When couples share close birthdays

Published 11:07 pm Thursday, September 24, 2015

By Pam Stone

When you and your significant other have birthdays that fall within one week of each other, they sort of cancel each other out. Like voting Republican and your partner voting Democrat. Or sucking down a Venti Frappuccino while on the treadmill. After 25 years together, I don’t need any more knick-knacks and Paul doesn’t need any more stuff from the Apple Store. Excuse me, this just in: Paul says he will always need more stuff from the Apple Store, so never mind. And he says he also likes the fact that the pressure is only on me to remember his birthday as his falls first and therefore, he knows mine is coming up, stat.


But one does get to the point of feeling, “Look, here’s the C note I was going to spend on you. Now give it back to me. Good. Happy Birthday.” Because it makes more sense to just go Dutch and have a really amazing dinner out and expect nothing else. Paul doesn’t have to feel pressured to do something special for me seven days later if I plan some incredible blow-out for him, and I won’t feel like a whiney five-year- old, if on my big day, all I get is a hastily purchased card from the Dollar Store and a grocery store cake with four inches of icing that makes my teeth bleed for a month.


Yep, we’re at the age where we don’t really need anything. Which is kind of a relief. Ah, yes, it’s very nice when you’re young and just starting out and there’s all sorts of lovely pieces of furniture you’d like for your house, or pieces of artwork and pottery. Perhaps a Keurig on your countertop and a widescreen TV to put over your fireplace so that when you come home from staring at screens all day, you can stare at the very biggest screen all evening.


And when we were barely in our thirties, because we lived round the corner from Sweet Lady Jane’s (a bakery well known for creating wedding cakes for the rich and famous), for awhile, we would engage in ‘dueling birthdays’ and try to outdo each other by ordering the most originally decorated cake, baked by Jane, herself.


Paul’s passion being roses, I requested Jane to design a cake that was completely covered, top and sides, in buds and blossoms that were representative of his favorites: old garden roses. The next week, Paul gave me a cake that looked as if it was covered in a blue horse show ribbon – the top of the cake being the fat rosette with a gold horse button inside (all edible) with its three ‘streamers’ flowing down the sides. And on the third week, our blood sugar began to return to normal.


But now, who wants all that sticky sweetness to consume within a week? I know, I do, too, but at some point you’ve got to embrace your pancreas and put your foot down. So we share one cake – a small one – or we simply have a dessert together during our birthday dinner out, which we don’t even attempt to share unless someone wants the prongs of a fork impaled through their wrist. If we were stinking rich, I guess we could buy each other a new German car each birthday, or a jet, or rent an island somewhere, but that’s for hedge fund managers, not us, and besides, Paul can’t haul mulch in a Mercedes and I’d be worried sick about my critters, while sitting on a beach somewhere in the South Pacific.


I used to feel sorry for grandparents who seemed to genuinely appreciate the uninspired gift of socks and slippers on their birthday. Why not just stick a Mr. Magoo night cap on their head to add insult to injury, I thought. But now I get it! Some of those boiled wool, German imported toasty slippers simply rock on uncarpeted hardwood floors in the winter! And thick socks to put on under my muck boots during frigid February mornings are a reason to join a chorus of angels!


So while I’m not quite ready for a bunion shaver or a ‘Life Alert’ pendant, I now concede I am ready and happy to receive what could be termed as ‘useful gifts.’


Unless it’s a pony.


I’ll always take a pony.