Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Birthday Party

Almost anyone with a heart knows that planning a birthday party - however informal or extravagant - is as much fun for the planner as it is for the celebrant. Given my restricted social calendar these days (I am becoming tired with age) and my preference for spontaneity in any event (one has to capitalize upon the propitious moments whenever possible), it is not surprising that I should have warmed rapidly to the idea of an impromptu get-together this afternoon with my long-standing friend, Jill, who is today celebrating her forty-ninth birthday.

I of course fulfilled the duty earlier this morning of firing off a cheery email to Jill to greet her upon arising and to wish her many happy returns of the day. I don’t care who or what age you are, greetings on the anniversary of your birth are always happily received! At the same time I advised Jill that I would be engaged in a Law Society lecture for the entire morning, but that I would try to connect with her later in the afternoon. Much to my delight, when I telephoned Jill shortly after 1:00 p.m. I was able to reach her. It would not have surprised me if she had vacated the premises on such an important day. This bit of serendipity only added fuel to the fire of my gathering birthday party inertia. Things were clearly on a roll! And when Jill, after thanking me for my good wishes, enquired whether she might invite herself to my chambers for a coffee this afternoon, I rejoined immediately that it was I who invited her to do the very same! Once again, the planets were properly aligned and we had the makings of a veritable festivity. I encouraged the sentiments of bonhomie by teasing Jill that she might even qualify for a candy sucker from Baker Bob’s confectionery next door to my office! Our arrangement was thus concluded with an estimated rallying time of four o’clock.

Immediately upon ringing off, preparations for the merrymaking began in earnest. After all, there remained but a matter of mere hours to get the party organized for our army of two. As I have said, it is but a few short yards required to leg it to Baker Bob’s emporium. This task was accomplished with haste and without hesitation. Fortunately it requires small effort for anyone of commitment to quality and tastefulness to find something tantalizing at Baker Bob’s especially for one as Jill who is renowned for her love of chocolate and sweets generally (she even likes those sugary girlie-drinks that come in gem-tone colours and are invariably crowned with a paper umbrella). Lightly as a butterfly I flitted about the copiously stacked cupboards of Baker Bob’s gathering in my arms a collection of preserves, chocolates, date square cookies, organic pasta sauces, dog cookies (not to forget Jill’s darling animal friends) and naturally a candy sucker, along with two decidedly sophisticated bottles of ginger ale which proclaimed their pedigree by announcing they were sweetened with no less than cane sugar.

Then it was back to the office to lay the festive table so to speak, which in this instance means removing my sweater coat, silk scarf and newspaper I had purchased for Denis (he pines for the Thursday edition of the rag for its food section) from the pressed back chair where Jill customarily perches whenever she has on numerous past occasions visited. I made use of the small refrigerator by depositing the two bottles of ginger ale therein. The remaining items I placed in the back room which is not heated (this particularly for the benefit of the date square cookies which I find improve with a slight chill). Then I retrieved a couple of straws from the pantry. This box of straws pointedly has a history which dates back to Jill’s darker days following her brain surgery which necessitated the use of a straw whenever drinking liquids, including hot tea or coffee. Her surgeon, in removing the tumour, had cut vital nerves which controlled the functioning of the lips, a condition which has now been restored by cosmetic surgery. Nonetheless, not being equipped with fine drinking vessels here at the office, and not imagining that a lady such as Jill would be inclined to drink from the rude bottle (however elegant it may otherwise feign to be), I thought it wouldn’t be inappropriate to add the decorative feature of a straw. This I imagined to be the pop equivalent of raising one’s pinkie while sipping tea from fine china cups. Whatever!

My general commotion in the direction of the rhapsodic foregathering was interrupted (the abrupt way only law can interrupt) by an allegation of professional oversight from a client whom I can vaguely recall. Upon retrieving the historic documents in question and refreshing my memory I was able to piece together the sequence of events and satisfy the caller that it was upon her own instructions that I had allegedly failed to complete a specific task. I was naturally somewhat derailed by this angular turn in my otherwise joyous proceedings; however, it is a mark of my developing maturity and wisdom that I put it down to just another one of those things, rather than bludgeoning myself with self-recriminations and other improper accusations. In any event, there was no real harm suffered by anyone, more a misunderstanding without material ramifications, though moments like these highlight the constant need in this business to document everything in the clearest of terms. As always when things go awry the first target is the lawyer.

Now like any host I sit impatiently awaiting the arrival of my guest. I have planned in my head the ceremony of serving the ginger ale and then, as though an after-thought, the bag of goodies. It’s going to be a real birthday party!

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