I had this fantasy about Saturday in which I was going to finish prep cooking for dinner, set the tables, carve a giant block of chocolate into a birthday tribute featuring Steve through the ages and then sit down with a glass of wine while I wrote something here before my guests arrived.
Didn't happen. Do you have any idea how long it takes to micro-dice enough vegetables to fill twenty baked tomatoes? Neither did I so I seriously underestimated. Actually I underestimated how long it would take to do everything and I was running behind all day.
Fortunately I had lots of help. Steve's birth mother chopped vegetables and set up bowls and platters for appetizers, her husband polished wine glasses, Steve's Dad washed all of my prep dishes, Steve... well Steve decided he needed to clean the glass shelves in a couple of kitchen cabinets. Three or four years ago this would have made me shrrriiiiiiiieeeeeeek with crazed irritation but this time I just giggled while I finished making the food. I suspect the presence of three extra adults who were doing useful things enabled me to be more indulgent about Steve's little, oh let's call it a quirk, of finding some obscure task to complete minutes before guests arrive (someone in the comments here once told a similar story about her husband painting doorknobs so that's what we call it now) or maybe I've mellowed. Or perhaps it was his birthday. In any event I looked over at Steve, unshowered and standing on a chair with a bottle of Windex at three-quarters to party o'clock, and I just laughed.
So for a while Steve was painting doorknobs but then he applied himself to the question of how to create unified seating for twenty within a nonlinear space using an odd assortment of tables that for some reason gradually decreased in height. It looked like hell, actually, and then my friend Noelle showed up with an armful of pretty tablecloths and my friend Lauren came and took over feeding the children and everyone bustled around with mismatched napkins and plates and we all drank some wine and voila. It sort of worked.
I know I shouldn't say it but the dinner itself was great. My decision to plank grill salmon almost went aft agley, though. We had never done it before and it was only as everyone was sitting down that we discovered two things: the grill could only fit two planks at a time (thus half the party started eating fifteen minutes after the other half - I don't think anyone cared since we had all started drinking at the same time) and although the package said the planks were reusable they incinerated. Literally.
Steve came in from the grill with the first round of salmon and whispered, "The planks caught fire and turned into ash" and I blinked in concern at the fish but it was fine. Delicious even - moist and yet, you know, smoky. Also Steve had asked for ratatouille so I found a recipe for a kinda deconstructed one served in baked tomatoes and went with that. I quadrupled the recipe for the filling but I had quintupled the number of tomatoes so... you do the math. In fact I wish you had done the math because I was pretty worried about the amount of rat to my touille but it wound up being fine, too. Yet again my lack of spatial reasoning skills had deceived me and the tomato cavities were not in fact larger than the tomato divots plus zucchini and eggplant and pepper and onion. Then there was my standard wild rice with lentils and bacon that can be made hours - if not days - in advance, and salad greens with balsamic and I made focaccia with garlic and herbs because I love to make focaccia.
Oh and I bought a grocery store cake and Patrick stuck a deer head magnet on it and we called it a day.
Speaking of Patrick he came and slipped an arm around me as I was standing to propose a toast. Part of my mind thought it was sweet and part of my mind was worried about the cup of... just then he managed to drop half a pint of chocolate milk down my leg. I finished the toast from the floor while I mopped up.
The birthday boy looking a bit like Monty Burns.
PS OH OH OH! I almost forgot! I had this idea that I would, oh god, use balloons to freeze water and make some ice luminarias.
Do they, er, remind you of anything?
Steve's collection of assorted parents gathered around for the big reveal - intrigued by my apparent craftiness as I pulled balloons out of the freezer - and I DIED. Died laughing, I mean, because I am twelve. And I made ice breasts. With a nipples.
Happy birthday, Steve, and as the gynecologist said to everybody, "This might feel a little cold."