It’s my birthday tomorrow and what I’m doing for it is a surprise. Yep, I’ve been told to just wear something that makes me feel good.
‘So I can wear my new fluoro pink tracksuit then?’ I asked.
‘Sure.’ My boyfriend replied.
‘Yes, but understand, you’ll be more embarrassed than me.’
Well played, well played sir.
The first surprise birthday I ever had was when my sister was born, the day before my 8th birthday. As such my party and life as I knew it was cancelled – SURPRISE!
This naturally brings me to the second surprise ever thrown for me. In an effort to make up for their below par parenting towards me proceeding my sister’s arrival, my mother took me for a birthday breakfast at Denny’s (yep, in the 80s the Nepean Highway was littered with American icons…Sizzler, The Keg..did I mention we had a f**king Sizzler!). As we walked into the completely empty shrine to the pancake and hope, a 16 year-old girl called ‘Becky’ greeted us at the door. Aside from a real name the only other thing Becky lacked was an adequate education in hospitality. From the moment I met her, Becky’s lack of professionalism appalled me.
“Hi, welcome to…’ she glanced at the menu for clarification ‘…Denny’s?’
Brilliant. Happy 9th Birthday to me.
My mother only made things worse.
‘We have a booking under Sanz, but not a birthday booking just to be clear *wink wink*, just a regular breakfast booking. Yep, I’m just a mum taking her kids out for a pancake breakfast for no particular reason.’ *wink wink.
We waited while Becky took some reading and basic comprehension classes and finally she found our name on the otherwise blank reservations page.
‘Yes, for 14?’ Mum glared at her – you’re letting the team down her eyes seemed to say. Becky’s eyes on the other hand seemed to say ‘don’t be surprised to find me on the side of a milk carton one day.’
‘Um, well look if you don’t have a smaller table, we’ll happily take the table for 14 – after all we are only here for an impromptu breakfast, but not a birthday party, absolutely not a birthday party.’ *wink wink.
My mother continued on with her charade even as we stood only metres away from a table of 14 made up for a birthday party, complete with birthday banner that read ‘Happy Surprise Birthday Louise’.
But for Becky, well the tipping point had finally come.
‘So you want to have a breakfast on a table for 3 and then go to the birthday party?’
My mother’s eye’s narrowed.
‘Look given there’s a table made up for 14 already, we’ll just sit there. No problems.’ She snatched the menus from Becky and led my brother and I over to the table. Looking back at Becky coming to terms with life, I wanted to say something like ‘kill yourself now’ you know, in an act of sisterly solidarity but it was my birthday and so it was important I focus on myself, at least for one day. It was the right thing to do.
‘Well look at this’…you had to admire the woman ‘…a party for another Louise on your birthday and we’ve been sat her table! I mean what a coincidence!’.
I looked over at my brother, my only ally in this farce, but ravaged by hunger he had taken to sating his appetite with snot. I suddenly felt very alone.
Of course the only thing that could make this surprise birthday party more surprisy would be if, say we were seated right next to the car-park, you know, just so I could see my friends arriving armed with gifts and listen to my mother proclaim over and over again ‘oh the coincidence, oh the coincidence’ – made more coincidental by the fact most came clutching the invitation my mother had sent them – oh the coincidence.
I’d like to say the surprises in my life got better, but you know me by now, we’re all friends…let’s push on.
My 16th Birthday party.
‘Come meet us at the Pancake Parlour Lou’…giggle giggle.
I hung up my landline telephone chuffed. I had friends, they were awesome, they’d organised a surprise party at the Pancake Parlour and sure it was another fast food family fine dining experience, but I’d grown, we’d grown – my friends liked me and now was their chance to prove it. Life was awesome. Their life was awesome cause they were friends with me.
Finally pancakes would redeem themselves. I was glad I was about to give them the opportunity to do so.
But then the bill came, after the pancakes and my friends firmly cemented themselves as dicks. Not one of them had bought enough money to pay the bill, let alone my serving of ‘All You Can Eat Maple Pancakes’.
‘Yeah I guess in 1954 pancakes were a lot cheaper. Inflations a bitch.’ I found myself saying in attempt to emphasise with my friend Gavin, who stood before me clutching 20c and a hard-on.
‘Well if you hadn’t had the extra side of butter Lou.’
‘Totally’ I said ‘you’re right, far call. If I’d known you were working to a budget…’
I couldn’t blame it entirely on them – I had low self-esteem , I’d been the one to settle for them. Slow clap Sanz, slow clap…
Thank god the money I’d gotten for my birthday to buy a bra that did up at the front was enough to cover the shortfall. Oh the coincidence.