On Birthdays, Cheese and Wine
Although I’m a Leo, I really despise being the center of attention. Like, really despise it. I take-an-F-on-a-presentation-so-I-don’t-have-to-speak-in-front-of-the-class despise it. So, it’s easy to understand why I haven’t had a traditional birthday party in over ten years. Don’t get me wrong; I like celebrating my birthday (i.e. I like free stuff), but anyone, even people I love, singing a bizarre, repetitive children’s song makes me want to scamper upstairs and hide under the bed like a dog frightened of thunder.
Turning twenty-two was the most uneventful age I’ve encountered in awhile. First, sweet sixteen, seventeen gets you into R-rated movies, eighteen brings a myriad of “adult” privileges, nineteen and twenty are the transition out of teenager-hood, and of course, twenty-one—the legal drinking age. Twenty-two held nothing of excitement for me, so I was even less enthusiastic about my birthday than usual. My friend Lauren was perplexed, and kept insisting we get together.
She succeeded in getting me out of the house for a low-key, couch-sitting “party” at her place. I wasn’t expecting much, but when I got there she greeted me with an entire coffee table full of different cheeses and wines. A huge baked Brie stood next to a single cupcake, a cup of squeaky cheese curds was nestled by a sampling of wine, some really expensive cheddars sat front and center, and in the corner lay two things I had never tried before: Ski Queen gjetost and black caviar. The caviar was deliciously briny, but had a strange texture I couldn’t quite get behind. The gjetost on the other hand, became something of a small obsession. It’s not something I can eat all the time, given its sweet and distinct flavor, but when the craving hits, I’m really bummed if I don’t have some stocked in the fridge.
We sat for hours on the floor of Lauren’s living room, indulging in light chatter and watching reruns of Daria on DVD. It was one of those summer nights when time stood still in the heat. Candles burned down to waxy pools as we tasted free cheeses, and slightly brain-fuzzy from the wine and all our laughter, I thought isn’t this how all birthdays should be?