Friday, June 15, 2012

A Lifetime Supply of Jean Nate'

Intrigued? I bet you are!

Remember Jean Nate', the body splash? The one that came in a giant bottle with the huge, black cap the size of a bowling ball and sat in the cabinet under your grandmother's bathroom sink next to her Polident and dusting powder? Remember opening it every time you visited so you could take deep, masochistic breaths of it because its scent both puzzled and disturbed you? No? Just me?

Ok, how about this: remember housecoats? Remember your grandmother trying to give you her old ones? And when you wrinkled your nose at them and said you wouldn't wear them she'd explain, "...just for knockin' around in,"? Just me again?

How about the smell of mothballs? Or plastic purses--excuse me, pocketbooks--encrusted with seashells or beads? Freedent gum? Wintergreen mints? LAWRENCE WELK? Anything?

Are you following me here? Perhaps yours wasn't (crazy) like mine, but all these things remind me of my grandmother. And my grandmothers, for most of my life, was by far the oldest person I knew. And I never really seriously considered that I would actually become like that.

And then last Tuesday arrived.

And I turned 40.

Yes, it's true. I am now on my way to becoming an old woman. I'm not sure how well I'm handling this. The sheer number of people who have been asking me how I'm handling it makes me wonder if I need to worry about handling it. They've gotten to me. And now I'm paranoid. Well done, friends!

Anyway, besides the geriatric paranoia, turning forty has been rather delightful!

The Viking threw the most perfect little party for me last week.  He knows I hate a big fuss and he knows I hate surprises so he told me something would be happening on Saturday night but he wouldn't tell me what.  And then he confined me to the living room, cleaned the house and did a mess of shopping and next thing I knew, one of my favorite friends showed up at the house and there were bowls of snacks on the dining room table!  Ooooooh!

And then another favorite friend showed up!  Squee!

And then Lobelia showed up!  Surprise!  And another squee!

And then another favorite friend!  And by now I was squealing a lot and very jittery.

And then Mom arrived.  Poor Mom, she was the only one I didn't squeal over because she was the only one I was actually expecting to see that night.  But let it be known that I was no less delighted that she was there.

And walked DARIA.  Daria, who has been living 12 hours away with Dharma and Vance since Christmas!  Mom flew her in as a surprise for my birthday!

I believe I shrieked in shock when that happened.  And I hugged her for a long time.  I was so happy to see her!  I had a wild moment of hope that perhaps, just perhaps, Dharma had been able to travel up as well, but it was, understandably, not to be.  I really do think I would have peed my pants and burst into tears if she had walked through the door.

While everyone was still shrieking over Daria's surprise appearance (no one knew, not even The Viking), one more favorite friend walked in!  And our joy was nearly complete.

Then The Viking announced he was making fondue and would be tending bar for the evening and began taking drink orders.  We placed orders for Mojitos and Mudslides and decided to call him, "Wench."  And then the games began.  Literally.

We played games well into the wee hours of the morning, cackling and hooting all the while.  The Viking kept the drinks coming and we laughed until we were literally massaging our faces because they hurt so bad. One friend had to change her shirt.  There was a wedgie incident.  Mom chased Daria around the kitchen with her shoe.  It was, as the kids say, EPIC.

I was humbled and nearly overwhelmed by the willingness of so many of my favorite people to join me in celebration.  There are about a dozen women whom I consider my favorite friends in the world.  And all but four were there that night (they were invited but could not attend).  And I realized I am blessed not only with quite the treasure trove of fantastic friends, three of whom are my sisters, but also with a husband who knows me quite possibly better than I know myself.  I could not have planned a better party myself.  My only regret (other than the absence of the four friends to round out the collection) is that we were too busy having fun to take photos.

But wait, there's more.  Also in waves.  And I DID get a few photos of it:

First thing, on my actual birthday, I was no allowed to lift a finger!  No cleaning, no laundry, no cooking!  I did give a piano lesson (life does go on, after all), but that was about it.

Redheaded Snippet made dinner for us all.  And she did the shopping for it, with Daria's help.  The Viking pitched in when he got home from work, but the vast majority of the work was done by Redheaded Snippet herself.  I was strictly forbidden to come into the kitchen and by the time they led me into the dining room with my eyes closed, I was fairly jumping out of my skin!

And this is what I beheld when I opened my eyes:

Voila!  Ooh la la!  I had, months ago, made a rather casual, half-kidding comment to The Viking about possibly asking for a piece of Le Creuset for my 40th.  And, lo! he was listening!  And Redheaded Snippet got to use it to make our dinner!

We had eaten half of it before I remembered to take a photo.  The Viking and Redheaded Snippet decided to indulge my Anglophilia and looked up British dishes on Le Creuset's website.  This one is called Beef With a Kick and is best described as a rich, flavorful, fancy beef stew.  It had three kinds of mushrooms in it, two of which Redheaded Snippet had never heard of before and which required a phone consultation with Lobelia beforehand.  It was deadly good.

They went shopping for me at my favorite British Import store and got this stripey jack cheese...

These cute strawberry salt and pepper shakers that I always pick up and admire whenever I'm in the store...

And an assortment of little treats for my enjoyment...

Served proudly by my waiter, "Henri".  He used a (darn good) French accent and everything!

A lovely, dainty tea-for-one set...

Do not be alarmed.  It's a sticky toffee pudding, my favorite dessert in the world!  Redheaded Snippet was amused by the process of steaming it in a can...

Candy that Dharma and Vance discovered while in Italy and The Viking and I encountered again while in England.  There are only two places we know of around here that carry them so they are somewhat of a rare treat...

And, of course, unusually flavored crisps.  I wasn't brave enough to try the chili ones, but Calvin liked them.  The roast chicken ones were verrrrrry strange!  Not for the faint at heart!

After all of that, I was quite spent, as you can imagine.  But the celebrations weren't over yet.  The Viking and I celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary a few days later, there were several graduation parties and a handful of end-of-the-year cookouts and pool parties which we had to prioritize and attend selectively.  Plus, Daria was here for twelve days which meant that every moment we weren't running off to everything else we were squeezing in as much time as possible with her!  Throw in the SAT, term papers, finals and an upcoming Summer Kick-Off field hockey tournament and you've got one whirlwind of a fortnight!  And there really isn't an end in sight until...hmmm, let's see...January?  We may have a few slow weeks coming up, but once July hits and field hockey practices begin in earnest, it's a runaway train ride until after Christmas.

But let's not dwell on that right now.  I'm going to make myself a cup of tea and bask in the sunlight on the porch for a wee bit longer.

After I splash on some Jean Nate', of course!

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