When is your birthday? Does anyone else (famous and/or in your own life) share it?
My birthday is December 26th – Baby Jesus is pretty tough competition for a non-divine little kid, so birthdays were kind of a nothingburger for me as I was growing up. I don’t share my birthday with any friends or family member, but a quick Googling of December 26th found a list including the famous (Emperor Frederick II; Mao Zedong), the funny (Steve Allen, Allan King, David Sedaris) and the alarming (Phil Spector).
2. Do you prefer a big party or an intimate celebration for the chosen few?
Definitely the latter.
3. Describe your most memorable birthday(s)--good, bad, or both.
My Auntie M, now in a nursing home, was always concerned that I never had an opportunity for a “real” birthday party, so each December 26th she faithfully invited my parents and me to her home for cake and ice cream. One year she and my uncle L even made homemade vanilla ice cream for me, using cream from their own cows, a process I found fascinating. This year’s sushi birthday was pretty swell too.
One of the worst birthday parties I’ve ever attended was not mine. It was a “croning party” for a woman who’d just turned 50. The intent was for an over-30 chick party/crunchy-granola middle-aged-female empowerment celebration at the rustic home of some mutual friends. What happened was that one party-goer, for unfathomable reasons, brought along her two-year-old son, so that the event soon degenerated into a group babysitting session – putting up with his constant screeching, repeatedly pulling him away from the bonfire and out of the forest, dealing with his poop and pee issues and generally ignoring the guest of honor, who wound up rather sadly hovering in the background of her own party. My advice to anyone with a child or grandchild under the age of five: If you’re invited to a howling-at-the-moon hoopdeedoo primarily for the perimenopausal, and the host says, “Oh, yes, and little Damien is invited too” – she doesn’t really mean it.
4. What is your favorite cake and ice cream? (Bonus points if you share the cake recipe). Or would you rather have a different treat altogether?
Strangely enough for someone who likes sweets in general and chocolate in particular, now that I’m an adult I don’t care that much for cake, even chocolate cake. If I am offered cake, I tend to prefer white cake, with the subtle vanilla-almond taste thing going on. My favorite ice cream is Ben and Jerry’s Phish Food, which I would never adulterate with cake of any kind. Actually, a real birthday treat for me involves protein and vegetables, with any ice cream clearly subordinate to the main course, and preferably served several hours afterward; that’s just the way I roll.
5. Surprise parties: love 'em or hate 'em?
I’ve never really had one, but I’m inclined to think the latter. I’ve had fun being a co-conspirator in a number of surprise parties, though; maybe for most people there’s more enjoyment to be had at that end of the enterprise.
Bonus: Describe your ideal birthday--the sky's the limit.An intimate dinner with good food and good wine – which doesn’t necessarily mean “expensive” or “in a restaurant” or “involving lots of cooking fuss” – perhaps accompanied by some outing or activity that I enjoy.