Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Where Are The Birthdays Of Yesteryear?

Tomorrow is my birthday, historically the most important day of my year, and like François Villon recalling the great beauties of history with " où sont les neiges d'antan?" I find myself thinking about my own birthdays past, and what I can learn from them.

Thus far, I've celebrated the anniversary of my birth in many cities, including Santiago, Chile; San Francisco and Los Angeles, California; London, England; Paris, France; and Venice, Italy, in a suite at the Gritti Palace bedecked with white roses and overlooking the Grand Canal, being serenaded by a guitarist singing "La Vie en Rose."

On December 4th last year, I woke up to the sound of the Caribbean lapping at the pale sand outside my window, and threw myself a wonderful party upon my return to New York.

I was stood up by a cad on my 21st birthday, and resolved then that I would never leave my own birthday to chance. Which brings me to the story of my first birthday after I'd separated from my second husband. I threw myself a party at Hollywood's now-closed Star Shoes (cold martinis and hot vintage shoes, what could be bad?), and invited everyone I knew, and took pictures of their shoes.

It was fabulously fun. As the night wound down, I found myself with two suitors. One was well-traveled, handsome and suave in his blue blazer, with a plethora of great stories - and a handful of streets named after his family in his hometown.

The other was young, wearing a shabby corduroy coat and an impish smile. He worked as a short-order cook at a place where I often had lunch, and he'd caught my eye, so I'd invited him. He sidled up to me and whispered, "Lose this guy in the blazer and take me home. You won't be sorry."

I did, and he was right. Exactly the right birthday present for that year. Though I of course often wonder about the road not taken.

This year will be very different. But as Paul Simon once sang:
Yesterday it was my birthday
I hung one more year on the line
I should be depressed
My life's a mess
But I'm having a good time...
(The Piazza San Marco in Venice.)

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