The Fiery One's birthday was not on Saturday, but that was the day we picked to celebrate it. It was a big one, or at least it seemed big to me, and I was very excited about it. I was so excited about it that I actually made plans and included other people in those plans. This is a big leap for me as someone who won't even answer the telephone. Send out invites to an event I'm responsible for? You must be kidding. That's communication, that's normal-social, that's the kind of thing that people who dust their top shelves rather than let the cat do it for them are into. Me, I prefer low-level social paranoia, a couple of pints of beer, and crossed fingers in hope that people will show up wherever I happen to be.

But not this time! I picked out a specific place and time! I even tried to make reservations, but the restaurant wouldn't let me! It was only three days before the event, but I sent out evites! And then, after so much triumph over myself, I remembered that stupid tradition called the birthday present. Goddammit.

I hate, hate, hate buying presents for people. I am horrible at it. I freeze up. I am that person who gives you a set of plastic clothes hangers for your birthday, a mug for Valentine's Day with a hairy ape picture on it that shows up when you fill it with hot liquids, and an odd-fitting shirt that picks up ever piece of lint in the house and then looks like a bath towel after one washing. I mean well, but I am gifting disabled. I actually just about bought the Fiery One a clothes drying rack on Saturday. A CLOTHES DRYING RACK.

This gift buying thing freaks me out so much that I put it completely out of my mind until Saturday morning. Saturday was the set day for his birthday brouhaha, and I still had nothing for him, so I set out in the early afternoon to search for The Perfect Gift. On the way to The Perfect Gift, which I was sure I would find, I passed this hotel, which came out very monolithic in the photograph. In actuality, the hotel looks kind of outdated, tacky, and like it was dipped in liquid salmon.

hotel rising

In case you were not aware, my gifting disability is only one of the symptoms of my greater shopping disability, as evidenced by the first place I chose to pop into to shop. At first glance, you might assume that this is a recycling depot, but no, it is not. It is a store, and everything in these haphazard piles is for sale.

the blue mantle

I apologize for the blurriness of that photograph, but I was very nervous and couldn't take the time to focus the camera. There was a bitchy nun working in the store who accused me of trespassing when she found me looking through a box of old Jesus pictures, and she followed me with her beady nun eyes for the next twenty minutes.

The box of Jesus pictures was stacked on top of a box of telephones and shoes between a mattress and clothing rack near the back of the store. I had just turned to walk down another aisle when the nun approached me.

Nun: You're not allowed back there!
Me: Oh, I didn't know that. Sorry.
Nun: Well, there's a sign right here in big letters. She pointed to a rumpled, handwritten sign partially obscured by second-hand scented candles and chenille sofa cushions.
Me: I'm sorry. I didn't see the sign. I started walking back toward the front of the store.
Nun: And you didn't see the gates here? I don't know any nuns personally, so maybe I stereotype them a bit, but her tone was becoming awfully sarcastic and accusing.
Me: I didn't see the gates, either. I didn't know those were gates. The so-called gates were actually a deep freeze compartment organizer and an upended wooden drying rack. There was no way to tell that they, unlock the piles of junk that filled the entire store, had been repurposed as "gates".
Nun: She kept scanning my face suspiciously. Well, they're obviously gates. You can't go back there.
Me: I KNOW I can't go back there. I can see that those are gates now. I turned to try to walk away again.
Nun: You can only shop on this side of that sign. She just could not let it go.
Me: I turned around to face her mean little pinhole eyes. I AM AWARE OF THAT, I said firmly, and perhaps a touch too loudly. I WILL BE SHOPPING OVER THERE. I pointed in the other direction and stomped off.

I don't care if she was a nun. That bitch was insinuating that I was trying to sneak into her coveted back area. Bloody hell, sister, I was looking at freaking Jesus pictures.

Oh, ha ha. Did I just type something about getting into a nun's coveted back area?

Because I did not learn my lesson in the Bitchy Nun Store, I attempted to shop in a pawn shop that was having a going-out-of-business sale. I need counselling for this shopping problem I have, because why would I think that a pawn shop that was going out of business would have anything birthday worthy in it? Because it didn't. There was a five-foot tall cigar-store-indian-esque naked lady carved out of a tree with huge dark nipples, but it cost an insane amount of money, it was too heavy to carry, and OH COME ON. Even I wouldn't buy that as a present.

Eventually, I decided to play it safe and bought the Fiery One a copy of The Joy of Cooking, and I threw in a new queen-size quilt for good measure, because who doesn't want a huge comforter when it's 32°C outside? I very quickly learned that I, for one, did not want that goddamned quilt, because I had to carry that thing ten blocks through the blazing sun to get it home. You can see that my poor, pink toes were baking alive on the sidewalk. Oh, what I won't do for love.


Later, I took the Fiery One out for a birthday supper at this stupidly expensive bistro that I knew I could not afford, but again, oh, what I won't do for love. It was worth it, though. As you can see in the following photograph, he loved his pork medallions so much that he cried when his plate was empty.

Aidan's birthday supper face

The following sign had nothing to do with his birthday, but it made me laugh during our walk home. You can just tell that the employees find the inspirational stuff incredibly inspirational. They could barely hold back their enthusiasm in telling us about it.

burns-hanley sign

And then, of course, I and several of our friends got him drunk on fine draft, which made him a happy man.

background Aidan

And I got to meet an old friend of his who made a super sexy photographic subject and was ever so patient with me and my drunken camera monkeying.


And now the Fiery One is very, very old. The End.

Places I've read recently: byrneunit, Mr. Sun!, and Secret Agent Josephine.