Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Remembrance of birthdays past

So you wake up at 3:16am on your birthday? Is it the excitement? Or is the great honking birdlife outside across the creek? I'm tipping the birds. Anyhoo, it gave me half an hour or so to think back on past birthdays. Here's a few trips down memory lane. Be warned, not all of them show me in a particularly lovely mood.

1. Age 6: The McDonalds Birthday Party. Now it's a little while since I was six so I can't actually remember if this was my birthday or one of my little grade one friends. I don't think that actually matters. What I do remember is the cheeseburger, the icecream cake, the poor girl working there who had to entertain us by playing games with McDonald's paraphernalia, and the playground outside to which we all retreated after the inside fun was over.

2. Age 7: The Backyard family afternoon tea where I received my first ever Enid Blyton Malory Towers book (the second one). There began a lifetime fascination with English boarding school stories, midnight feasts, lacrosse (whatever the hell that was), and an odd desire to change my name to either Gwendoline or Daphne. Why my parents found this hilarious I have no idea. My dream was partly fulfilled when I named a cat Daphne a few years ago. She was perhaps the most unpleasantly tempered cat in the universe. I digress

3. Age about 10 or 11: The Birthday party at home with all your school friends. LOTS of presents. Mainly books - surprise! But two other gifts remain stuck in my memory. Some groovy shoelaces - white with pink kisses on them - meant to be worn as hair accessories. I thought they were so cool. It was the 80s so stop scoffing. And a china shepherdess ornament that WAS ALSO A BELL. We played pass the parcel, statues, drank a lot of cordial and another great game that involved everyone taking off their shoes, mixing them up in a big jumble at the end of the backyard and then having to run and find your own. Yes, I know it sounds lame now, but it was fun at the time.

4. All the birthdays from age 10- 12 when I didn't get a Cabbage Patch Kid. They were new, they were hyped, everyone else seemed to be getting one except me no matter how much I whinged about it. And then, the ultimate betrayal, my younger sister arrives and by the age of THREE has a Cabbage Patch Kid. I still bring this up sometimes in family conversations. The same was true for Poppers ( My brother and I didn't get them, while my sister did) and watching Australian soap operas. I may have been the only person in my peer group who wasn't allowed to watch A Country Practice of Neighbours. Not that it's scarred me for life or anything.

5. Age 13: The Teenage Tantrum Birthday at the Gold Coast. I had just been away on a two week tour with the local youth orchestra travelling to Sydney, Canberra and through NSW. I may have been a little overtired. I met back up with my parents at the Gold Coast and we spent my birthday in my grandparents beachhouse at Palm Beach. Memories are a little hazy but there seemed to be difficulty in finding a cake. My father (ever the one for the "cheaper" option - and I say that in a loving, daughterly way) came home with a jam sponge. A JAM SPONGE I ASK YOU?. It didn't even have proper icing!!! Cue, Wendy throws a tantrum most unbecoming.

6. Age 16: The New Watch, Getting your learner's permit birthday. Suffice to say I don't think that Mum's Datsun 200B ever quite recovered from the numerous times I stalled it. I didn't understand gears then, and don't really now. That's why I drive an automatic car.

7. Age 17: The Second Tantrum Birthday. I had a perforated eardrum and had spent the previous evening waiting in the outpatients at the dreaded BUNDABERG HOSPITAL. Needless to say I wasn't really in the mood to go to school and find my friends had photocopied and distributed posters that it was birthday round the school. I WAS NOT IN THE MOOD.

8. Age 18: The University Birthday. I was at Uni...first birthday away from home. Great friends made it a great day. Pity I don't see any of them anymore. It was exciting going to the post office and finding my present from home there ON THE ACTUAL DAY though. Oh...there may have been alcohol involved. Let's not go there. It's all a little unflattering.

9. Age 21: Funnily enough this was particularly unmemorable. I don't even know what I got.

And then after that they all become a blur. (Note: nos. 6 and 7 may be round the wrong way. I can't remember that either)


Catriona said...

It's your birthday?

Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday, dear Wendy!
Happy birthday to you!

Just to make it all about me for a moment, I don't recall any temper tantrums (oh, I'm sure there were some) but I almost always had a panic attack once friends actually arrived and locked myself in my bedroom.

And, on a slightly more related digressive note, isn't it odd how we, who grew up reading school stories, associate lacrosse with a particularly middle-class, English, girls'-school scenario, and then in American films, it's always played as a full-contact sport by heavily armoured boys?

That always strikes me as odd.

2paw said...

Happy Birthday!!! My word your birthdays are memorable. I don't remember much, ours were low key, a friend to tea, a small party every second year, BUT you could choose the food for tea. I always had spaghetti bol (very cutting edge way back when) and pavlova!!! Hope there are no causes for tantrums today!!!

Wendy said...

Thanks for the birthday wishes ladies!! Catriona your birthdays sound a little traumatic...and yes now you mention it the whole lacrosse thing is very strange. Growing up in subtropical qld I always found the notion of chilblains very intriguing as well but I'm sure they're awful.

2paw...there are many not very memorable birthdays in there too I have to say. We used to do the same thing with the food and it was so exciting to choose the meal for the night. Actually, I am dinnering with my parents and grandma this evening and have chosen the meal....barbeque! followed my mini cupcakes. Exotique indeed ;)

No tantrums yet....but there's still time... :)

Catriona said...

I didn't really cope well with being the centre of attention when I were a lass. I still don't, which is why I wonder why I chose a career that involves so much public speaking. Odd, really. Thankfully, though you never get less terrified, you do get better at hiding it.

(I think it was more traumatic for my parents than for me. When I had my interview at U.Syd., my father tells me he barely slept the night before, because he remembered my birthday parties and pictured me locking myself in the hotel-room bathroom and refusing to come out. Humph.)

Just to make your birthday a little more about me, I never had a Cabbage Patch doll, either. I still resent that, slightly.

Wendy said...

I'm the same. Particularly when we would get visitors and I would be forced to "play the piano" for them...as the afternoon tea entertainment. I always had a horrible feeling that I was boring them to tears. But there was no getting out of it. So strange that I chose to study something that required performing, and then, like you, public speaking. I don't htink i ever locked myself in a room though. Your poor father...

Those Cabbage Patch Dolls...maybe I'll get one some day. I'm still a little resentful myself - if you couldn't tell ;)

Catriona said...

Eh, "poor father" nothing! He might have been traumatised by my birthday parties, but you'd think he'd have some respect for my professionalism.

I only locked myself in the bathroom for about ten minutes.


Wendy said...

Ten minutes hey?! Still sounds slightly unpleasant I have to say. But well done on getting out of there again ;)