Ok, I told you I wasn’t going to be as fanatical about posting as I used to be, so I haven’t been. I think I had to take a break from the grind of it all. The waking up early or staying up late just to get a post published in a timely fashion was wearing me down, especially after doing it for a year straight. I’m just going to be a bit more chill when it comes to that timeline, and frankly, I need to be. Make no mistake however, the quest has still been going on. Every day. I just have to catch up with the blog posts about it.
Thursday was National Watermelon Day but it also happened to be another day of great celebration: my birthday. I have long made a big deal out of my birthday. As a youngster, because I was the only kid with a summer birthday, I always felt that people would forget about me – lost in the carefree days of summer fun. There were no bringing cupcakes to class. No parties with school chums. No getting together with the extended family because we were already together at our summer cottage. I would therefore start my propaganda campaign a few weeks before my birthday to make sure people knew it was coming. Signs were placed around the house letting everyone know the day was coming. Walking around with a sandwich board telling people only a few more shopping days. Placing a countdown calendar in a place of prominence. I would just make noise so I wouldn’t be forgotten on my birthday (not that I ever was). By the time my actual birthday arrived, I would have driven everyone crazy, especially my Aunt Peg who seemed to be in the path of most of my signage. I imagine that some forty years later, all those kids that were around our house still have a vague sense that my birthday is an event in mid-summer. I guess my long-game of marketing paid off.
We had no big plans for my birthday. It had been a crazy week so Lola and I agreed to take it easy. I went to work with little fanfare and had a pretty standard day. On my way home, I stopped at the store and picked up a quarter of a watermelon. I love watermelon. I always have. I feel like there are always people around who have a true love of watermelon. My niece Kate had it (has it). When she was little, she would be a watermelon fiend and eat two or three pieces with great delight before you could stop her. My niece Wavy is like that too. Some people just stay woke to the delight of a good piece of watermelon. Juicy, sweet, cool and refreshing. The perfect summer treat and I am kind of glad that my birthday falls on this particular holiday because it just seems perfect to me.
When I got home, Lola had just finished baking and was in the shower. Every year on my birthday Lola makes me a special cake. Last year, as we were just starting this quest, she made me a watermelon cake that couldn’t be beat. It looked and tasted like watermelon! Whatever cake she makes is always a fun surprise. This year, I told her don’t make a cake, let’s just have a nice easy night, but Lola made cupcakes anyway. They were a pecan-cream cheese frosting cupcake that she found in recipes from Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Lady. Ree has been someone whose recipes I have relied upon over the last year and Lola thought it would be special to use her recipes again for my day. It was a nice little tribute to the trials and tribulations of my quest. We had made a plan to go to dinner at Pomodoro’s in Bristol which is a great little Italian spot with a BYOB policy which makes it a little more fun. Lola was getting ready to go out so I had a minute all to myself before we would need to leave. I cut off a slice of watermelon and put a candle in it as a little tribute to my own celebratory day. I enjoyed it outside looking out at the late day sun. It was cool and refreshing as it always is. I am very grateful there is watermelon in this world.
This day was already as good as it could be with my cool watermelon and fridge full of awesome cupcakes, but now we had the chance to go out for a good dinner. Jeff and Becky were coming to meet us and our friend Matt would be coming too, so it was going to be a fun crew. We headed over the bridge and got there at about 6:30. There was about a 40-minute wait which is kind of typical (it’s a small place and not a lot of seats), so we decided to have a drink at the bar across the street as we waited. If you were to categorize this bar, you would file it somewhere between the classification of neighborhood bar and authentic dive. The air was heavy with cigarette smoke which meant that that smell has been lingering since the place went non-smoking probably over fifteen years ago. Matt and Lola ordered a mixed drink and I went for a bottle of beer. Apparently Matt and Lola have not heard about the dive bar rule of never order anything served in a glass (unless it’s straight booze), but the drinks were ordered so I didn’t stop them. There was a moment of awkwardness as we stood there at the bar with the ten or so patrons gawking at us, the sounds of Children of a Lesser God which was playing on the television filling the silence that overwhelmed the dank space. But then we saw there was a pool room in the back and we headed in there and had the room to ourselves. Jeff and Becky arrived and joined us in the pool room. They grabbed some draft beers (am I the only one that knows this no glasses at a dive bar rule?) and we had a great little time warming up for the night’s festivities. Eventually, the restaurant texted us that our table was ready so we marched across the street and sat down at a beautiful spot outside.
It was a great night of laughs and great food under a warm summer sky. Naturally we had five bottles of wine for our party of five, so conversation got lively and the laughs were loud and frequent. The food was fantastic. Unfortunately, they were out of clams for their mouthwatering clam appetizer where you end up taking loaves of bread and sopping up this wonderful broth, but we made up for that with giant plates of stuffed veal, fettuccini carbonara and plenty of leach balls (inside joke). It was one of those long nights where night settles in around you and you barely notice – you are too involved in having fun and being in the moment. At the end, Lola had brought some cupcakes so the server brought them out with candles lit and I was serenaded with a lovely version of “Happy Birthday”. The cupcakes were nice and sweet and the pecan flavor was bursting through. Really moist cake and cool frosting – perfection. We had an extra one and gave it to the server who seemed genuinely thrilled. I think we got home at about 10:30 capping off the end to a pretty great day. It’s nice to be celebrated.
I have to say National Watermelon Day is always one of my favorite holidays. I’ve been celebrating it all my life (and not even knowing it). Having Lola around to make my day even more special makes it that much sweeter. While I have always been an advocate of birthday self-promotion, as this birthday moved in, I was kind of celebrated out. I didn’t have any big plans for the day and frankly, we didn’t have the bandwidth to do anything on a grand scale. However Lola always makes it special even in the slightest of ways. A dinner with friends, a house full of cupcakes and a heart full of love. Everyone should be so lucky and that’s how I felt on this day. Plus I got to have some watermelon too,
Next up: National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day