In this past week’s Downton Abbey, as our dear Mr. Carson said, in the best quote of the episode, “The business of life is the acquisition of memories; in the end that’s all there is.” <sigh>
And to that end, I roast chestnuts over the memory fires about my 16th birthday. As it happens, I was not really deserving of the wonderful celebration and events around that year, which may even make them more special.
The weekend of my birthday, my parents took me out to dinner, and when I came home, some friends of had thrown me a surprise party! How cool is that?! Actually, my Cohiba was there, which is even better, looking at it now. Not many people can remember their fiancé was at their 16th birthday party!
The reason I didn’t really deserve the surprise party was that I had been a naughty girl and was serving a suspension from school at that point, the only time I was suspended. My second year was not a good one, (I had to take geometry – ugh), and I was trying to be cool. So I would skip class and go smoke off campus.
But I didn’t want the attendance office to know I was skipping, so I hid outside the classroom until the teacher put the attendance sheet outside the door, and then marked myself present. Not surprisingly, I was discovered at the end of the first semester, and suspended for the beginning of the second semester, for skipping and forgery.
As it happened, this caused a problem. Our full orchestra, for which I played percussion, had an concert at the end of that week. I was the only percussionist outside of the tympanist, and there was no way he could have played anything else. The director spoke with the head office, and they deferred my suspension to the second week. Yet that was a problem as well because at the end of that week there was a band concert, for which I played flute. The band director also protested that I was necessary for the performance, (though as one of over 10 flutes, that was rubbish) and on the last day of my suspension, the day of the concert, I was allowed to play.
Finally, after the band concert, several friends and fellow flutists gave me a memorable gift – a cantaloupe. “Why a cantaloupe?” one may ask. Several members of my section called me “Melon Butt,” as they teased me that my butt looked like a melon cut in half and plunked side-by-side. I realize this sounds mean, but it truly was funny (we never again have friends like when we were kids, do we?) and the perfect conclusion of probably the most memorable birthday I’ve ever had.