My birthday is in a couple days. I had the big 40 last year, but I also had a 12 month old, and I pretty much didn't care. I didn't really do anything or want anything, except some days off from work and a nap.
This year is a little different. Not that I want stuff, necessarily (well, OK, maybe I do: a massage, guilt-free practice time, a flatter tummy… not necessarily in that order, thank you) or because I feel bad about my age but because I'm thinking about the past in a different way.
For some reason I keep thinking about turning 21.
I was engaged to the Guy I Did Not Marry. He took me to McGinty's, an Irish pub in Santa Monica. Don't look for it, it closed years ago. Drinking with him was always fun because he had a bit of the Bad Boy in him, or he thought he did. Maybe I liked this more than I should have. He really was a sweet guy. Anyway, we went to McGinty's. I didn't drink much or well in those days, so a couple beers was enough. We sat on our barstools and talked and probably made out (we were very good at public displays of affection, and he was a very good kisser) and went home. It wasn't an exciting birthday celebration, but I'm a simple girl, and I do like one on one time with the man I love. I sure don't get enough of that now! Anyway, a while later (a week? a month? I have no idea) we went back there with a group of his friends. This time I didn't drink, so he could get wasted, and I could drive us home. His car was a stick shift, and these occasions were excellent practice for me. I was a terrible stick driver at first and I can't tell you how many times I stalled out making a left turn onto Wilshire or whatever. Sober, he loved his car so he was a nervous teacher: except when he was drunk, when he rode in the backseat and heckled people on the street.
For some reason, during our time at McGinty's, I ended up sitting on his friend's lap. I am a little shy, was raised kind of sheltered, and definitely was not a flirt, so how this happened, I could not say. This particular friend of his, too, was not one of the guys I have known since elementary school, and he was one of those types of people who tends to intimidate me (i.e., smart, sarcastic people). And he had a girlfriend. I mean, sitting on this guy's lap meant nothing. I'm sure he's forgotten it ever happened (probably forgot it happened that same day). Except the radio was playing Van Morrison's "Brown Eyed Girl" (what kind of Irish pub would it be if they weren't?), I happen to BE a brown eyed girl… I don't know. It was kind of a rare moment for me, where I felt attractive in a way I rarely ever do. How can I explain it? Sometimes I have thought that I look great, only to catch a glimpse in a mirror and find that reality is not so good. I weigh less than I have since I was 21 (and boy, I'm sure I was self-conscious about my weight then but I would kill to be that size again), but 85% of my weight is belly. My hair is growing out but literally OUT. It's got all these crazy waves and a mind of its own. Anyway, sitting on that guy's lap, being hugged by him, feeling like The Brown Eyed Girl, and looked at jealously by the Guy: I felt pretty good about myself.
I don't mention this because I'm delusional and think that other guy had feelings for me or anything. At the very most he was trying to bug the Guy, because that's what these guys did. Later, when we were leaving, he kept trying to get the Guy to give him a piggy back ride. He was about a foot taller than the Guy, so surely that wasn't a lot of fun. Anyway, no, I sure didn't have feelings for him. It was just fun, in a way I hadn't really experienced up to that point very much.
So yeah, I know it's dumb to need other people to validate feeling pretty, but that was one of those nights I never forget.
I'm older, more tired, busier, somebody's mama, possess the ability to drink a Guinness (or two) once in awhile… but once I sat on some smart, handsome, tall guy's lap. It means nothing, except that it happened.