"Lunch? Noon. Love, Dad."
That's all the email read. Luckily, I knew lunch our usual lunch location: the family pub on the lake. This particular fall day, I arrived first. I got a table but rather than shivering at the sight of the white caps, I flagged down the waitress. I put in our drinks order, a root beer for me and an iced tea for Dad. I then confided in her and shared a secret.
"It's his birthday," I whispered, pointing to the seat where my father would sit at some point. She nodded and disappeared.
"You beat me here! First time in your life," Dad teased about my punctuality. I'm never later than a minute or two, but our restaurant is a few blocks from his office and fifteen minutes from our house. Combine that with the fact that I was a college student home on fall break who'd rather be in bed at noon and you tell me who's going to arrive first.
We enjoyed our meal and as we finished up, I heard the maracas in the kitchen. I bit my lip as to not spill my own beans. I didn't think I was successful, but I still enjoyed the look on Dad's face when they serenaded him and placed an ice cream dessert in front of him. I "got him" and got a good laugh.
As we were walking out we walked past his former secretary who happened to be having lunch with some friends. "Now wait a second. Your birthday's in June," she puzzled with a smile. It was October. A girl's got to do what a girl's got to do.
Dad is notorious for taking his "four girls" (my two sisters, my mom, and me) out for our birthdays, sneaking around the restaurant, and surprising us with a birthday serenade and free cake. We all hate it. We all love it. As we've gotten wiser, so has Dad. Since he's not allowed to leave the table during dinner, he's hired accomplices. We know what restaurants will participate in this tomfoolery, and we've been known to sing ourselves in those that don't. We've decided to bypass this mortifying tradition and enjoy a peaceful birthday dinner at home instead. My birthday's in early August, and I make sure we eat every meal at home from late July until mid August. You just never know when it's going to be your birthday TODAY!
Sure, we've turned it around on him a time or two. Like when we went out on Christina's birthday but told the waitress it was Dad's birthday instead. Or the time we made him wear the menu on his head while they serenaded Mom. But that's what's go great about the October celebration: it was just a taste of his own medicine and he had no idea it was coming. Not going to lie, I was pretty proud of myself and I did wish the rest of the family could have been there to see it. Oh, well. Maybe tonight we'll go out for lemon marang pie.
Happy birthday, Freddy Buttless. I love you more than the grains of sand all mushed together. Love, Sandi Beech.