Saturday, 10 November 2012

The Halloween Grinch (aka A Very Monkey Birthday)

Being born on Halloween has its good and bad points.
The good – well it’s kind of badass to hang with the undead (legend has it Halloween babies have extra perception and the protection of the spirit world) and I can use it to explain away my teenager-like obsession with all things skull-print.
The downside is that every year, when you ask folk to come to your birthday party, they will all already be prebooked with something Halloweeny.
Rather like those who are born on Christmas, and perpetually hold a grudge against Jesus for watering down their gift potential, I have developed a Grinch-like bitterness when it comes to pumpkins, fake blood and witch costumes. Skeletons I can live with on account of the aforementioned skull-print fetish.
And whilst my silent “but it’s my birthday first of all” sulk can go relatively undercover in the UK, over in the US, Halloween is big business.
Walmart, for example, was already sporting a Halloween theme way back when we arrived in the States, at the end of September.
Every aisle boasted cobwebs, and leering cats, along with the well-known haunted outhouse.
Every aisle that is bar this one, where it was already Christmas.
Sensing (perhaps because I never stopped banging on about it) that encountering Halloween revelry on my “special day” would be a hiding to stroppiness, Andy steered me away from my original plan to go to the crabshack in Pacific Beach (an area packed to the gills with drunk students) and towards a nice, grownup restaurant for dinner.
But before that, there was the day itself to attend to, kicking off (and for this, I applaud Andy’s patience) at 6.30am with cards and presents.
I might be 39 now, but I retain the impatience of a five year old attacking Santa’s stocking.
Andy (Big Monkey, long story but stems from how we started dating) had bankrupted himself on the card front (for some reason stationery seems exorbitant over here), with four separate offerings – including one on behalf of absent friends and family, and one mocking my (Little Monkey) time-wasting ability when it comes to getting in the shower, along with a couple of smoochy numbers.
All other cards and presents (even those I was instrumental in buying) had been painstakingly guarded till the day itself, and gloriously wrapped in paper and ribbons for a full-on rip-open experience.
Having witnessed the abomination that was Andy's Christmas wrapping last December, I know how much effort this must have entailed, and once again expressed my gratitude with some “happy crying”.
After breakfast in bed (good old poached eggs again) it was time to head off to the nail salon (me, not Andy).
For some reason, I imagine the life of an American lady entails endless sessions of buffing and gelling, and given I was having a day off from grabbing hopelessly at big boys coattails and collars in BJJ, it was the ideal opportunity to hand myself over to the varnish maestros.
One manicure, pedicure and spicy sandwich later (Andy liked his so much he decided to sport it across his chops), I bedecked myself in as many birthday gifts as it’s possible to wear simultaneously, and we headed off to downtown San Diego.
The Gaslamp shopping gods were smiling on me, and Vans offered up two new pairs of sunglasses (the last ones lasted roughly two days before I sat on them).
Heading home to swank up before dinner, we made a last minute detour to the beach, to watch the sun go down and take way too many pensive “arty” shots. There are a lot of them in this blog, but trust me, it's a drop in the photo ocean when it comes to our collection. We are well on our way to becoming the proverbial "let me bore you with our holiday snaps" couple.
We ended the day by blowing the food budget (put it this way, there’ll be a lot more poached eggs this month) at Table 926.
It was a chance to ponder our first month (and a bit) of travels, and where we will head in the New Year.
As well as stuff ourselves to the point where we felt rather sick.

I’m not one for public outpourings of emotion (crying excepted) but it was quite possibly the best birthday ever. For everyone who posted, gifted and greeted, and of course the exceptional efforts of the Big Monkey, I want to say thanks, it left me feeling something like this…

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