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Monday, January 20, 2003  

You Say It’s Your Birthday

A year ago today, Trash’s brother’s daughter was born. I call her Deniece. Her due date was actually my birthday, but she was a couple of days late. Apparently the majority of full-term babies come late, which makes me wonder why they don’t just push the usual due date back a little, but whatever. In any case, I got to spend part of my 33rd birthday (which was Saturday, and thanks for the e-mails) celebrating hers.

I’ve never been to a first-birthday party before, so I didn’t know what to expect. Not that that gave everyone else much of an advantage over me.

When it came time to cut the cake, Deniece was strapped into a chair in front of the cake like a condemned criminal. I have to give her credit for not freaking out while almost totally restrained in front of a couple dozen witnesses. I can’t say I would have been as sanguine about my future under the same circumstances. Especially if I had a dozen cameras pointed at me like she did. Deniece, on the contrary, seemed fairly comfortable with being the center of attention. With a little help from her mom, she got the candle blown out and prepared to have her first piece of birthday cake.

Her mom had to explain it to her a little bit, steering her hand toward the hunk of frosted cake on the table in front of her, scooping up a smear of frosting, and bringing it to her Deniece’s mouth.

Deniece is nothing if not a fast learner.

Although I give her high points for execution, I can’t in good conscience give her a high score on style. Getting her sugary fingers within an inch or two of her mouth seemed to be good enough for her. After half a minute, her mouth was totally encrusted. She looked like an alien with rabies.

That wasn’t quite doing it for her, though. She wanted to experience the cake more fully. Whereas you or I might accomplish that by putting more of it in our mouths, Deniece took a more novel approach, i.e., putting it on more of her face. And more of her head. And more of her.

In front of a dozen cameras recording the moment for posterity, Deniece gave herself a full frosting facial and shampoo. She rubbed her frosted fingers over the top of her head, covering her forehead with sticky stalagmites. Since she still had frosting on her hands, she tried to get the rest off by rubbing them on the back of her head where she still had some clean hair. That worked a little bit the first time, but the second and third attempts were less successful. That meant she had to resort to cleaning her hands on her cheeks, forehead, and eye sockets. All while grinning and laughing so she looked like a tiny, demented mime.

After a few more minutes of this, you could have stuck a baseball cap on her, cut a hole in the top of it, and used her to write your name on the driveway. Instead, her mom took her into the other room to rinse away the outer layer so she could start opening presents. There wasn’t time to do the whole treatment, so Deniece came out a few minutes later with a clean face (except for the bits of white in the crevices, like a member of Kiss the morning after a show) and hair that had been given a quick rub with a wet cloth. It stuck out in damp, random spikes. She looked like a dandelion that had been spritzed with spray glue.

That was the last we saw of her, grinning like the Joker on Ecstasy, completely unaware that her normal beauty had temporarily deserted her in a big way.

Today’s her actual, official birthday. At one year of age, she can walk with slow, unsteady steps, arms flung out in all directions so she looks like the world’s shortest zombie. She has added a couple of words to her vocabulary, namely “bottle” and “stop,” so they’re thinking of sending her to AA meetings. And she has become quite adept at operating her dad’s cell phone. Her specialty is the redial button. Trash’s uncle has become accustomed to getting rambling calls from her grandniece, who wants to brief him on such developments as “eehuhhgheebloough” and “gggbbgfbgggbgh.”

She’s growing up. It’s only a matter of time before she’s old enough to be embarrassed by the record that was made of her behavior the other day. I can’t wait.

posted by M. Giant 3:34 PM 0 comments


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