My friend Theresa turned turns 34 last next week. She came up with a theme for her birthday festivities, “Miracle on 34th Year – Create & experience something extraordinary every day for 13 days”.
Doesn’t that sound awesome and inspiring? I’d follow suit except that when it comes to my birthday it’s all about getting to do and see and eat whatever I want until I fall asleep in a fat- and sugar-induced coma.
As previously blogged, I took the day off from work. Okay, it was a vacation day that I lost, but I figured my birthday was worth it. I got up with the intent of heading down to Eleven City Diner for breakfast, then a movie, and finally afternoon tea with Nite at The Palm Court. But it was such a gorgeous day I ended up at the Lincoln Park Zoo, where I arrived just in time for breakfast with the seals:
The meerkats were quietly sitting or playing, like they had been waiting for me to arrive all along.
It was lovely. The day was sunny and bright, but still a little brisk. I hopped on the bus downtown to meet Cynthia and Antoinette for lunch at Poag Mahone’s. We stuffed our faces with sliders and wings. It was wonderful, made even more so by the Hello Kitty hair dryer Cynthia gave me on behalf of herself and her children. The hair dryer fit into my bag (fancy that), and I was off to spend a few hours at the Museum of Contemporary Art before I had to meet Nite for tea.
The museum was cool. As it was Tuesday, their weekly free day, it was full of visitors. I wandered through the galleries, pausing to take pictures or just, you know, look.
I had to shop just a little, so I left the museum and treated myself to some Chanel nail polish at the Macy’s in Water Tower Place. I walked up the street to The Drake Hotel, where I found I was a little early for my tea reservation at The Palm Court.
I wandered through an empty arcade of shops, found on the ground floor of the hotel. It was like being in a diorama myself. The Coq d’Or and the Cape Cod Room were closed while the hotel gift shop was open. I didn’t mind being alone but it wasn’t my thing for long.
I took the elevator up one level (yes, lazy) to the lobby, where I waited in the lobby. I was pecking away at my iPhone when Shaun Rajah, the special events manager of The Palm Court. I remembered him from my last time at tea. He introduced himself, and knew me from my blog. Oooh! It seemed that his GM had found my blog, and my recap of my Valentine’s Day visit with Kathy, and was pleased that Kathy and I had had such a wonderful time. It was cool to meet Shaun properly, and to know that my little blog was able to reflect so positively on him and on the Palm Court. He excused himself after giving me his card, which is about when Nite appeared.
A waiter showed us to a table near the fountain. As it was Tuesday at 3:30 in the afternoon, the Palm Court wasn’t crazy full so I probably didn’t need to make a reservation, but I like to play it safe. What if the place was inundated by a last-minute rush of conventioneers? I saw them networking near the ballrooms, taking calls on their phones in the lobby. I had my eye on them.
Nite had never been to the Drake for tea before, so it was a pleasure to explain how things went as best I could before the waiter came over and did a much better job of it. We ordered tea, marveled at the condiments that arrived (Devonshire cream, lemon curd, raspberry preserves, cream for the tea) and then the tray of sandwiches and pastries and, of course, the tea itself.
Being named Jasmine, of course I ordered the white jasmine tea. Beautiful and mild, so unlike me. Nite went for the Earl Grey, a robust choice. Shaun checked on us and offered us each a complimentary glass of Champagne. I nearly fainted with delight. Seriously, I love it when people give me stuff. Especially when that stuff is Champagne in a tall flute.
I wish I could say I was witty and urbane that afternoon but mainly I talked Nite’s ear off about whatever occurred to me. Boys. Why I went to the U of C. How I bombed my Columbia interview, which was conducted by a plastic surgeon in his office which was full of pictures of before-and-after photos of boob jobs. You know, the kind of classy conversation one normally finds in such an elegant setting. At least the Champagne did not give me Asian flush.
Nite was charming company, throughout tea and on the crowded bus ride back to our neighborhood. I spent some time at home replying to the many birthday greetings people were kind enough to leave for me via Facebook, then headed out to Molly’s Cupcakes to get my order.
Yes, I was bringing my own birthday cupcakes to work the next day. The girl at Molly’s thought that odd, but you do what you gotta do when there is no significant other to do that for you. When your mom and dad live in another city and you’re not 4 but 34. You buy your own cupcakes (or you make them yourself). You buy yourself presents. You throw your own party. You are grateful when people remember your birthday with greetings, presents, hugs, and you’re gracious when they forget.
(Because you can always use their guilt to get you a belated birthday dinner, or a really good present for yourself. Hurray!)
It’s never too early to prepare for turning 35. I’ll refer you all to Stephen Sondheim’s “Company”, the 2006 Broadway revival of which I believe I will use as inspiration for my next birthday. Read: cocktail wear, swizzle sticks, and lots of gossip.