In an ordinary year on the day of my birthday, I told Mary, who brought me coffee and the crossword in bed this morning, she would have already claimed two palapas for us on Las Brisas’s half-moon Pacific beach in Mexico, after which we’d have a big breakfast under banyan trees before going down to read our books and sip, from about noon on, margaritas that rival my own.
Our eldest daughter, Emily, who lives in northwestern Ohio, was thinking along similar lines, I found, when she called.
She had, she said, unfolded in her kitchen one of the beach chairs she’s to take with them to Florida’s Panhandle soon, and was reclining in it with dark glasses on when one of her sons remarked volubly on the bizarreness of her behavior in passing by.
Unfazed, she closed her eyes and continued to imagine that she and Amanda were sitting side by side under an umbrella on a summer’s day at Indian Wells with their Villa Combos and Schwenk’s iced tea. Amanda naturally would have the crossword on her lap and Emily’s lightning-quick answers to relayed questions would invariably be met with a not-entirely-convinced “I’ll have to confirm that” before Amanda would invariably wind up writing Emily’s answers in, invariably with a Marvy Le Pen marker, whose “micro-fine plastic point is made for precise accuracy . . . perfect for filling out important forms. . . .”
One can be forgiven for day-dreaming thus on a wintry day. I have done so with such dexterity in the past that I had my mother convinced we’d returned from a vacation before we’d ever left.
“So, what are you going to do on your birthday?” my co-workers asked during our Zoom editorial meeting later in the morning.
What a question! I would sweep the cars off the snow, join O’en in his pursuit of the ever-elusive schneezle, glide through the aisles of the Amagansett I.G.A. with the greatest of ease, say “bin-there, done-that” when asked if I’d gone to the dump, and make Mary a dinner so memorable she would forget, for a moment or so, about the beach in Zihuatenejo.