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1:19 p.m. - 2012-06-20
Mick is 53! Wheee!!!!

Today is my beloved Mick's 53rd birthday. Along with being grateful down to my bone marrow he was born in the first place and lived long enough to find me, for the next six months I get to say he's four years older than I am. This is a biggie for me. Plus, as Mick pointed out yesterday he's an old codger in his fifties while his sweet bride is still in her forties thus making him something of a cradle robber. Hey, it's our own little comforting fiction and we're sticking with it.

I think every relationship has its narrative which doesn't quite jibe with the facts. Bad relationships gloss over and turn blind eyes to the hurty parts and there is much pretending everything is just dandy. (Boy, do I know that one!) Good relationships have their myths too, but they are mostly benign things. Ignoring a heroin addiction? Bad. Ignoring my new belly and saying I'm still his pretty, pretty girl? Good.

Though while I'm on the subject of my expanded self I realized the other day I'm unhappy with it and am making some changes. I'm not going to be boring about it and wax rhapsodic about how much I love kale and how it's ever so much yummier than tortilla chips. Nor will I do a lot of whining. I got myself into this mess and am well able to get myself back out without becoming one of those diet people. People on diets are even more annoying than the newly converted religious and I swear to you I won't be doing any proselytizing about Jesus or bran flakes. I might do a little crowing when I can burn my fat pants, but this, I think, is entirely forgivable.

Wolf is such a low-key sort of guy it's really difficult to spot when he's upset or excited about things. To the casual observer Wolf moves through life in a constant state of Zen, though without the blissed out Dalai Lama smile. He doesn't tantrum or flap his arms or shout. He doesn't go all spazzy like I do when I'm happy about something and grab people by their shirtfronts and drag them over to the shiny thing I'm dorking out over and yodel, "LOOK! SEE?? Isn't this GREAT?????" Wolf doesn't growl or swear or slam doors like his opera diva of a mother does quite regularly over such 'disasters' as a window refusing to shut properly or discovering a big stain on my shirt. If he weren't wearing the obvious stamp of my DNA on his face you wouldn't know this most mellow of guys was mine at all. Okay, he has an astonishing vocabulary and when he does choose to speak he's remarkably articulate. Something his teachers and my 3-D friends with teenagers of their own comment on with more than a bit of stunned wonder. Used to the grunting profane mostly monosyllabic utterances of the usual teenaged guy Wolf speaking in complete sentences using words like 'phototropic' and 'ambivalent' tends to knock people sideways. So his wordy speech and snotty vocabulary mark him as mine as well. When given compliments about my son's unusually articulate way of going on I say thank you nicely, but then tack on a laughing comment that my kid had to learn to speak well or he'd never get a word in edgewise during our nightly dinner table conversations. Others might use the family dinner to assign chores or dole out punishments for bad grades and messy rooms, but in this house dinnertime is a combo of TED Talk and Algonquin round table. Crap like reminders about emptying the cat box and bringing laundry upstairs is saved for later. We talk. And young or old you'd best be able to contribute or be doomed to glumly chewing and listening in silence.

The way we go on at dinner was something Mick had to adjust to as well. In the O'Gaelic house dinnertime was an orgy of angry bitching. Every supposed wrong ever done to them was hashed over and complained about every single night, every pissed off thought had its time at their table. The nightly hate fest was enjoyed far more than the food. Nothing gave them more pleasure than trash talk about bosses and neighbors, bitter brooding about being victims of a world that was too ignorant to understand how morally right and deserving of special treatment the O'Gaelics were, and no slight real or imagined ever went by without at least a decade's worth of indignant carping about it. The first few times I was exposed to the ugly self-satisfied hatred toward the entire world and every single person in it which comprised the nightly table talk at the O'Gaelic house my stomach clenched in on itself and I honestly became nauseous. It didn't take long before Mick noticed my distress, but so well versed in his family's sickness of misanthropy and joyful hatred he didn't understand what was laying me so low. Why I only managed about three bites before I shut down and spent the rest of that hateful meal looking down, rearranging the food around on my plate and trying hard not to throw up in my lap. He twigged it eventually. Especially after he moved in here and spent some time at a table where ideas and theories and pleasure are taken seriously. Once outside his family's nightly Thunderdome of hideous lip-smacking anger and pleased self-righteousness Mick has come to truly enjoy meals where fun and exercising your brain (not your spleen!) is the purpose.

Anyhow, I brought up Wolf and his even-keel because it's subtle but he's genuinely torqued about his birthday on Monday. It's a bit of a bummer that his birthday is so close to Mick's. I can relate. Alex's birthday is Jan 16th and mine is Jan 21st and for twenty years my birthday got shunted aside and was a taggle-end afterthought because the celebrations for my first born were paramount. Not that Wolf's birthday gets short-shrift, not at all. It's just this year now that he's transferred back to district school and his built-in friend pool isn't there anymore, this year's birthday is looking pretty lonesome. Wolf has made some school friends, but only the most superficial kind. Propinquity pals where once the commonality of shared classes or the daily bus ride is gone there's not a lot left to go on. He's lonely. His BFF Mack has been forced into being his Alzheimer patient grandfather's fulltime caretaker and shaking loose from grandpa duty requires a ton of rescheduling and begging his dad for a break. (Mack's father is NOT my favorite guy anyhow, so this indentured servitude he's put on his kid makes me furious.) I've promised Wolf that if he can't scare up a quorum for an afternoon/evening of pizza, cake and video games that Mick and I will whisk him off to Seaside for the day. But spending the day body surfing while his combustible ancient parents hide in the shade of a beach umbrella and he doesn't have anyone else to goof around with sounds pretty sucktastic, even with all the rides, games, and boardwalk food he wants.

I know that being an only child, a socially isolated autistic only child, is Wolf's normal and that he might not mind his solitude as much as I worry it does, me with my horde of sisters and piles of friends and teammates when I was Wolf's age. When I turned 15 over 75 people showed up at my birthday party. This despite a wicked snowstorm. So the idea of Wolf spending the day having to amuse himself, even if it's at one of his favorite places on the planet, well, it just kills me. Especially because I can see he's really proud he's going to be 15. Deep-voiced, almost as tall as his old mom, heading into his sophomore year in high school after a very successful freshman year back at public school without a single disciplinary tussle or any of the other social/academic problems that landed him in the alternative school in the first place. He has reason to celebrate and be proud, I just wish he had some warm bodies around his own age to party with.

Today, however, belongs to Mick. My darling mannie. A genuinely Good Guy. An athlete. A questioner of the status quo. A protector. Corny joke teller. VW aficionado. Strong of body, smushy of heart. A tidy, conscientious, romantic who's the bravest person I've ever known.

Happy Birthday, my darling.

I love you with everything I have, ~LA

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