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Why 40 is the greatest birthday ever…

· You get to work inside a gumball machine
· Everyone else around you may be wearing black, but you can wear whatever you want
· Cake
· Random visits from coworkers willing to sit in a pile of balloons with you yelling “Bazinga!”
· Cake
· You get to squeeze a squeezebox
· Someone brings you amazing shoes
· Cake

Generally our office recognizes major birthdays (those ending on 0’s and 5’s) with a little more zest than regular birthdays. We have an ever-expanding box of “over the hill” decorations that we draw from, so it’s never a real surprise that your desk or office looks like a party morgue the morning of your birthday; the surprise is how it’s arranged. So I was expecting streamers and signs and maybe confetti and I was expecting everyone to be in black. I wore the brightest colors I could find in my closet and feigned surprise over the black tulle and streamers around my door for the camera. Then I opened my door and screamed. MY OFFICE WAS FILLED WITH BALLOONS!!! Bree said it took her and her mom over an hour to blow them up and two car trips to get them all to my office. I immediately sat down in the middle of them. Bree took a few pictures, which was intimidating as I was in a skirt and flailing about in static-laced air, but I managed to not expose myself. Bree wouldn’t have minded anyway, we flirt all the time. So that was my first surprise. My second surprise was an ALL_COLLEGE email from the head of marketing and public affairs with a picture of me laid out amidst the balloons along with a Happy 40th Birthday wishes me and a Happy December Birthday wishes for all the December birthdays at the college. I got a lot of emails, phone calls, and drop in visits that day! Anyone who stopped by was invited to sit in my balloons which I had corralled behind some cardboard so that they only took up half of my office. A lot of people actually took me up on the offer! One of my coworkers complained about being in black to mourn my 40th – she said considering she was turning 60 next year she couldn’t bring herself to mourn turning 40. My third surprise was the number of gifts people brought me! A John Lennon poster, some note cards, hot chocolate with real whipped cream, a Christmas cactus, a homemade magnetic picture board, and a most amazing pair of vintage shoes. The office even did a healthy luncheon for me because they knew I’m on Weight Watchers!

Around 2pm the smell of the rubber was giving me a headache, but I couldn’t bear to pop them because they were so brightly colored and happy I felt like I was working from inside a gumball machine. So I enlisted the help of someone from the financial aid office and we hid the balloons in their supply closet in hopes it would tumble on someone. It was really hard to do! They kept trying to escape or fall out of the closet, and we were giggling so much I’m surprised no one caught us. Christa spent the next few hours sending her coworkers to the closet to help her fetch things, each time replacing the balloons. I missed most of this as I was working the front counter; then I simply forgot about them. My husband showed up for our yoga class, and I was frantically trying to get everything in order so that I could leave right on time as we only have ten minutes between my getting off from work and yoga starting. Right at 4:30 the head of the Financial Aid Office entered the supply closet on a quest for toner and was accosted by the balloons. She was not amused. I felt awful. I tried to get the balloons out of her way, but balloons are not cooperative and I had class to get to. She said it was okay, but then the balloons caused her to drop the toner cartridges, which immediately sank into the heap of balloons on the floor and disappeared. She made a very aggravated sound. I ratted out Christa and fled! I brought her cookies the next morning and assured her it had been my scheme, not Christa’s – but it turns out she thought it was funny and wanted to move the balloons into the admissions supply closet to try to get someone else!

Meanwhile, we were late for yoga, but barely. And everyone wished me a happy birthday as we got to our spots. One person even asked if I was the one with all the balloons, so I got to explain they were why we were late – which got a laugh.

Then it was rush, rush, rush to choir practice – where I was greeted by a chorus of Happy Birthday! Toaster ended it with “now you are 40!!” Then four other members arrived and they sang it again. Toaster added more comments about being 40 throughout the song. Finally, our piano player arrived and they sang it again, this time with the most amazing piano accompaniment ever - it was a hugely rich sound with loads of flourishes and crescendos. Toast didn’t even bother singing; she just chanted 40, 40, 40 throughout the performance.

I finally made it home around 8:30 that evening and Monkeys excitedly gave me a freshly baked cookie and my birthday present - a concertina! I brought it to work the next day and tormented everyone with attempting to play Joy to the World by ear without knowing where any of the notes were or what I was doing.

So – 40 is pretty much awesome. I highly recommend it.

(Next The Gingerbread party and continuation of my 40th birthday celebrations…)



( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 9th, 2010 03:32 pm (UTC)
40, for me, was WAY NOT the greatest birthday ever. It started out really crappy, in fact, but it got quite a bit better.

50, for me, was THE GREATEST BIRTHDAY *EVAH*!!!!!
Dec. 10th, 2010 11:11 pm (UTC)
30 sucked for me so 40 can only be better right? Maybe I'll try to be in the south on my 42nd!

I am SO JEALOUS of your concertina! I love them because they are so cute!!!
Dec. 11th, 2010 11:52 pm (UTC)
Nobody would believe you were 40.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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