the day started innocently enough.

a few minutes before seven, in the warm bed. oblivion. then a small beaming face barreling in from the darkness, arms laden with stuffed animals. behind him, the pitter patter of smaller feet, a smaller face, a smaller armload of companions. a bed party.

presents opened. a giant coffee mug with skull and crossbones: pirate pottery for a full-grown birthday boy. i smiled blearily at the man floundering under the loud and cheerful tornado of our children.

happy birthday, you.

then, the first mistake. i got out of bed.

i went downstairs to make him coffee for his new mug. a man who roasts his own coffee and gets a giant coffee mug specially selected by his offspring as his main birthday present should have coffee on the morning of his birthday. especially in November, on the first day of snow.

i pulled the grinder forward from its nest at the back of the counter. i cleaned the French press, placed it on an angle at the ready. then i remembered the bacon.

for me, remembering the bacon is always a mistake.

(the last time i cooked bacon, i was about eleven. it was Mother’s Day and i was up early looking to make my mama some breakfast in bed. i remembered some bacon at the back of the fridge: i may have nibbled some slightly raw strips while i cooked. then when i traipsed triumphally to my mother’s bedside, plate in hand, she looked at me in surprise and asked, where’d you buy the bacon? turned out she’d last bought bacon at Christmas. EW.  i’d remembered a relic. so yeh, bacon. bad luck.)

oh hindsight.

morning light was just beginning to brighten the windows, and i turned from the counter, feeling ridiculously pleased with myself for being all morning-person-like, up making bacon and coffee. i grabbed a frying pan from the rack overhead, turned on the burner, opened the fridge. i was admiring the smooth arc of my own movements when i noted a still smoother arc out the corner of my eye. cat. leaping onto the counter.

where the glass French press sat perched precariously against the…



the French press made its own rather elegant arc as it sailed towards the floor. my body moved instinctively in towards it, then out again as the SMASH shot shards into the air and sent the cat sailing off the counter in a yowling arc far more impressive than any of the others.

and there i stood, in slippers, in a pile of glass, when Dave came downstairs.

happy birthday, i squeaked to the coffee-lover as i swept up the remains of his coffee press.

now, it may be the maturity that comes with birthdays, or it may just be the way he was brought up, but Dave was unfazed. he cocked his head, taking in the situation. then, like Winston Churchill’s proverbial optimist, seeing opportunity in every difficulty, he dug through the cupboard to find a funky dripper doodad he’d bought and forgotten to try. hey look! he said, enthusiastically. this part even works on thermoses!

by the time i had the floor safe and the bacon successfully burnt – mistake #3 – there was coffee in the carafe AND in the thermos. then he then went to the store and bought himself the biggest Bodum i have ever laid eyes on.

i decided at this point to cut my losses and forget about trying to bake him a cake. rather, i went downtown to the tiny little German cafe where i told sympathetic German baker my story about the coffee and the French press and the bacon and he took pity upon me and sold me an entire fresh German vanilla roll, made mostly of whipping cream.

and i thought, this is perfect.

in contrast to other years, especially, absolutely perfect.

so there. happy birthday, Dave. you’re a fine example of how to handle the smaller tragedies of life. next year, for your birthday, i may skip the bacon, but i’ll see if i can’t break something else that you’ve been hankering to replace.

i hope it’s not your funky pirate mug.