birthday tales

from thirty years ago:

Happy Birthday to me. (Discovered from Mark that yesterday was Krishna's birthday). I seem to manage to get only 4-5 hours of sleep here -- so noisy. Paper says it was 104 degrees yesterday. Went to Mark's office -- coffee and pleasant chat (dinner date for next Tuesday). Walked through incredible streets to the Red Fort. A grand, beautifully simple walled city. Sat on the floor of the Emperor's Pavilion -- joined by a charming Indian lad who spoke no English. Delightful game pushing coins back and forth, sign-language communication, scratching our names on the floor with a pebble. He gave me a chain bracelet, smoked my cigarettes with joy but wouldn't take money. Strange cuts on his hands -- some kind of religious self-effacement? (He was proud of two great scars on his belly). Walked down the Chandni Chowk and a side alley to the Jama Masjid. He went in and I should have waited but it was beastly hot. So I took a taxi to the Janpath. Iced tea at the Imperial Hotel, brief look at the bazaar and back to my room (which is only 35 rupees, I find -- about $5). Wrote letters. Had dinner. Birthday smokes and a good letter to Patricia.

Xerox prints on special paper? India II: Letter to Patricia. Mount original aeorgramme on fabric to form Mughal or Tibetan "frame". Xerox. Frame original with print #1. 50 signed + numbered prints. [Later note comments: "hashish-ishness"]

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from Tale 116:

Things I didn't expect on my fifty-eighth birthday:

waking on a wooden bench
drinking coffee at a bus stop before dawn
brushing my teeth at Ala Moana Shopping Center
drinking Jack Daniels
washing Kory K's dishes
watching "Hello Dolly"
pretending to steal Kory K's last pack of cigarettes
drinking a shot of Seagrams Seven as a nightcap
going to sleep on a wooden bench

And, most of all:

being alive

Among the online birthday greetings there was one, tongue firmly in cheek, a variation on "another year older, another year wiser". I'm inclined to believe we are born wise and it diminishes with each passing year. One advantage I do perceive of advancing age is the change in love, or more exactly, the change in loving. Encountering someone for whom we feel love is itself a blessing, there is no longer the hunger of youth to have those feelings returned. And loving is not so dependent on the physical but arises from an immediately sensed comradeship, a spiritual affinity, so to speak.

K.M. is probably the last of the old-style "loves"* and even that was only falsely perceived as such by me, looking for a familiar framework.

* oh brother, was I wrong about that

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from Tale 314:

Monday, of course, was the day. Yvette came to campus at lunchtime, partly because of the event and partly because I'd told her I thought she'd enjoy the current show at the Commons Gallery, the first truly "contemporary" Hawaiian art I've seen. Kory K joined us and we went to the Garden where he loaned me the money to buy myself a beer. I'm still not sure whether to admire his sassiness or never speak to him again, but then many people have bought me beer for my birthday but he's absolutely the first to loan me money to buy my own.

After they left to return to work, I went downhill, bought a Hurricane and sat in the secluded grove listening to Dylan, wore out a pair of batteries rewinding to hear "To Make You Feel My Love" quite a few times, and then went to spend the evening with "Mme de Crécy" [blame Proust] and Helen R.

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from Tale 483:

The birthday got off to a fine start with a cup of coffee handed to me by Bobby at McD's. Victor is on vacation this week, so they changed Bobby from the evening shift. He is such a sweetie, so shy. And there was Victor sitting at a table eating breakfast. Sheez, if I worked in a McD's and had a week off, I wouldn't go near the place. But Victor has quite a fan club there and they were all stopping over to say hello, to tease him about getting behind the counter. There's a large, probably Samoan, lady who fills in one day a week as morning manager and she got quite irked recently when some of the old regulars wouldn't switch to her line, preferred to wait for Victor. Little wonder, the fellow seems always to be happy and smiling, always has the right cheerful banter.

I finished the Stephen Birmingham book with my second cup of coffee so after a brief visit to campus, returned to the mall for a quick snipe hunt and went on to the State Library to pick up some more killing-time books. Although his young friend had been at the hacienda, the Sleeptalker hadn't been with him. For the Sleeptalker, I think these occasional night visits are like putting a toe in the water, finding it still too cold, and waiting awhile before trying again. He told me he hates staying at the shelter but he apparently hates even more carrying around clothes to make the hacienda a more comfortable place to spend the night. He wasn't at the State Library, either. Maybe the new buddy isn't as patient as Angelo.

A stop at the supermarket on the way back to campus. Luxury lunch of French Burgundy pate with Breton wheat crackers, Spanish olives, cottage cheese and a chilled Starbucks Mocha. The first such splurge of the month, but then it was April 12th, after all. I had tucked away two dollar bills to make certain I wouldn't end up feeling sorry for myself in case no one offered to buy me a birthday beer. Then my cigarette lighter's flint packed it in, even though there was plenty of fuel left. So I had to spend one of those dollars to replace it, then smiled at the irony when I shortly afterwards found a very new-looking lighter as well. Since no one did make the beverage offer, I dug into my coin bag and got myself a bottle of Colt in the late afternoon.

A pleasant enough day. As I told a friend, one of those ordinary days the Steppenwolf so hated, but then the wolf in me is still hibernating, hasn't realized somehow that it's Aries with Venus and Mercury passing through.

from Tale 490:

In the game, there are specific quests one can do, accumulating "quest points" for each completed one. The major prize for the effort is a special sword which the Sleeptalker badly wants. He said jokingly over the beer that I could have his body in exchange for one of those swords. It's a deal, I told him, but I get you first, am not giving you the sword until afterwards. I thought it was just one of his usual flirtatious gambits but he must have been pondering it further because as we opened the second bottle, he said, "okay, you can have it."

Tender, sweet, passionate, the birthday gift of my fantasies, a dream come true under that beautiful moon. Nectar of the gods.

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from Tale755:

There is nothing special about threescore and one years and there was nothing special about the day marking its completion. I did treat myself with two more of Father Greeley's splendid novels and indulged in four of those forty-ounce bottles of brew, spread from late morning to early evening. I played in Seventh Circle for several hours, giving Rubella the Mage a break when she reached level 85 and starting a new character, Gabriella the Druid. As always when starting a new character, I get too ambitious too quickly so she had a rockier time getting to level 10 than she should have but then things got easier. Between that fun and Greeley's Angels of September, the brew and a welcome dry lunchtime in the secluded grove, it was a pleasant day, no more, but then who could ask for it?

I switched to the West Side bench, hoping the back of the bench would provide at least a little windbreak. A little is about it, too. The disadvantage of that side of the sleeping sanctuary is that the bench is near a corner favored by night (or predawn) fishers who often wake me as they pound supports for their rods into the ground. Fortunately, they are otherwise quiet, unlike the walking motormouths. Friday night there was even a night snorkeler using that corner as his launching pad. I wonder what he thought if he swam under my floating tarp.

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from Tale917:

Friday, The Birthday, the New Moon. Jonathan Cainer thought that moon held all kinds of promise. Maybe if I hadn't so firmly resisted temptation all weekend some of what Cainer suggested might have happened. Regret it if you don't do it, regret it if you do. Kierkegaard, again. A quintessential quandry. No, I don't regret what might have been a missed opportunity, perhaps mostly because I don't think anything would have been that much different than it was in the April Follies, just an encore. But I really get no great credit for "resisting temptation", either. If Okinawa had come looking for me, resistance would have crumbled.

I admire him for not being a hustler while at the same time wish a little that he was.

The day itself was nothing extraordinary, pretty much the same routine. A morning visit to campus followed by a trip to the State Library, then to check the mailbox. Birthday melons from heaven. I paced back and forth for awhile, bought a beer and cigarettes and tried to make up my mind: did I go in search of Okinawa or refrain? I drank the beer, sat in the beach park, and conducted the inner debate, one side advocating a party while strongly suspecting I wouldn't get what I wanted, the other suggesting how much more sensible it would be to ease my way through the rest of this month, to enjoy the escape from what had promised to be two weeks of empty pockets.

Tanioka arrived, then the Sleeptalker. Tanioka sent the Sleeptalker to buy a round of beer for us. He teased about Okinawa, the Sleeptalker was surly on the subject. Another round of beer in honor of the occasion got me close enough to being drunk that I was no longer certain I wanted to look for Okinawa, a resistance strategy I followed for the rest of the weekend. And by then the Sleeptalker was helping, getting closer and closer to his Ugly Drunk act. It's so tempting lately to just tell him to stop being a fucking brat, not that it would do any good. Fuel on the flames. So I got up to leave. Tanioka said no, let's go look for Okinawa. If the Sleeptalker hadn't been there, I would have yielded but I had no intention of filling the glass pipe and sharing it with him in Ugly Drunk mode. So I started walking out to Magic Island, then changed my mind and went to the Black Hole.

So much for Birthday 2002.

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the tales