We are all getting old. Some of us more than others, but still. We’re getting old. And forgetful. And sometimes we all get forgetful at the same time in ways that actually help each other out in our own forgetfulness. And sometimes it’s good for a laugh or two. Which is good.
I had a birthday recently. It was something more than 40 but less than 50. Closer to 40, at least for a little bit longer. I don’t publicize my birthday on Facebook, don’t tell a bunch of people, don’t remind folks, and… our administrative assistant quit posting them on the bulletin board at the end of last year. So I wasn’t expecting much. Life met expectations.
My husband and daughter wished me a happy birthday in the morning, but not my sons. My best friend from now and my best friend from days past each sent me a message in the morning before I got to work. My mom tried to call me around the actual time of my birth but got busy and called about 15 minutes late. I wasn’t at my desk so we didn’t talk until she called back later that evening. My eldest son then wished me a happy birthday when we met up at the restaurant complaining that “no one told me! I didn’t know!”
And that was that. And I was fine.
As we turned off the light and prepared for bed that night, my husband asked me if I had talked to either of my parents that day. I told him about my well-wishers and then said, “But it was strange. Penny didn’t say anything to me at work. She always wishes everyone a happy birthday. She’s got them all marked on her calendar on the wall.”
“Oh, shoot!” I said suddenly. “Grant’s birthday is coming up and I don’t have any more birthday cards in my desk! I’ve got to remember to get cards tomorrow.”
At which point I gave a mental thank you to Penny for forgetting my birthday and thus reminding me not to forget Grant’s.
The next morning, Penny slid into my office and I knew what was coming. “I forgot your birthday yesterday!” she said. “I’m really sorry. With this new job, I just don’t seem to look over at my calendar as much.”
“That’s ok,” I said, and then told her about my conversation the night before. “So, see. You helped me out. Thank you!”
But as you might guess, I forgot to buy a card for Grant that evening. I woke up the next morning, the day before Grant’s birthday and the last day of the work week. I was making small talk with my husband and told him about how Penny had given me belated birthday wishes the day before.
“Oh, shoot!” I exclaimed. “I forgot to buy Grant a card! Crap! I’ll have to stop at the store on my way to work, but man, I like to slip them in their office when they aren’t there. That’s going to be hard to do now.”
“You better hurry then,” he said, “so you can get in before Grant does.”
“Oh, it’s too late for that!” I said, laughing. “He’s already there.” Grant was always at work by 7, the time on the clock at that moment.
Nevertheless, I hustled along, actually remembered to stop at the store, and made it to work in just over an hour.
“You are lucky I’m here,” said Grant when I stopped to check on a project we were working on together. Expecting a tale of near-death, I listened with a certain amount of apprehension, but as the story went on, I became confused.
He and his wife had attended a wedding the night before. Which was strange, being a Thursday. The wedding had been at mealtime and the reception had been light on food. Was he telling me he nearly starved to death?
Not knowing the bride or groom at all, being present merely to support the groom’s parents, they slipped out soon after the reception ended and went out to eat. Ok, so maybe a near wreck somewhere along the way?
No, no wreck. They made it home safely. Spent a quiet remainder of the evening. So what had caused him to almost not make it to work?
The story continued to the morning. He woke up. He went into the kitchen. He started taking care of some bills or something. Like he always does. He heard his wife wake up so he put on the coffee for her. She soon came into the room.
“What are you still doing here?” she asked.
He was confused. “What do you mean?” he asked.
“But she wasn’t giving it up,” he told me, starting to chuckle. “She was going to make me work for it.”
Eventually, she said, “You think it’s Saturday, don’t you?”
He was sitting in his pajamas, contemplating whether to fix sausage and eggs, when he would normally have already been at work.
“It’s funny you should say that,” I said. And then I proceeded to tell him first about Penny forgetting my birthday and thus reminding me not to forget his. And then me forgetting to buy a card anyway and remembering as I told my husband about Penny remembering the next day. And then my husband telling me to hurry and me telling him that Grant was already at work. “Except you weren’t, were you?”
“No!” he said laughing. “I was still in my pajamas.”
We laughed some more and he told me I didn’t have to give him a card and I told him I would anyway. And later on, after he found the card on his desk – me having successfully placed it undetected while he was sitting there, he came in to my office to thank me and say again that it wasn’t necessary, and that now he understood why I had had a bit of glitter on my lip earlier. The card having had several colors of glittered balloons and gifts on the front.
There are a number of very young people in our work area now and they sometimes make me feel very old, older than I actually am. But moments like this help me keep it in perspective. There’s a lot of “old” going around. And we manage to have a good time with it.