My hairdo was a big hit with everybody except me. I think they were just reacting to the brightness of the re- blonding.
That’s a lot more hair than I expected to walk away with. The whole point was that the load of my mane would be thinned out and lightened for the summer. This was a bad week to test out a new hairdo because summer’s high temperatures and oppressive humidity fell on us with a sudden thud and I spent a lot of time with an uncooperative crown poof and long shaggy fringe plastered wet against the back of my neck. During the worst of it I made a little pony tail, Paul Revere-style.
On my birthday, Sami and I went for burgers and beer on the Irish Riviera. The real party happened Saturday morning when we all met for Mexican Breakfast at 8:30 am.
[SIDEBAR: When my mother worked in the dress factory, the custom was to give out treats to others when it was your birthday, something like candy bars or bags of gum drops. My treat to my family was that I did not ask them to meet at 6:00 am.]
Party Plan A was a sea food barbecue but since the temps were so high and the removal of the trees would make a barbecue unbearable for the barbecue-er, we moved to Plan B: Mexican Breakfast and then home for birthday pie. When we were almost finished with our food, I was struck with a great idea: let’s all drive out to the scenic overlook at Mount Mitchill and gaze upon the beautiful scenery. I introduced the idea to give it time to sink in, and then conducted a family election1 for or against my proposal.
If only I was quick enough to pull out my phone and video tape my bleary-eyed family, unenthusiastic but still doing their best to please me. I started out by saying there was no pressure, it was just a thought but who wants to go to Mt Mitchill? Show of hands? Imagine if you will an election that could have taken place in any banana republic or other restrictive regime where the voters knew exactly how they were expected to vote: a comically slow rise of forearms connected to limply hanging hands and then the even slower straightening of those hands into upright position. Whatever, snoozers – I got the votes2.
It might have started out as low enthusiasm but the scenery worked its magic and there was an actual outcry to continue on to a drive around Sandy Hook (the barrier spit, not the other one.) It’s not just a beach, it’s contains:
- a national recreation park
- a county school for marine education
- the oldest lighthouse in the US
- an active Coast Guard station
- a decommissioned military base, now a national historic landmark
- Officer’s Row3
We all enjoyed looking at concrete battery mounts and disabled Nike missals – and guess what? They were conducting Missal Tours! Too bad it was so hot that the idea of leaving the air conditioned comfort of my car did not appeal. Also, turkey buzzards had built nests on the batteries and were swooping down low in a very territory-protecting manner.
Then back home for lemon meringue pie and presents. All in all, it was a fabulous birthday.
1 We are totally NOT this kind of family at all which is what makes this so amusing.
2 Note to self: take a break from reading about master political manipulators for a while.
3 Most photos of Officer’s Row are from the front in beautiful sunny summer but this might be my favorite photo of all, from the back looking out over Raritan Bay shrouded in fog:
Before I saw this picture, I used to only think how fabulous it must have been to be housed in one of these 18 buildings, my house reflecting the rank and importance of my husband ( no letters please, feminists – I’m in the WWII mindset here). Military housing with a million dollar view and a personal private beach. But when I saw this the isolation, the fear and the uncertainty- to say nothing of the vagaries of the wind and weather – hit me like a tank. Ft Hancock was established to defend New York Harbor and it did from the mid-1890s right up through the Cold War. My prestigious husband would have been pretty preoccupied with monitoring the sea and skies for enemy attack.
All right fine here’s a photo from the front: