While San Geraldo and I were making our travel plans, one of my cousins happened to phone my mother to tell her she was having a small party for her husband’s 80th birthday. My cousin is much, much, much younger than her husband. (She didn’t tell me to say that.) This is the second marriage for both, but they’ve been together a very long time.
|IT’S AMAZING HOW MUCH HEAT (AND SMOKE) 81 CANDLES EMIT.|
Years ago, when her husband’s son gave them their first grandchild, my cousin teasingly asked, “So, old man, how does it feel to be a grandfather?” His tart response: “I’ve got a better question. How does it feel to be sleeping with one?”
|THE BIRTHDAY BOY IS A RETIRED UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR. HOT AIR TO SPARE?
HE’S FLANKED BY MY COUSIN, ONE OF HER AMAZING GRANDDAUGHTERS, AND HER SON-IN-LAW.
There were actually two birthdays being celebrated. My first cousin twice removed turned 13. I grew up with the birthday tradition that you always had one candle on the cake for every year of your age and then an additional one for good luck. I thought everyone had this tradition until I met San Geraldo. They didn’t get any extras in the frugal Midwest. What’s your tradition?
|THE BIRTHDAY GIRL, MY COUSIN TWICE REMOVED. GRACIOUSLY AWAITING HER TURN.
13 CANDLES PLUS ONE FOR GOOD LUCK.
|A VERY CONTENT DOWAGER DUCHESS.|
My cousin wasn’t making a big deal of the party, really, just her husband’s family at first. But she then decided to include her daughter and family, and her sister (my cousin, obviously, too) and brother-in-law. She knew we were planning a visit and, if it coincided with the party, she said she would love if we could be there. So, we arranged to be in the States at the right time and we drove from Brooklyn to New Jersey on Saturday.
|HEADING BACK FROM NEW JERSEY WITH SAN GERALDO BEHIND THE WHEEL.
NEW YORK’S (DOWNTOWN) SKYLINE IN BACKGROUND.
The party was an absolute pleasure. Both cakes were delicious. The kids were sweethearts. The Dowager Duchess was elated. And San Geraldo even had a half-hour siesta.
|VERRAZANO-NARROWS BRIDGE, LOOKING BACK TO STATEN ISLAND.|
As we crossed the Verrazano Bridge from Staten Island on our return to Brooklyn, I thought back to when the bridge first opened in 1964. Before that, we could only get to Staten Island (one of the five boroughs of New York City) by ferry. The bridge goes over the “narrows” heading into New York Harbor, so it’s officially the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. It was the world’s longest suspension bridge until 1981. I think it has since dropped to number 8. There are spectacular views of the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline, but I couldn’t get San Geraldo to pull over for pictures. (Something about it being against the law… or dangerous, I think. Party pooper.)
The bridge was named for Italian explorer Giovanni de Verrazano who is said to have “discovered” New York Harbor in 1524. (Four years later, he was eaten by cannibals on an island south of Jamaica.) My sister Dale initially thought the bridge was called the Verraznarrows Bridge. The name does flow off the tongue. Well, kind of.
|YES, IT WOULD BE NICE IF THE ITEMS IN THE MIRROR WERE CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR.|