Fiftieth Birthday Party
Yesterday was my wife’s fiftieth birthday. We emigrated from Thailand to Fuengirola, Malaga, on the Costa del Sol about six weeks ago, and we still don’t know many people, so she sensibly didn’t want to hold a fiftieth birthday party. However, fifty years has to be celebrated, as does every birthday. in my opinion.
In fact, I love other people’s birthday celebrations, and I would even like my own, but I don’t like being the centre of attention.
Being eleven thousand kilometres from her home and family in Thailand, and also being a family-oriented mother and grandmother, my wife was feeling extraordinarily homesick, so it seemed perfect to me when the Spanish Internet service provider MovieStar offered to install WiFi in our new apartment at nine o’clock on her birthday.
Thai time is six hours ahead of Spanish time, making it three o’clock there, which is great for the stay-at-home mums and the elderly. It would also give us time to go out for lunch and get back for the crucial two p.m. call (8 p.m. Thai) to the working age group, which tends to get home at seven thirty Thai time.
That last group also includes my wife’s daughter and granddaughter (via her son daughter-in-law). Needless to say, that is the most, if not the all-important group. Those two calls would trump anything I could do for her during the day by far… by miles and miles and more.
At nine twenty, I received a call from MovieStar saying that the installer would be at our apartment between ten and eleven and ‘could we be home, please!
At one, I phoned to see where they were, because the crucial two o’clock deadline was fast approaching.
“We will be at your door in forty minutes!” they assured me. After all, I had explained four times over two says why ‘two o’clock’ was so important.
At two ten, we went to the nearest pub with Internet access. At two fifteen, the installer said that he could be outside our apartment at two thirty, so we went home.
My wife was biting her nails by now.
They arrived at three o’clock – nine o’clock in Thailand, which is bed-time for many.
They finished the installation at four o’clock and noticed that my wife was in tears.
“It is ready!” the engineer announced proudly, but my wife just cried…. inconsolably.
She knew what they did not, that she had missed her window to talk to her most-loved ones on her big day. I tried to explain, but the installers didn’t quite understand. They wished her a ‘Happy Birthday’, but for my wife, her birthday was already over and meaningless.
In an attempt to save the situation, we went outside ‘to anywhere she wanted’.
She chose the beach, which was fine by me, but the weather was so bad that the council of Fuengirola had cordoned it off. It was also high tide, leaving only a metre of wet sand available to sit on.
“Let’s sit on that!” she cried.
“You can’t,” I tried to explain, “it has been roped off and the tide is coming in… not to mention the fact that it’s freezing cold!”
“But you promised me I could go wherever I wanted!” she said unreasonably, in my opinion.
I didn’t have an answer… only a very angry woman could say something that irrational.
We walked to a bar, where my wife had a red wine, and I had a beer. She stroked and talked to strangers’ dogs, and I looked on bewildered. I had never seen her do that before… not in twelve years. In fact, for the first three years of our relationship, she had positively detested dogs.
After that drink, we found a restaurant that she fancied, and ordered the first course of the set meal, which was priced at €18.75 each including wine. After that first course, she said that she was full and wanted to go home!
Things had gone from really strange to really weird!
Anyway, her second course of pork, went untouched except for the piece she cut for me to try. However, I was becoming annoyed with her and didn’t pay attention when she fed it to me, and I spent the next painful minutes wondering whether I might choke on it. Neem was sort of paying attention to my plight, but not really… she was still in tears, but this time because she had discovered a video of her granddaughter singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to her.
“Will you make sure that I get home, please?” she asked in a pathetic voice.
“Of course!” I replied not really understanding the question. Minutes later, she went to the ladies’.
The sweet was delivered. Cheesecake for her and ice cream for me, but no wife. Halfway through my ice cream, I asked a waitress to check the toilet, but there was no-one there.
In a panic, I paid the bill and took the route home, which she had told me she didn’t know. I scanned each bar and restaurant on the way through the windows, but in vain.
My last option, since I do not own a phone and Neem never checks her email, was to go home, which I did.
She was lying on the couch under a blanket purring.
I don’t know whether I have ever been happier, but that moment was right up there.
I am writing this at seven thirty the next morning from the bar nearest to our apartment. I couldn’t sleep and Neem is still out cold. It is not a fiftieth birthday party that I would wish on anyone, and I am glad that no-one else was invited.
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All the best,
Podcast: Fiftieth Birthday Party