Very early in the morning on Labor Day 1970 in Okinawa, Japan, Velma Roberson woke up and alerted her husband, Karl, that their third (and who turned out to be last) baby was coming. Rushing to the hospital, they saw the MPs (military police) and stopped to ask them for an escort to the hospital.
Sirens blaring, they arrived at the military hospital in record time where nurses waited with a wheelchair for Velma. About 30 minutes later at 5:56 AM, Velma birthed Teresa Yvonne, three days before her own 30th birthday.
And the adventure continues!
Saturday: Dinner & A Play
My mother sent me a small package with a long black dress and a fancy colorful top a few days before my 45th birthday. Wonderful! Now I didn’t have to decide what to wear for two out of three days of my long weekend birthday celebration. Of course, I wore my tiara all three days. On the first night of celebration, I invited friends to meet me at a small theatre/bar complex, which rented space to a most delicious Italian food trailer. Don’t let the paper plate and plastic cutlery fool you: this food was ridiculous! I braved the “coddled” egg. The creaminess of a raw egg made risking salmonella worth it. Two friends met for dinner and of all things we could have talked about during this festive occasion, I chose to regale them with some factoids I learned from Orlando Patterson’s Slavery and Social Death. Perhaps the greatest unknown fact to me was that the British carried over 15,000 American slaves back with them when they lost the revolution since they’d promised them freedom for fighting with the red coats. Another friend showed up, but only for the one-women show. Even though she’d missed dinner, she bought me a second goblet of Malbec. I’m not sure if the venue always pour that much or we were fortunate to have a heavy-handed bartender that particular night, but I had no complaints! We waited after the show, to congratulate the one-woman performer herself, who’d blown us all away. Granted, she’s the three time national female slam poet. I informed my friends this would be the last time we’d be lucky to see her perform for a mere $10.
Of course, I had to take a picture with the artist herself. I want the world to know I knew her before they did! I congratulated her for much deserved success. It’s challenging enough to live through what she had and another thing to invite family, friends and strangers in to witness a poetic summary of it.
Sunday: Open Mic Night
Several of my poet friends participate in a Sunday open mic from 7:30 to 10 PM. One friend in particular, carries a small bag of reading glasses. I told him I was officially ready for my first pair of “cheater readers,” as my latest eye doctor called them.Although both pairs made the print world easier to read, I thought these were less birth control looking than the other pair. The best part was these fit comfortably over my regular glasses when my eyes tire at home.
I certainly didn’t need corrective lenses to see this gorgeous meat trio pizza and glass of Malbec. Yet another Italian dish for the second celebration of my birthday.
This young singer dedicated a Beyonce song to me. Then another poet friend and the open mic hosts led the room in singing “Happy Birthday” to me. The hilarious part came when only 5 people knew my name. The hosts had been referring to me as “Birthday Princess” the whole time up to that point. Another friend split the infamous “ying-yang” cake with me, which was a chocolate-rich and creamy dessert one should only eat once a year. Wearing my princess tiara and mother-gifted girlie top, I read one of my infamous classics: “How Men Blow Fellatio.”
Afterwards, I back led another poet through a slow dance while a saxophonist played.
Monday: Detox & Retox
I only had three brave friends who said they’d detox with me on Labor Day at the free 10 AM bikram yoga class prior to brunch. Merely one friend had arrived by the time we posed with the instructor for a “before” picture.However, everyone was present for the “after” picture.
Joined by two more friends, a fabulous all-you-care-to eat buffet and the most impressive collection of tequilas, we had a terrific time retoxing.We started with a mimosa, two of which, came with our buffet. I’d eaten brunch here several times before, but I’d never known there was an option of three fruity flavors: orange, cranberry and pineapple. I started out with pineapple and followed up with cranberry. One friend, who arrived by bus so she could fully enjoy the whole retox experience, ordered a tequila flight. I’d saved a tiny bit of room for dessert: a churro, ice cream and cherry cobbler.After dessert, our server asked me if I liked “sweet” and “chocolate.” Of course I answered “yes” to both questions. Moments later, she brought out a chocolate infused tequila. At that point, my friends sang “Happy Birthday.”
One friend followed up with Stevie Wonder’s version of “Happy Birthday;” so I chair danced to it.
Finally, I got to sip my drink. That’s right, sip! I’d lived in Mexico for three years and never once saw a Mexican shoot tequila. They sipped and enjoyed their drink like cultured people. (I love how the guy in the background does not look the least impressed.)
I’d written this message on my white board, alerting my Adult Basic Education students to the fact that school was closed on Monday. Although most people assumed Labor Day had given us the long weekend, my students were privy to the real deal. When I returned to school on Tuesday, I had a post birthday wish. As much as I love having a day off, the rest of the week was thrown off. Thank goodness the weekend wasn’t too far away.