Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Best Birthday Ever!!

I have to say this was one of the best birthdays I’ve had in a long time. After you hit 21, you kind of lose track but this one was memorable on a number of levels.

First, Leo, my wonderful husband, got me the present I asked for (4 days ahead of my birthday no less); then I walk into work and everyone (meaning the other 3 people who work there) had decorated my office with balloons and Happy Birthday signs as well as a bouquet of flowers. How sweet!

But the best part of the day was a couple of phone calls I received. First, it was my oldest friend in the world Stephanie calling from Grand Rapids, Michigan. We’ve lost touch and had our differences over the years (mostly due to me being an idiot), but it was so great to hear her voice again and to catch up with her life. She’s doing so great (which I always knew she would) and seems so happy.

I’m so proud of her and can’t believe I’ve known her since I was in 4th grade! I know for some people this is no big deal-they have friends they’ve grown up with, but I’ve moved about a dozen times since then, there have been marriages, children, divorces and other life changing events since then and we’ve still been friends. And that’s something I’m eternally grateful for.

The other great phone calls were from my Dad and Step-Mom, who sang Happy Birthday and then my aunt called. I never get to talk to her, so that was such an unexpected surprise. Not to mention, she had tons of cool stories, including being airlifted out of Darfur after almost being arrested there.

She’s a pediatrician in Michigan and went there to help out, but apparently the local government tribunal is very strict about practicing medicine there without an African license (even though the charity she was trying to help told her she was fine).

To make a long story short, the penalty for this could have been imprisonment in a Sudan jail, but she made it out safe. Although she said she didn’t breathe easy until she was on the plane and in the air. How cool is that story?

Leo and I went out to dinner at Kous Kous, a Moroccan restaurant in Hillcrest. It was delicious and I would have taken pictures except the gay mafia who are the waiters in that part of town would have made fun of me (that and I forgot the camera).

We had cumin-spiced carrots for an appetizer and I had the vegetarian Berber’s tangine (which had tons of peas that I surprisingly didn’t mind—this is normally the one and only vegetable I hate with a passion) and he had the lamb tangine.

Then Leo decided to tell our waiter that it was my birthday and he brought out a strawberry dish and proceeded to sing Happy Birthday, a capella and more or less in falsetto.

When the bill came, it was so difficult to decide how much to tip. We knew it had to be 20% or more since he was so nice and gave us free dessert and sang and everything, but then we were like, “What if he doesn’t think 25% is good enough?”

Even as a former waitress, it’s always stressful when the bill comes and its time to tip.

I’m not sure if I like the European system of not tipping better, because it was really hard to get the server’s attention there and you could go for hours without your glass being refilled.

But at least it saves you from the waiter suck-up talk of things like, “I hope you enjoyed your time with us.”

“We’re so glad you dined with us tonight. Please consider us for your next celebration”

“This wine is a buttery-soft blend of apples, strawberries and kiwis. Try it sweetie, you’ll love it”

“Our main course tonight is a delectable blend of blah blah blah”

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