Monday, May 25, 2009

Erin's Birthday Party

Last week my lovely case manager Erin celebrated her 25th birthday. Now I am very fond of Erin as can be seen by reading my post, Erin's Star. I don't give out stars to just anybody, you know! No, you have to be very special to receive a huge, fusioning ball of hydrogen from me.
Now I wanted to make her birthday as special for her as I could, and accordingly have spent the last two years planning a celebration for her on her birthday.
Come to think of it, that's fairly strange as I first met Erin just last November. Oh well, we don't have time to go into that right now... on to her party.
The first thing to do was to ascertain if she was actually going to be here on her birthday. It fell on one of her work days, that was true, but that did not guarantee that she would not take the day off to selfishly celebrate by herself and her friends. How could I find out this vital information without arousing her suspicions? She is extremely smart and a formidable opponent in any endeavor. I would have to be very tricky.
First I asked case manager Paul to find out Erin's plans for that day, he being her coworker and all, it would not seem unusual for him to ask. But Paul proved useless in such matters, in fact he ignored my Email plea completely. What would I do?
I came up with an idea. It took a lot of nerve, but I plunged ahead.
"Dear Erin (I always begin all of my Emails to Erin with Dear, and have told her that if she receives one without that particular salutation, that would mean that I had been captured and she should immediately alert the authorities. Unless, of course, it was the authorities that had captured me in the first place), are you going to be here on your birthday?" I asked her in an innocent looking Email, with a birthday haiku attached. It went almost exactly like this:

The Lady Erin
Celebrates her birthday soon,
Quarter century

She replied: Thank you Rick! That was lovely! Yes, I will be here for my birthday! Unless somebody steals me away and takes me to a birthday spa-treatment surprise or something! (but I'm pretty sure that won't happen, so.. I’ll be here!)

She is nothing if not refreshingly honest.
Through painstaking investigative efforts (I asked her) I discovered her schedule for the day in question. I had only a small window of opportunity as she had a meeting with her bosses in the morning, and was scheduled to work over at the dreaded Olympia Hotel in the afternoon.
I laid my plans.
Paul did turn out to be useful for something. He is an exceptionally talented musician and plays in a band that performs throughout the Southland. Keyboards and guitar. He plays the piano for us just before our yoga class to lull us into a false sense of security.
I asked him to learn two songs to play for Erin. Now I at one time was also in a band, sort of. A long time ago, but I don't know how to play any musical instruments. I can't even play the tambourine very well, as shall be evidenced. I can sing my fool head off though, and hoped Paul would accompany me in John Lennon's tribute to Bob Dylan, "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away," one of my favorites of The Beatles, and "Rock and Roll," from Led Zeppelin. I later asked Paul to forget the Zeppelin song as we didn't have a drummer, and that song just isn't the same without drums.
Next, what birthday party would be complete without a birthday cake? I spent thirteen hours the night before her birthday slaving away in my kitchen, finally producing an exquisite chocolate sheet cake, with a hidden layer of chocolate goo (that's what it says on the package, "Chocolate Goo"), painstakingly frosted with red flowers, green trim, and the words, "Happy Birthday Erin," etched in red right on top. I stowed this in my refrigerator so it wouldn't melt.
The day and hour approached. I waited patiently in the lobby outside of Erin's office for her return from her meeting. Two hours. Then I heard the front door slam, and there she was, her cell phone/Blackberry/Epod, or whatever it is she's constantly talking through, glued to her ear, as she blithely entered her office.
"Happy birthday!" I called out to her.
She turned around and smiled. "Thank you. I'll be right out." She disappeared inside her office.
Paul entered with guitar case in hand. "I'll be right back," I told him.
I hurriedly went to my box and got the cake and the bag of birthday goodies, then returned to their office. She was still in there. If I had waited for her to come out as she had just indicated, I'd still be waiting! I looked through the shaded window inside. Erin was still yacking on her communication device. Yack, yack, yack. I waited for her to finish, cake in hand, before I entered. She just wouldn't stop!
What in God's name do these girls have to yack so much about, dear readers? Yack, yack, yack. If she's not doing that, she's texting. Text, text, text. Paul too.
This is a typical phone conversation between me and my best friend Ron:
"Hey Ron..."
"What's up Richard?"
"Loan me twenty bucks."
"I'll meet you at the Hippie Kitchen."
"See ya."
You see the elegant economy don't you, dear readers? We have longer conversations, but only when we can see each other.
Anyway, Erin refused to stop talking, but I saw her get up from her desk and head for the door. I hurriedly lit the one candle on her cake (the thought of lighting 26 of the little bastards had stressed me out) and just stood there like a smiling jack ass.
She opened the door and stopped as she saw me holding her cake.
"Happy birthday," I said.
"I'll call you back," she told whoever it was she had been speaking to. "Thank you, Rick."
We entered the office. Paul and I sang the Happy Birthday Song to her, and she blew out her candle.
"I made it myself," I told her.
"Sure you... why thank you, Rick. It's beautiful. It means so much to me that you made it yourself."
"I made the candle too!"
I opened the bag of birthday goodies and took out the birthday hats and passed them around. I presented Erin with the traditional fake birthday bonsai tree, with "Happy Birthday Erin," scrawled across the base. I gave her some birthday Skittles, and birthday turkey stuffing. I brought out paper plates and plastic spoons for the cake, as well as a great big knife for her to cut it with. And I gave her her birthday present, a neat little box, wrapped up in Happy Birthday Paper.
She unwrapped it to find it filled with white tissue. Upon further investigation, she discovered a smooth, oval shaped, black rock.
"What's this?" she asked.
"Read the card," I instructed.
She did, and she found out that the rock had come from the Bonsai section at the Huntington Gardens. The card said something like: "Please keep this rock so you will always remember. Happy Birthday from all of us!" The "all of us" representing her many other clients.
At the bottom of her gift box she found a plastic case holding seven DVDs.
"Cosmos?" she asked. "What's this."
"It's the nicest thing I could have gotten for you. It was a mini-series about science, and the cosmos. Just watch the first episode..."
"Oh, I know I'll like it."
"At the time it came out it was the most popular science series ever on PBS."
Now it was time for our song. Paul and I had not rehearsed the song, but he had learned the music. We played it one time while Erin was out of the room, and when she returned we played it for her, while she recorded it on Paul's digital camera. Erin refused to wear her birthday hat, but Paul and I did. Apparently my crappy tambourine playing screwed up the sound, but you can observe the results, dear reader, as Paul later published it on his blog at:
or on You Tube at:
That done, it was time to present Erin with her star. I forced her to read Erin's Star directly from this blog, then presented her with a hard copy of the Official Title Certificate and Order of Transfer, and the Erin's Star post itself.
For my efforts, although I did not ask for it (alright, I did ask for one latter on), I received a very nice hug.
We had cake, then the clowns arrived, right on schedule. Eight of them. They began various clown activities, blowing up balloons, pantomime, acrobatics. Speaking of balloons, I flipped the switch, and two hundred balloons and streamers fell from the ceiling (odd that Erin hadn't noticed them) and landed about us. Erin cried out in delight! The circus animals came next. One of the elephants made a mess on Paul's desk, but they were otherwise well behaved. The dancing girls arrived. I began singing "Livin' la Vida Loca," with a lamp shade on my head. Men swallowed swords and breathed fire. The bears and tigers scared Paul a bit, as he cowered to one side. The trapeze took up an entire corner. A man was shot out of a giant cannon. The fireworks began. Erin took a ride on one of the many horses. It was definitely getting crowded, and a little smokey in there.
Other nearby residents heard what was going on and joined us. A Conga line started. The cake was consumed. Punch was procured. Erin was lifted on her chair by the clowns 25 times in honer of her new age.
While I was distracted with an angry mongoose, the clowns made off with Erin. She hasn't been heard from since.
F- - king clowns! They're always doing stuff like that.

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