Friday Five: Birthdays

This week’s Friday Five is about birthdays.
1. Hey, baby, what’s your sign? Do you think it fits you pretty well? Sagittarius. I have no idea what that’s supposed to say about me, and don’t care, since I consider astrology to be complete nonsense.
2. What’s the worst birthday gift you’ve ever received? If I’ve ever received a really awful one, I don’t remember it. But since my birthday is December 20, I usually can’t recall whether a gift was for my birthday or Christmas anyway.
3. What’s the best birthday gift you’ve ever received? See #4.
4. What’s the best way you’ve celebrated your birthday thus far? It snowed on my fifth birthday, and I spent the whole day playing in it. This was a big deal in Louisiana, where even very light snow was rare. I’m not sure I had ever seen snow before, and getting enough to build a snowman was awesome.
But my birthday in 1979 was even better. It was the last day of exams at the University of South Carolina, and the dorms were closing for the holidays that evening; everyone had to be out by 7:00 p.m. So after my last exam, I packed my bags and settled down with a book by my tenth-floor window (which looked out over the parking lot) to wait for my parents to make the 90-minute drive from Rock Hill to pick me up.
Afternoon turned into evening, and the parking lot began to look increasingly empty as the other residents left. At 6:00 I was anxious enough to call home, but no one was there. Presumably they were already on their way to Columbia, but when would they get there? I ate supper and continued waiting. It began to get dark. I started making a list of people I could call who might let me spend the night if my parents didn’t show up before the housing people threw me out into the street. Finally, with a few minutes to spare, my family’s van pulled into the parking lot and I went downstairs to meet them.
The van contained not only my parents and both my siblings, but also Virgil, whom my family had brought along to help celebrate. The interior of the van was decorated with balloons and streamers, and as soon as I got in, the party began. When we reached Rock Hill, Virgil told me to drop off my bags and get in his car, because we were driving to Charlotte to see Star Trek: The Motion Picture, which had premiered ten days earlier (but which I hadn’t had time to see, due to exams).
I would have been happy to celebrate my birthday merely by finishing exams, going home, and being with my family again. To be treated to a birthday party at 55 miles per hour all the way from Columbia to Rock Hill, and then go see the long-awaited Star Trek movie with my best friend, was too cool for words. I’m used to having my birthday be pretty much overshadowed by Christmas, but in 1979, it was the other way around.
5. What are your plans for this weekend? Tonight my family is making one-handed brownies (no one can use their dominant hand), which should be an interesting exercise if we can avoid making a mess of the kitchen in the process. Tomorrow is Diversions, the monthly get-together with friends to play card and board games. We don’t have anything planned for Sunday, so maybe I’ll finally be able to unpack our new computer and install Windows XP.

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