Well, the birthday was good, even if it was the smallest in years, and, interestingly, the least stressful it has been in years.
Birthdays, you see, stress me out. I have never really figured out why, but it must have something to do with the twin fears of aging and death. Or maybe just the sick feeling in the pit of my stomach telling me my best days are behind me and I wasted them all.
Er. Uh. Anyway.
So, I usually try to make a big deal out of them and they usually end up badly. By badly, I mean fighting, arguments, break-ups, tears, booze, tits, broken glass on the street, gutters, irresponsible driving, costumes, glitter, foreign robes and hand-made blankets. And that was just last year.
This year, however, I was a little side-tracked and maybe that helped. Through whatever source of fate, either benign or, well, the other, we had to be pressed, dressed, and ready to go to my father-in-law’s grave yesterday for the unveiling of the, for lack of a better translation, headstone. The monk came by and blessed the crypt by throwing rice and sake and fish flakes into the four corners of the grave and chanting over lit incense.
(I actually do not know what the best translation of hakka is. It is usually translated as “grave” but there is no body in a Japanese cemetary. After the body is cremated, the bones are placed in a ceramic container in the ground, covered over by an elobarte marble marker, shaped a little like an obelisk, on a base stand. The base contains a couple of vases for flowers, a small tray for offerings of sake and mochi, and a dish for lighting incense, while the tower portion has the deceased name written on it.)
It was a fairly sober ceremony, but over quickly and with a minimum of fuss and drama which came as a relief as neither of us had had any idea what to expect and Saturday night was a bit tense as we both prepared for the worst, by which I mean, grieving relatives falling about the place mucking everything up.
Once the ceremony was done and over with we drove about giving cash “gifts” to the various monks and service people involved with the process and then headed out to an organic, all-you-can-eat buffet for a birthday lunck with my mother-in-law.
We all ate too much, of course, and decided to put off the birthday cake until later in the day.
If at all possible, I like to get my chubby little hands on a Baskin-Robbins ice cream cake for my birthdays and my wife is very considerate in this regard. This year, she had gotten a dark chocolate cake with a sponge cake base, chocolate ice cream and a nice mocha frosting for me. I am still on the sugar high as I write this.
We closed out the day by M getting me what I really always want for any birthday, a gadget that is too expensive and too useless for me to ever justify buying it for myself. In this case, she got me a Nintendo DS Lite and Starfox Command, which I have been playing at every available opportunity ever since, and which I am going to log off and go do some more of, right now.
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