I was disturbed to find that both iFish, a message board I signed up for because someone lied that one could get coupons for sporting goods on it, and another message board I’m involved with automatically emailed me to wish me a happy birthday. I spent the rest of the morning trying to ease back into work and take it easy so I don’t recharge the illness that is busy trying to kill me, and waited for the moment.
My phone rang, and I saw the name – Mickey, Grandma (my phone assumes you want to see everyone in last, first format, because it assumes you are a total dick), and I knew that the time of my real birthday present was at hand.
“Aaron?” (the thick accent has always made saying my name difficult, there’s an extra soft consonant in there somewhere, like an L between the two A’s. Also, she always presents the “who is this” name-challenge even if you clearly identify yourself early in the call, because she is crazy.)
“Yeah, it’s me, how are you doing?”
“You feel better?”
“Yeah, I’m feeling a lot better, how are you?”
“I just called to say Happy Birthday.” (She is fairly easily distracted in conversation, so she ignores any questions put to her until her objective is complete, and usually afterwards for good measure.)
“Thank you grandma. How are things going down there?”
Then my gift begins. A broken rhythm rendition of the Happy Birthday Song that puts me into fits of laughter each time, I have to stifle it or she’ll stop. Happy comes out “hoppy”, Birthday comes out “burse-a-day”, the rhythm is so masterfully distorted it would make Coltrane weep his inadequacy.
She then lays down the law about something, I believe it had to do with the fact that I am sick because I live in Oregon and that’s what Oregon does, then calls herself “strong like horse”, which only serves to put the icing on my birthday cake. From this point on, she responds as much as she ever does to questions, and we have a short but pleasant conversation about how cold it must be here and how I must wish I were warmer. I would like to talk to her more, but I am at work, and while I’m comfortable with that, she is not (she was baffled that my boss would just let me take two sick days off and not have to make up the time), so we cut it short and I head back to my desk humming a not-quite-right Birthday Song.
But that song is the best gift I get all year.