• J Mess

DEAR JOHN

Birthdays, like everything in the time of corona, are bonkers.


Every year for holidays like birthdays, Rosh Hashonah or Passover, my husband would send flowers to his parents house in Maine. As I'm sure many of us have done over the years, he's dictated the card to the florist over the phone. When we'd arrive to celebrate at the house, we'd all discuss and fawn over the beautiful arrangement, and then they'd show us the card. Without fail, every time, and this happened more times than I can count, I'd scroll through the list of all of the givers names: my husband's brother, his wife, their kids, my husband, our kids, our cat, and me. Jeff. Every damn time. Jeff. We'd have a good laugh about it, until the next time it happened and then the next. And I'd wonder if at that point my husband was doing it on purpose, otherwise why couldn't he have adjusted to Jessica or at least tried to enunciate a little better.


This year my Mother's Day card from our local florist was barely in discernible English and Josh had to translate what he'd intended it to say. But at least they got my name right.

These days Josh goes to the supermarket once a week, at the crack of dawn immediately following the senior hours. It's the only time any of us go out into the world. The men-folk hunt and gather for the family and the women tend to the children. So when his birthday was looming, I asked him if he'd mind just picking out his own cake at the supermarket when he went that week. It was the easiest thing to do. He agreed and didn't seem to care. We're living in a weird time and it's hard to stand on ceremonies during a plague. So off he went to get food and cake.


When he came back, he had a cute little cake that said Happy Birthday Josh. However apparently the bakery lady had been somewhat of a chatty Kathy, and when he asked her to put a name on the cake, she asked who the cake was for. Awkward. Can you put Josh on it? Aw, is that your son? No it's actually me. Is how I imagine that amazing conversation going. Then probably a hilarious segue weigh into how his psycho wife doesn't leave the house so he had to get his own birthday cake. Followed by him standing there waiting for her to frost his own name on it and feeling stupid.


When she returned, she showed him her masterpiece. Except it said Happy Birthday John. Now my poor husband had to tell this lady that she'd made a mistake and that wasn't his name or face bringing home a cake that had the wrong name on it and explaining to me why he couldn't even get his own birthday cake correctly. It actually crossed his mind to spare this poor woman and just take the cake, because that is who he is, and also it's a pandemic so we can cut people some slack. But she insisted she'd redo it because she didn't want me to be upset. As she futilely tried to wipe off the h and n, while making a giant mess and ended up having to start again on a new cake.


Regardless at least he got his birthday cake with his name on it, even if he had to obtain it himself. I too once had a birthday cake with my name on it. However Nathan dropped it out of the freezer onto the floor so it used to say Happy Birthday Jess but it might as well have said Jeff because it ended up literally saying nothing...

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