The first half of yesterday was lousy. I was late for work, had all these assignments heaping up on my desk and a basking sun I couldn’t go out and play in. I was miserable. I was further and utterly annoyed when I realized that I had to work over-time, so I’d have to schedule my shopping for later (note to self: shopping today).
Then I stuffed myself a chicken, cooked some rice and considered the day a day.
Until I got this text-message on my cell: Hi, can you come over later and keep me company because [ ] is going away at 9pm? I’ve had a bad tax settlement and need to pay 3K back to the authorities, money I don’t have. Oh, well, I thought and answered that I’d probably come over nineish, ’cause that’s what friends are for.. or so I’ve heard. In the meanwhile I digested the chicken, got a phonecall from my grandmother in the north whom I haven’t spoken to for at least a year or so, and my father who congratulated me and instructed me that his hometown had been elected the worst town in Norway in terms of garbage in the streets. Don’t ask.
When it comes to birthdays, I’m not your man. In either case I’m not your man, but that’s beside the point. The point is that I dislike my own birthdays – not birthdays in general – just my own particular birthday. It’s all because you’re at work (for instance) and it’s actually Wednesday and when you’re concentrating on finishing some fishy business someone just snaps out of the conversation and says "Happy Birthday!"
That’s like me just cutting in in the middle of a telephone meeting saying: "Good luck with that divorce, Fred!"
I can’t stand it, whomever Fred turns out to be.
So I don’t tell anyone that it’s my birthday. At work they find out, since they’ve got my curriculum vitae, but my friends don’t and most of them doesn’t even know I run this website so they wouldn’t get it from there. At least that’s what I like to think.
At around half past eight, I picked up my couple of Guinness Draughts from the fridge, rolled myself a sig and went down to see my sorry friend. I was rather pleased with myself, I must admit, being the good samaritan for once. Even though the rain poured down on me and both my Draughts were getting warm I can recall whistling most of the way. A sorry friend answered in the doorbell: "mmYeah?" It’s me! I said. I always say that for some reason, except the times I kick myself in the head and go It’s George, despite the fact that doorbells have an important function as to filter out unwanted people who’re also – magically – me’s. The door opened nevertheless.
Troddin’ up the stairs I thought about something to say. She’d sounded very depressed. 3,000 crowners had to be paid back to the state, all the while I gettin’ richer from my consulent position at Fafo.. I had to say something without smiling too boldly. Hey, I said, and what’s up?
I took the beer out of my pockets, hung up my jacket and kicked off my shoes.
By the look of it, she was in no mood to get drunk, so I needed a beer and went to the kitchen to get a glass.
Guinnes Draught deserves a glass.
I got back, took a deep breath remembering that I was the samaritan and all, and went into her room. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! was yelled at me from several familiar faces. This is the sort of moment when your brain suddenly is struck out of chord and looks for something familiar in the expected events. It woolgathers for a hyper-second, then just decides that a complete re-set is probably the best solution, or that staying OFF is an even better solution, and you just stand there with your mouth opens. Scientists have argued fiercely over the open mouth in situations like this, some proclaiming that it’s the primal expression for surprise, while others claim it’s simply to make the body remember that it should not forget how to breathe.
I sat down without looking at them, with a foolish smile on my face. It was my screensaver kicking in.
I opened the beer, poured it into the glass and half-emptied it. I seem to recall my friends laughing heartily, but I’m not sure whether this actually happened or if it was just my own nervous laughter forcing my body to breathe.
..so from then on the day was pretty good. Even watched an episode of Lost where, as usual, nothing happened.
Took about half an hour, though, to get my psyche up to speed and forecast the previous knowledge of an expected evening comforting a sorry friend as total bullshit. I think I had to ask my friends several times what they were doing there, where they were really supposed to be and why they weren’t there, since I’d been totally punked. As Douglas Adams wrote: "Funny old thing, life is." I sure have good friends.