After His Birthday
Probably a Year Ago
I had a great birthday.
No one wants to hear that.
I don’t think anyone wants to hear that I had a terrible birthday, although dramatically it would be interesting.
It was very… it was… I… my heart was filled with joy.
I don’t know why I’m apologizing for having a heart filled with joy.
[Pause. Lip smack.]
What really brought it home is Anastasia made three pies. We were having so many people over. I wanted pie. Not a lot of people, but eleven? Ten? Counting us, so. Uh…
[Scratching. Chair creaking.]
Like n—n—n—nine people came over, I guess.
So you wanna have more than one pie. So Anastasia spent all day long baking pies. And just the effort! It was love. It was a labor of love. Uh, the—rolling out the dough, and she was covered with flour, and I stood there and I thought… she’s grating, grating white cheddar to put in a crust for an apple pie, and… that was my favorite.
[Sniff. Throat noise.]
It was lovely!
What’s… wrong with that?
All my regrets or, uhm…
Fears were vanquished. By pie.
Early on there were bad omens. Anastasia accidentally touched my foot with a broom. That’s one of the most… that’s one of the worst bad luck omens. Also she gave me socks with a picture—with, uh, devils on them. Which… it was funny, because we both share a certain fear of the devil that’s left over from our upbringings…
So it was funny. You know what? It was, uh… uh… maybe it was… [pause] uh… what’s that? Uh…
Talismanic, you know.
I’m trampling the devil underfoot! I suppose. Although he’s up on my ankles.
[Laughter. Throat clearing. Sniff.]
But, uh, everything was just terrific, I thought.
That’s not interesting!
I pu—I kept tweeting pictures of pies. That’s right! I felt happy.
Dirk called, which was nice.
You know, I’m really sad because he quit. He quit the job with Maisie, and now… I’ve seen him every—I’ve seen him every week, three times a week, you know, apart from short… a short hiatus here and there. Uh… for five years! Between the two shows we’ve worked on together. And although he’s in Los Angeles and I’m here in Mississippi, I’ve seen him more than I see some people who… live here in town. I’ve seen him more than my family members. For five years. On a computer screen, but still. And now I’m just not gonna see Dirk anymore.
So that makes me sad.
I think maybe he put a down payment on a house? In Vermont? He seems serious about moving back to Vermont. I guess he’s gonna—he’s got maple trees! Maple trees on his property, and, uh… I don’t know how serious he is about [laughter] manufacturing maple syrup, but… uh… he says—I don’t—who knows? You know, how serious that thought is. But! He’s the right age, I guess, to have a midlife crisis. And doesn’t making maple syrup seem like a… I, I, wouldn’t you think that every… every single company [short laugh] that makes, you know, artisanal maple syrup is the result of a midlife crisis?
There was a lot of… there was a lot of fun. A lot of birthday fun to report.
I guess I’m past the age for a midlife crisis.
Oh! Siobhan gave me a… a lighter.
I wrote a book about cigarette lighters and people, once in a while, still give me…
You know, when you write a book…
I don’t know, I’ll speak for myself. You lose interest in whatever the subject is, I think, unless you’re that Robert Caro and you—you’re—you spent your whole life thinking about… LBJ. But…
By the time the book comes out you’ve moved on to something else. I don’t know, that’s my experience. And so lighters, I’m not sure I’m that interested in them anymore, but I have this [throat clearing]… Siobhan gave me this incredible… big… bulky… lighter with a… a… uhhhhh… embossed with a… rrrrr… uhhh… kind of a copy of, of Rembrandt’s “Night Watch,” and, uhh… and I didn’t realize until this morning that… I was pokin’ around in the box… it had tissue paper in it and what I thought was a scrap of cardboard, but it’s a postcard that has a story of—this is her grandfather’s lighter. A very fascinating postcard! Just jam-packed—she really gets a lot of… information on a… postcard, including the fact that her grandfather committed suicide by filling the… garage with “CO2,” as she puts it, because the New York Times exposed him as a slumlord! Uh…
And the… the… tragic ending, squeezed on there at the bottom of the… at the very bottom where there’s no more space to write, beneath the… uh… postcard company’s boilerplate.
Gosh, there were a lot of interesting and wonderful things I wanted to talk about…
But the pie seems to have eclipsed them all.
You don’t know! I mean I was naïve about the amount of work it would take to make three pies.
Mirabeau brought us a [laughter] box of vegetables, which was a funny present, but at the same time it was great! Uhhhhhh… big old, a big old branch… [laughter] I know it’s not a branch. What would you call it? It’s much bigger than a sprig… of rosemary. A large… uh… a towering rosemary… uh… I’m gonna call it a branch, ‘cause it looks almost like a branch. Very fragrant. I got up this morning and smelled it and felt good. Uh… potatoes. Uh… beautiful tomatoes. Some nice bell peppers, and… uh…
He was, he was good, and… feelin’ fine.
Liv’s out of town doing research for her novel, interviewing a man who paints angels on ceilings.
This way to the next episode.
Jack Pendarvis has written five books. He won two Emmys for his work on the TV show Adventure Time. During a period of light employment, he spoke into a digital recorder whenever the mood struck him and transcribed the results, accumulating the two thousand pages from which this column has been extracted.