Birthday Party. By Sandy Lofy
Rice Krispie Treats & Shirley Temples
By Sandy Lofy
Happy birthday, W!, were the first words out of my mouth on Friday. I brought lunch to the park for the peeps (our houseless friends). W was sitting on the bench with his companion dog Halie. I usually do not serve at the park on Fridays, but October 11 was a special day. It was my friend W’s birthday and he was turning 60. I already knew that one of Walter’s favorite foods was Rice Krispy treats. I asked him earlier in the week what he would like to have for his birthday. He mentioned that he would like his favorite plus Shirley temples. Oh, and he prefaced his favorite treat with, “I want an entire brick to myself”, meaning he wasn’t going to share.
I wonder how many of our houseless friends have birthdays that come and go. Unnoticed because no one pays attention, no one remembers, or no one cares. Aren’t birthdays, and holidays supposed to be celebrated, remembered? My birthday was last month and although it wasn’t the best day for me because of an unfortunate situation, friends and family gave me cards. I received many texts, Facebook posts and phone calls wishing me happy birthday. I don’t think W has any family, and though I know he has friends, I wasn’t sure that any of them knew his birthday.
I have celebrated other peeps’ birthdays before, but this one would be the first without a space. I’m not sure why W’s meant so much to me, but I knew I wouldn’t disappoint him without a festivity attached to the day. Interacting with our peeps without a building now, has its challenges. For example, I must plan every fricking detail. If I’m going to provide the same services (food, clothing, toiletries, rides to appointments, etc.) that we did inside, now meeting peeps where they are, I need to be super organized, not to mention planning birthday surprises.
October 11 was a great day to celebrate a birthday in the park. The sun was in the sky, and it was even a tad warm for October as some of us shed our coats to let the sunshine beat down on our faces. W was excited because he knew that he was going to be gifted with treats and surprises. Me and the peeps gathered around the picnic table as I began to set the table with hot chocolate, snacks and lunch. First, out came the Rice Krispy treats. I must admit that I burnt the first set because if one keeps butter and the fluffy marshmallows cooking too long, well, the mixture turns dark brown. It still sets up after you add the Rice Krispies, but instead of getting that rich and gooey taste as you bite into it, a consistency much like a cement block hardens and you could break a tooth. The second batch turned out perfectly, if I don’t say so myself. As I brought out the good “brick” of treats, W scooped it out of my hands so quickly before I even realized what he was doing. He wasn’t sharing his treats and he was going to make sure no one else was going to have them as he tucked them into his plastic tote on his walker.
As everyone was diving into lunch, I began making Shirley Temples….ginger ale, grenadine and of course, maraschino cherries to top it off. I never did find out why W liked this particular drink so much, but the joke of the hour was, “Sandy, do you have any vodka to add”? Before we all moved out from the picnic table, someone yelled that we needed to sing happy birthday to W. What a sweet, calming rendition of the song sung by mostly men of varied ages, and a few high soprano women. We continued to laugh throughout the afternoon, and D pulled out his banjo and entertained us with his lively playing. P all the sudden brought out his trombone. Now that was a surprise. We all giggled over that amazement.
Birthdays come and go, but each one of us should always have the opportunity to have our birthday remembered by someone. The smile is priceless. The joy to know that you are so lucky to have someone born and have him cross your path means that I have another friend to enjoy ooey gooey treats and a refreshing beverage [maybe with a little vodka next time]!