My dad, as previously mentioned, just celebrated his 65th birthday. It was a grand soirée for all seven people that were in attendance. There was wine and ice cream cake from Dairy Queen. Wait, let me clarify. The ice cream cake was from Dairy Queen, not the red wine. Either way, it was a real classy event. Any event is of the utmost class when there’s wine and DQ ice cream cake involved. Not to mention, six of the seven guests were over 65.
Except for me.
As I sat there, listening to my father’s friends’ stories from years and years ago, I found myself wondering what stories I would be able to tell my 65+ year old friends 35 years from now. Would it be the story in college where my friend Kelley and I had a party in her apartment and drank beer way too fast and played rainbow road on Mario Kart and both threw up from motion/beer sickness?
Perhaps it would be the time I traveled from Forest City to my hometown for summer break and was caught near the Minnesota/Iowa border in an 11 tornado twister fest. If you were wondering, I had to take shelter at a very kind farmlady’s house. She and her grandson offered me cookies and water while we huddled in her indoor salon. She didn’t have a basement. Good choice on my part, but to be fair, it was the only choice at the time.
Will it be my fond memories of freshman year of college, where I found the voice in myself to stand up to my friends who I felt were bullying me at the time? Turns out, we just weren’t used to living together. And to this day, though one of us is in Chicago, one of us is in Minnesota, and one of us is still in Iowa, we still think of each other often. Visits are few and far between, but the friendship will never go away. They’ll probably be some of the 65+ year old friends I share these stories with.
What if it’s the times where my buddy Brooke and I got so stoned we could barely function. Wobbling all over my apartment, searching for munchies and getting a little too enthused about watching Titanic. Never have I ever seen Brooke more intrigued and involved in something she’s seen at least 20 times (a year). There was also another time that she tried to make me watch a movie called “Now you See Me” and I fell asleep.
I’m sure there will be some point that I will share stories about my time at Sally’s Restaurant in Forest City, IA. I worked for a woman who truly had a heart of gold, but had the attitude of a raging bull. She would get easily overwhelmed when things got busy, and I wasn’t the fastest waitress she had. I goofed up a lot, but the girl cared enough to talk to me about pursuing my dreams as a writer. She understood my job was temporary, but the memories definitely aren’t. They still haunt me. She always wanted me to take out more plates than I could carry. She learned quickly that my arms do not function well as tray tables.
Those are only some of the stories that have popped into my head just writing this blog, but who knows what stories I will want to share on my 65th birthday. I can only hope my birthday will be much like that of my dad’s – full of laughter, memories, and happiness surrounded by my friends that are still close to me.
My dad told us of his days working at the Garbage Pit in Ann Arbor, Michigan with his best friend Tim Seaver (owner of Tios in Ann Arbor. Yeah, they were featured on Man Vs. Food…kind of a big deal, and probably the most amazing Mexican food ever of ever.) And there was a gal that worked there named Marge. She had no teeth, was a squatty old gal, but was always decorating the Garbage Pit and catering to the needs of their customers. The story goes that one day, there was a big Michigan State football game, and there were a bunch of sailors in town. Marge had dressed up in her own little sailor’s outfit, had made navy bean soup for the lunch special, and decked out the Garbage Pit in an array of red, white, and blue decorations.
Marge patiently waited for the sailor boys to stop in as she watched them all march past the Garbage Pit and on to the dome where the game was. Dad says she held her head up high, but it was obvious she was disappointed that no sailors had gone in to taste her navy bean soup. So, my dad and my Uncle Tim (Tim Seaver isn’t related to me by blood, but he married my dad’s cousin who is also my mom’s best friend, so Tim and Harriet are as good as Aunt and Uncle to me) went to the dome as the football game was letting out and bribed five to 10 sailors to come into the Garbage Pit to cheer up lil’ old Marge. And they successfully had those sailors come in and eat Marge’s navy bean soup. Dad says that once they tried to pay them for stopping in, all of the sailors refused the original bribe because Marge made them smile and laugh so much, and her soup was pretty good too I hear, that they felt they were the ones that got treated.
These are the stories I want to have collected when I’m 65. (Insert The Beatles “When I’m 64” tune, but add one year.) I want to witness unending acts of kindness and compassion as I grow older. I want to refuse to grow up and be my lovable, goofy, cheerful self all the way to the end.
Dad said at his party last night, “It’s not the body that you should worry about aging, but your heart and mind. Once you lose your inner child, there’s no going back. I don’t think I plan on ever growing up.”
I had no idea my dad was Peter Pan.