We celebrated my 33rd birthday in Prospect Park over the weekend. I think it was originally planned as a surprise, however in the morning, after returning from walking Nico I caught my roommates leaving the apartment with a picnic blanket and a bag of charcoal. On top of that, my friend Gino was supposed to take me out for brunch at noon, but he ended up being two-and-a-half hours late and ultimately directed me to meet him at the top of the park. A surprise party or not, I greatly appreciated the thought of my dearest friends coming all together and organizing something just for me — personally, it’s weird and wholly unnecessary, and the sheer sentiment and idea makes me feel special.
It was a perfect day to celebrate my birthday in the park: it was a little drizzly that morning, but the skies had cleared by noon, and it was so pleasantly warm that the grass had dried. My roommates, Morgan and Brian, picked a perfect spot by the Picnic House with an open grill and a few tables. Gino, Morgan, and Brian manned the barbecue as my friends Amanda and Rustine set up bocce ball. Gino’s girlfriend, Monica, just smoked cigarettes. On top of the barbecue, games, and eventual ice cream cake, Gino and Monica managed to ask their friend Shahrouz to bring Bullet, their dog they gave to Shahrouz after they moved into a no-pet condo. Needless to say, both my dog Nico and Bullet remembered each other and played in the grass just like old times.
Alex and Michael stopped by with traditional Filipino pork skewers (really, just meat marinated in soy sauce and Sprite), and they also gave me a birthday card and a giant lollipop — which is a change, considering Alex has always given me shitty, candy-flavored vodka on subsequent birthdays. Even George and Diana (who I haven’t seen since Christmas) managed to come with their 7-month-old baby, Ruby Estelle. By the way, Ruby was so fascinated by Nico, she laughed every time my dog did something, like laugh or breathe.
As nightfall approached we all went back to our respective ways home. My roommates and I rested for an hour or so and then headed out to Covenhoven, a bar a few blocks from our apartment. We met up with Kris (who also had come to the park), his girlfriend Ally, Mark, Patrick, and his lady friend. We each drank a few beers till close, and headed home.
Back in my apartment, my roommates and I watched Beyonce’s “Lemonade” (holy fuck, Bey, you okay?) until I passed out on the couch with a full whiskey in my hand.
The next day I woke up bright and early, and I took Nico to the dog groomer. It took about an hour or so to have her nails done like a middle-aged woman and a bath she desperately needed. I preoccupied myself by sitting at the plaza of the Brooklyn Museum, sipping coffee and watching inattentive parents let their toddlers run in the fountain and accost passerby. After my dog was done with the groomers, I noticed she was fluffier from the blowout they gave her. Sure, the groomers at Pooch Purrfect brushed at least 10 pounds of winter fur from her, but Nico looked like she gained 15 from sheer blown-dry volume. I totally recommend them.
After retrieving my puffball of a mutt, I met up with Morgan and went to Electric Anvil Tattoo for a consultation. It’s been a habit that every birthday I get a new tattoo, and Electric Anvil comes highly recommended by Patrick, a tattoo connoisseur who said the store was founded by former artists from the acclaimed Three Kings tattoo shop. I scheduled something for next week: a fox — my spirit animal — running with a dagger in its mouth.
Later that night was the Game of Thrones premiere, and my friends Bridget and Diana came over. I ordered pizza, and we watched Jon Snow not get resurrected and Melisandre’s gratuitous nude shots transform from a non-plot point to a significant one.
On Monday, my actual birthday, my co-workers took me to Rosa Mexicano, a Mexican restaurant located near my office in Columbus Circle. The moderately high prices coupled with the fact that our server fucked up a few orders made me feel guilty that my office mates would spend any amount on my birthday, but they deflected any payment from me. I think I owe each of them diamond rings when their birthdays come.
After work, I met up with Gino and Monica at King Tai, a nice cocktail bar near my apartment in Crown Heights that looked like Miami exploded in it. We had a few martinis, I was given a few mylar balloons that I’ll end up using in a Nico Video, and we headed off to Cent’Anni for a wonderful pasta dinner. Of course, as with lunch earlier, my friends paid for the meal and refused to take any money from me. I think I’ll slip a 20 dollar bill into Gino’s couch cushions next time I’m over at their place.
All in all, I had a great 33rd Birthday. I was expecting to be dead by this age or at least ravaged by disease, but my friends and family (and dog) made me feel more special and appreciated than I ever imagined. I’m grateful to have such good people (and canines) in my life, and I want them to all know that I’d never take for granted the relationship I have with them. Cheers!