that---although I'm fairly sure his favorite thing was his card. This card was a work of brilliance, and when I saw this card in the shop, I started laughing so hard that the saleswoman came over to me and said "are you okay?" And when I looked up WITH TEARS IN MY EYES, TEARS OF LAUGHTER, she said "whoa, you must really like that card." And I said "it's!" and she said "uh, yeah," and walked away. And yes, I had just been to a very intense workout class and was thus just a tiny bit high on life and endorphins and the like, but Internet, this card was really, really funny. I hope I haven't talked this card up too much, because this card was just so great. It had a very small drawing of a piece of pie on the front and all it said under the pie was this: "Today's your birthday, and we should do special birthday things, like eat pie and swear."

Eat pie and swear! Isn't that exactly what you want to do on your birthday? I would do them at the same time, I think, to get the maximum effect of the specialness, shouting, for example, "bloody hell, this boysenberry pie is good!" And surely the awesomeness of eating pie and swearing would be threefold---or maybe four or fivefold---if you were swearing at your pie. You could be all, "screw you, pumpkin pie, you piece of crap! Damn you to hell, you are dead to me! Apple pie is where it's at!"

So after we'd finished eating pie and swearing---actually, we ate bacon, but that is just even better, I think---we decided to go to the beach. We drove across the Golden Gate Bridge into the Marin Headlands and hiked down to this little hidden cove with our picnic, which consisted of a spinach and pancetta quiche I'd made (which is sort of like a pie!), a Whole Foods potato salad---which, this being San Francisco and all, turned out to be a) vegan, and b) very good regardless---kettle chips, fresh pineapple, two-bite vanilla cupcakes, and mimosas, sipped from plastic souvenir San Franciso Giants mugs (because we are klassy.) It was wonderfully warm and there was only one other person on the little stretch of sand, and the waves were crashing on the rocks and spraying foam everywhere, and we were all "dude, we live in California, can you believe it?"

Here is a picture of Sean lying on the sand. You have my express permission to make a joke along the lines of "is that a lens cap in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?" Trust me, I have made it already.


Sean is actually wearing two of his eight birthday presents in this picture: one of them is that pink and white checked shirt, and the other is the best ring in the world, a ring that OPENS BEER BOTTLES. Am I the best girlfriend ever or what? I bought this ring for the times when we visit our favorite Thai restaurant---you may remember it as the one where I got mugged by a crack whore---and have to buy a six-pack of Tsing Tao beer across the street, since the Thai restaurant doesn't serve alcohol, and then inevitably have to buy a bottle opener as well, since the men who operate the shop across from the Thai restaurant KNOW you will not have a bottle opener on you, and thus place them at the very front of the store, cackling as they watch the flicker of realization cross your face, the moment when you understand that YOU ARE THEIR BITCH. This is why we own, like, five tiny $3 bottle openers that we have only used once. No longer, however! Now we have The Ring!

In case you are wondering what else I got Sean---and perhaps you are, I don't know, but I'm always curious about what people give other people as presents---here it is: I got him a very specific black sweater that we have both been searching for since we saw Clive Owen wearing one in Closer three years ago---ah, look, here he is wearing it! Clive, I mean, not Sean, though Sean looks better in his---as well as a very similar (and accidental) version of that black sweater, which I thought was going to be black, but turned out to actually be GREEN. (When I ordered it, before I bought the black one I ended up giving him, I made the grievous miskake of thinking "black spruce heather" meant black. Apparently I did not read the "spruce" part or the "heather" part of the description, both of which suggest "green" not "black." So then when it arrived and it was green, I had a small freakout. And then I had to go and find a black one instead, but I still gave him the green one as well in case he liked it. Which he did. So now he is really committed to this style of sweater, as you can imagine. Perhaps he will even become known throughout San Francisco as The Man Who Has Two Very Similar Sweaters.) I also gave him a Giants baseball cap for wearing to baseball games and pledging allegiance to San Francisco, this book, and possibly the nerdiest present ever: a color-changing egg timer for when we make soft-boiled eggs. Please, there is nothing as rock n'roll as that. Mick Jagger has nothing on me.

(Speaking of Mick Jagger, I did try to up the cool quotient of Sean's presents just a little by giving him a series of guitar lessons with a real live proper teacher---a teacher with a ponytail! You can't get better than that!---which he began on Saturday. He is already very good. He will be selling out arenas with his three-chord version of "happy birthday" by the end of the summer, believe you me. Wilco, look out!)

So later in the day, there were fireworks from a rooftop, and America's birthday was celebrated alongside Sean's. And it occured to me, as we stood there watching the bangs and pops and whizzes, that the last time we'd been up on that rooftop watching fireworks had been six months ago on New Year's Eve, when we'd only been in San Francisco two days. We didn't have an apartment then, we didn't have jobs, and all our worldly belongings were divided between a storage facility on the other side of the Bay Bridge and Jemima's living room floor. We'd gripped each other's hands as the countdown began, everything new and exciting, everything new and terrifying. And if only we could have known, I thought, as I stood on that same rooftop last Wednesday night, that there was no need for those nerves we felt. If only we could have known that everything would work out in the end.


Jul 09, 2007

yay! happy post-birthday wishes to sean. how lovely to have fireworks each year to celebrate! but i must know one thing. the ring. is it fabulous? is it the must-have man gift of the year?

Jul 09, 2007

Lovely gifts! I got Scott the guitar lesson thing for part of this years' anniversary present as well. Big hit. Apparently he shares a birthday with 50 Cent as well. Cake looks deeelicious!

Jul 09, 2007

Wow, looks like an absolutely fab cake! And it sounds like you both had the most heavenly time on the beach... And what a great gift-chooser-giver you are! I have a heck of a time every year trying to come up with the perfect gift, and most recently I've resorted to picking out the perfect restaurant I've heard so much about to give him a wonderful dinner as a gift. But I think I may have to move on next year...

I miss the fireworks, I have to admit. I may see some for the 14th here, Bastille Day, but being away from the U.S. on the 4th is kinda tough.

Jul 09, 2007

Aw, everyone born in July, 1976 is AWESOME. Trust me, I know!

It sounds like you got such nice presents and had a great day. I hope my birthday is as nice as Sean's was!


Jul 09, 2007

I have bought that exact same card! I had a similar moment in the store...the laughing part at least. :)

jive turkey
Jul 09, 2007

Wish I'd known about the bottle-opening ring before I got married. Can you imagine the awesomeness of a wedding band/bottle opener? Someone needs to design a line of these immediately. "Darling, every time I crack a bottle to drown out my pain, I'm reminded of our special day."

Jul 09, 2007

I must have the egg timer! Must!

Jul 09, 2007

ohmygoodness, I must eat that cake!

Jul 09, 2007

Happy belated Birthday to Sean, and great job on the gifts! The Egg Perfect is one of my favorite kitchen gadgets - I can't make soft-boiled eggs without it (and life without the occasional Sunday morning breakfast of soft-boiled eggs and soldiers is not worth living).

Wacky Mommy
Jul 09, 2007

Dudes, I just completely live vicariously through you. It seems like you hardly ever run fevers or vomit, like everyone at my house. Although you do sometimes set things on fire, so we have that in common.

I'll get out again someday.


Happy (belated) Birthday to Sean.

Jul 09, 2007

Happy belated birthday to you Cute Sean! I love love love the ring and agree with Jive Turkey that I wish my husband's wedding band could have been that ring. It would have made me a hero amongst his friends.

Eight presents, a day a the beach, mimosas, fireworks and a kiss-ass cake - what an amazing day!

Jul 09, 2007

"If only you had known"... it wouldn't have been nearly as exciting. :)

Jul 09, 2007

So, where did you find that sweater? Because I've been looking for one for my Clive Owen lookalike, too. Oh my, that's a good looking sweater.

Nothing But Bonfires
Jul 09, 2007

I found it (finally) in Zara (the part for men, obviously!) I checked every other shop in the world, though, so good luck with that. Saks has some very fancy ones (Hugo Boss and the like) but you may have to promise them your first born child in exchange.

And to answer an earlier question, the beer bottle opener ring is FABULOUS. It totally works, and Sean has been a hit at parties already.

Jul 09, 2007

I'm a huge fan of the Banksy book- I just bought a coffee table one and absolutely love it.
Happy birthday to Sean!

Jul 09, 2007

Happy Birthday Sean! And um, AMerica!

I want that egg timer.

Jul 09, 2007

Happy belated birthday, Sean!! The 4th is my wedding anniversary, too, so it's an extra special day. My husband will be getting the bottle opening ring for some holiday soon, because it is awesome. Though I won't let him read this post about it, because then he'll want to know why he doesn't get all these things for his birthday. I think this year I gave him a card and that was it, because money was tight.

Jul 09, 2007

I once saw a card with a little Dutch boy on the cover coyly wearing clogs. If I remember correctly, the caption read "What do the Dutch say on your birthday?" (I've never been good with quotes). Once you opened up the inside it read "Wooden shoe like some cake?" (ok, that part I remember just fine). I must have laughed for *hours*. So punny!

Wow, that is a kick-arse ring! You might want to get some insurance coverage in case it gets stolen by drunken frat boys. Hehehehe.

Jul 09, 2007

Where did you buy the ring from? I might have missed that in the post. But that's fabulous!

And yes, 2 mondays is the worse thing to do to a human.

Jul 11, 2007

Honestly, every time I read one of your posts I think it's beautifully written. Happy birthday Sean. 1976 was a good year. I was here for a month of it.

Jul 11, 2007

wow that cake looks delish. you can write AND cook. the perfect woman! :)

Jul 12, 2007

Awesome ideas!! Just wanted to drop you a note to tell you how much I enjoy your weblog...your crackwhore story had me LAUGHING OUT LOUD!!! Your website is never boring!