Today was my 31st birthday. While I'm sure other '79 babies out there were lamenting another year into their thirties or turning 21 all over again, I was instead chomping at the bit for my big day because my wish list was crammed full of a lot of the toys you see on PTT. Also, 31 is a better number than 30. And I knew my obliging husband, who is just as quirky as me thank goodness, would be more than happy to have an excuse to buy toys! When it comes to him, though, the toy search doesn't usually go that well. He apparently is looking for toys that existed only on Io during the first Tuesday of the seventh month of odd-numbered years. I recently witnessed him tell a grizzled veteran vintage toy store owner "Never mind, I can't really describe it" when this gentleman asked him what he was looking for. No Ants In My Pants for him, no sir! Is it so rare that it's actually not physically possible for a human being to find it without the assistance of deep-sea-exploration robots? Yep, that's the one he's looking for!
My friends were no problem either. They were geeked out at the idea of a pal of theirs having a retro birthday party with My Little Pony and pastel-colored ice cream. I've figured out that most of them are friends with me as an excuse to get away from pretending to be interested in things normal people do. But when my Dad came around asking for what I wanted, I cringed a bit when I said "Uh....ponies?"
Would Dad go home, stare into the mirror, and wonder where he went wrong to raise a daughter that asked for PONIES for her thirty-something birthday?
Granted, he's used to it with me I'd figure. When I come around with a beat-up grocery bag from the thrift store and pour out my latest assortment of pathetic gewgaws and playthings, I don't get disapproval from him but a sense of "Well, good, she must be feeling well...if the day comes that she doesn't look at a half-moldy, decapitated oxen figurine and feel immediate need to 'rescue' it, I'll know we need to call 911." Let's face that our parents don't need to get or approve of what we do as adults, but it always feels nice to get a "Good job!" or "That's cool!" when it comes to our random passions, doesn't it?
My husband hit a home run this morning when he asked me to close my eyes and, upon opening them, my gaze fell upon a Rubbermaid container overflowing with ponies. He had heard me say "Man, it would be amazing to just come across a huge tub of ponies or something sometime!" I knew it happened to collectors but it was about as rare as a hamster that runs a hot dog vending cart in a tourist town. So instead he made it happen in a different way. He never ceases to amaze me when it comes to the diligence and thought he'll put into my gifts when they often take these very specific paths. He won't just give you an Elvis CD collection, he'll somehow find a way to shove electrodes up Elvis's tailpipe and get the King himself to sign one last autograph from the beyond. See why I married him?
So Dad came over tonight with some ponies my husband helped him to get on eBay. I wasn't expecting anything else nor would I have been sad had he just handed me a plastic bag and said "Here. Ponies." This is not man's territory and I give my husband and Dad credit for even going there into a world of ponies that poop rainbows. Instead, he walks in with some garbage bags which he began ripping open. Out pours a bunch of candy-colored balloons with ponies on them that he blew up himself. He grins and says he needs to go to the car for something else.
(He also brought me an adorable card that features a kitten singing "Happy Birthday" which was "signed" by my two cats. My two cats would actually rather soil my clean clothes, sit on my head when they want me to wake up, and stick their paws into my food when I'm not looking than get their beloved Mama a card, so Dad even managed to see good in two incorrigible brats.)
Comes back in bearing a cake. Not just any cake, but a cake in pony-esque colors and one that had My Little Pony decals on it. Not sure if he put the decals on himself but I suspected it which makes it all the more mind blowing. This is a former Air Force Captain we're talking about here, not Mr. Rogers. Taped to the top is a little unicorn and a Pony "birthday girl" badge. Candles were provided, but not just any candles...they were the kind that burn in various colors rather than just your standard "Devil's Hellfire" shades. (I'm sure the Ponies would approve) He had then crafted little boxes to put my eBay finds in and wrapped them. When I finally opened the packages, I found that he had hunted for more Pony-themed birthday trinkets and put them in the box. When I unwrapped a Pony tablecloth, two of the Newborn ponies rolled out!
Color me shocked. (This color is a nice ombre of Pony Pink to Unicorn United Nations Blue)
The momentousness of these gestures grew in my mind as the evening passed. I know him enough to know he wouldn't have put two seconds of thought into something he didn't approve of. When Dad goes so far as to bring you a pink My Little Pony birthday badge that he bought himself rather than send a proxy female in to find, he must find some value in what you do. He doesn't have to get it or get into it with me, he just needs to know that little things mean a lot; it shows that he's listening and not going home to wonder if that time I rolled an occupied Hula-Coupe down the basement stairs didn't also lead to latent head injury. Besides, some of us have to be the keepers of things that make up childhood for kids of the 80s. His generation worships the '57 Chevy and The Mickey Mouse Club while mine just happens to get misty-eyed over My Little Ponies and Transformers.
So I'm just posting to say I'm lucky. Lucky to have been truly surprised and touched tonight by the thoughtful efforts my Dad put into my gifts and for understanding and appreciation of my interests that doesn't need to be said to be felt. Lucky to have a husband who appreciates someone who will never say "Just get me something useful, like a broom" and would probably take a train to Australia if that's what it took to find a special gift. I'm lucky. And I'm very appreciative of the love I was shown today.