My Perfect Birthdaybyfannyanny©
Perfect birthdays in most people's books are those which go smoothly with no disasters, but not for me.
Before my black cat ate me alive I got up and opened the curtains before going to feed her. Looking outside I discovered it rain streaming down. I don't think I can remember a birthday when it hasn't rained. I fed the cat before picking up the mail from the floor, two cards and three bills. The phone rang then. Checking my watch for lateness I realised it was Saturday and wondered why I had let the cat get me up. I had a day to look forward to however as I was going shopping with my friend, Ness. With the evening I was dining out with friends and Joshua, my man.
On the phone was my mother, sounding as merry as ever, "Happy Birthday Caroline. What are you doing to celebrate? Have you received our card?"
"It's in my hand at this very moment."
I held the phone with my shoulder and opened the card. It was written in my mother's typical large handwriting of capital letters:
OODLES OF LOVE
MUMMY & DADDY
"Thanks mum." I decided to ignore the fact that it said 'Happy 30th Birthday'.
"What are you doing today?"
"I'm going shopping with Ness and then going out this evening to a restaurant with a couple of friends and Joshua."
"I have a present for you when you next come down. I'd rather not send it through the post since it might get lost."
I knew what she was talking about there. The year before she had sent me some things from Liberty but they'd never arrived and she'd felt cheated ever since.
"Thanks mum..." The door bell rang, "... I've got to go, Ness has arrived and I'm not dressed yet."
"Thanks." I smiled down the phone. It was always good to get a call from my mum.
While shopping with Ness I found a lovely white top, just right to go with my black flowery skirt, something that would hopefully bewitch Joshua so much that he wouldn't get too drunk so we could fall into bed together for a perfect ending. The top had these gorgeous bishop sleeves that were fringed with lace and beads on the front. It was extravagant, but I couldn't resist it when I saw it in the shop window. Ness thought me mad, "What if you decide to eat something with tomato in it? What about wine?"
"You know how careful I am about that sort of thing." I smiled, as I showed it off to her in the changing room corridor. I gave her a twirl and felt like a princess in it, "Joshua will love me in this and will sweep me off my feet."
"Admittedly you do look nice in it." She commented surrounded by our bags of goodies, "Come on, we need to make a move so we can get ready. Twenty-nine today Caz. Don't forget your biological clock is ticking. Soon you won't be able to have children."
"Oh don't be so morbid Ness. There is plenty of time left for me to have children and I'm marrying Josh first. Mum sent me a card for a thirty-year-old today; I think she was suggesting that she wants grandchildren. Where are we going?" I called through the changing room door.
"I'll pick you up and take you there, you know it's a surprise." Ness replied with a smile as I left the cramp changing room. Instantly I put my heel through the flimsy fabric of the long skirt I had tried on, just my luck. The top was expensive enough but I ended up paying for the damn skirt that didn't fit me. The shop assistant saw me rip it so I couldn't even innocently hang it back on the rack.
Ness picked me up at eight. I hurried down my hall in my heeled boots, trying to zip one up and tripped over the cat. I just kept my balance but caught my tights on my hall table creating a ladder. I swore and hoped my skirt hid the ladder and that it didn't expand. I squeezed into her Mini and wished she would buy something bigger for I always felt too large for it, like Jeremy Clarkson in anything that wasn't a bulldozer-sized car. She grinned, "Ready to party the night away?"
"I don't know about that. I would prefer to just get Josh in my bed. Recently it hasn't been happening."
"Football." Ness said with authority. Her last had been football crazy, so much so that he would stay only for her sport channels. She dumped him for that very reason.
She drew up outside a darkened restaurant with a notice on its door. We crossed to the group of people standing outside getting soaked. Joshua appeared out of the crowd, "They're shut, food poisoning I think. Everyone else thinks it's illegal immigrants."
"Brilliant. Where do we go now then?" Ness asked.
Looking up at the fancy writing of the restaurant I was glad it was shut since it would be saving my white top from deadly curry stains.
"Don't worry. Next door is having a quiet night. They are re-arranging the tables now."
"A quiet night?" Ness asked suspiciously, "Doesn't that mean they have bad food?"
"Ness, don't make this any worse then it already is. I don't know about anyone else but I'm hungry and if all they have is wilted salad then I'll eat it. I've been saving myself for this all day." I said pleadingly to her. I boldly stepped out to the next-door restaurant and entered.
The food wasn't as bad as Ness feared; in fact it was quite good and with wine and beer fuelling us we were soon enjoying ourselves. Admittedly the lettuce was slightly wilted and I feared I'd eaten too much garlic for Joshua to want to even talk to me but I didn't care. It was my birthday and as far as I could see it was going well. I discovered too late that it was unwise to have sat beside Hannah, a bit of a clumsy friend. Toasts were made and as she raised her glass her bracelet caught on my sleeve. Red wine spattered on to it. I stared in horror, as she exclaimed, "Oh God, Caz, I'm sorry. Let me mop that up for you."
"Stop Hannah, I'll do it."
Her napkin dabbing was just making it worse and I wondered how much it was going to cost to get it dry-cleaned. I had discovered the washing instructions too late to take it back to the shop. I looked desperately across at Joshua and felt I would never get him home.
Toasts paused for the time being as gifts were received and opened. I acquired a half empty box of chocolates, which meant Laura having a go at her man for having eaten them. He shrugged his shoulders as if to say 'it's-not-my-fault-you-left-them-on-the-table'. Ness gave me kinky underwear, embarrassing me in front of the men. The rest were safer; vouchers, a bunch of flowers and more chocolates. I thanked them all and then wished we could go as the waiter decided that he had to show off his tenor voice by singing 'Happy Birthday'. I hid my face to stop myself from laughing.
As he ended I heard a cough. I looked up to see Joshua on his feet and I looked hopefully at him. He moved round the table and my eyes never left him in his embarrassing Hawaii shirt and a hand was in a pocket. His smile became a frown as he searched his other pockets. He muttered as he came to me, "I don't believe this Caz. This was meant to be a wonderful night but it has turned into a disaster. I'll say what I have to say and hope it's enough." He got down on one knee and took my shaking hand. He gazed into my face and I saw love in his eyes. "We have been together for the last three years Caroline and you are the only one I want to be with. You make me smile and laugh and I love you for that. Will you marry me?"
"Where's the ring?" Ness demanded.
"The ring... yes... well..." He rubbed the back of his neck, "I did have it in my pocket but it must have fallen out in the car."
I smiled at him and then began to laugh. I laughed for the fact he had lost the ring and for the fact the evening had ended so well after such a bad day. Slowly everyone else joined in the laughter.
"Well? Will you marry me?" He looked hopeful.
"Even if you have lost the ring, yes," I beamed at him, "I would love to marry you."
He took my face in his hands and planted a tender kiss on my lips. I closed my eyes as I responded in kind. I heard everyone clapping but didn't care.
Everything came right in the end, a disaster maybe but also a perfect birthday. I'll certainly never forget it. The next birthday was actually a lot better for Joshua and I married; he said to make up for the lousy proposal. Secretly I think it's so he doesn't forget the wedding anniversary.