People usually celebrate birthdays by lavishing presents on a given celebrant, then singing off key and eating wax-spotted cake. As far as presents go, whether it's a T-shirt, or Nutella, or some home-made coupons that read "5 minutes of free back massage, but only five minutes", it's been my experience that the best kinds of gifts are the ones that come from the people you love, which remind you (in the best way) of how lost you would be without them.
The next best, however, come from random ladies who shop at Albertsons and don't know squat about you.
It was my eighteenth birthday, and I was going in to work. Being the baby
of the family there, and thus the easiest employee to tease, I was often
subjected to good-natured joking about my age. This led to my
shiny-bright newest age being an exaggeratedly big deal to all of us.The sun was warm, and my heart was happy as I crossed the parking lot,
stepped in through the glass door and went to the entrance of the
kitchen. I was met with uproarious jubilation and cheering, followed by
Gary telling me he'd decided I was now old enough to roll the butter knives
with the rest of the silverware. I grinned and gave jab for jab as I
went to grab an apron.
"Any chance you brought those bananas?"
Shoot! No, I completely forgot actually. Sorry, I guess I'll just
have to figure out how to make it myself sometime."
Diane poked me, and rolled her eyes.
"Aw, but WE don't get any if you make it at home!"
"Well, maybe for your own birthday then! Buy your own bananas." Having finished tying my apron, I shot her a grin and picked up an order.
She took advantage of my hands being full and untied my apron strings
as I walked away, making it fall to the floor and giving me no option
but to leave it there.
"You know my birthday is in ten months!!!" We both laughed.
The week before, my boss had told me about his favorite dessert; Banana
Foster. I had never had it before, and he told me that if I brought the
bananas, he would make it for me on my birthday. All of us were looking
forward to it, but of course, I forgot. It was ok though. We could try
again the next week.
Smiling, I greeted a
couple sitting against the wall and handed them their breakfasts. They
were regulars; I recognized their faces, but I hadn't ever spoken to
them much. As I adjusted the flowers on their table, the gentleman commented;
"That sounded like quite the celebration in there! What's the occasion?"
"Oh," I blushed a little, "it's my birthday. I'm eighteen."
was hoping that was it," his wife giggled. "The only ideas we'd had
were that it was your birthday, or you were engaged. But as you walked
up, I realized you looked a little young to be engaged."
"Wow, eighteen is a big deal!" he smiled, "You doing anything special? Is there going to be cake?"
I laughed. "I'm not that into cake. I was supposed to bring
bananas to work today so Patrick could make banana foster, but I forgot.
I'll be having ice cream later today though, so that's
probably plenty of sugar." We all laughed, and I went back to my
cleaning and straightening.
Lunch rush was
busy, and all the Saturday regulars came in; the three old ladies who
liked the corner by the window, Mr. and Mrs.
I-Really-Should-Know-Their-Name-By-Now who lived in Poland once, the
gentleman who always ordered the "biggest latte you've got", and the
little girl who had a bright new bow in her hair every week. We were
kept busy, and customers flowed steadily in and out for about an hour.
As things finally slowed down and the end of my shift got closer, I
walked through the restaurant and spot cleaned a few tables. My
thoughts began to wander to the evening's plans, and I
checked the time, wondering if I might be able to leave early.
A bell on the front door rang, and I straightened up, prepared to
greet the newcomer. To my surprise, it was the lady I had talked to that
morning. She had changed, and was carrying some groceries. Grinning,
she walked up and handed me one of the bags.
"You can't miss your eighteenth birthday dessert."
That was certainly unexpected. I gaped at her, and looked down at the bananas in my hands. Then I
giggled. The surprise and delight of the situation slowly made it to my head, and I bent forward in breathless laughter. For whatever bizarre reason, tears came to my eyes, and I
looked up again as we grinned at each other.
"We were grocery shopping in the area, so figured I would stop by again."
"Oh, my, word. Can I hug you?! You're the best!!"
I hugged her as Diane snuck up behind me and snatched the bananas,
scurrying back to the kitchen, and announcing loudly that we were saved. As the boss-man got to work in the kitchen, the sweet lady left. I washed up and put my apron away, and we all set the coffee table with spoons and napkins for a much anticipated dessert and some accompanying laughter.
Never in my life have I had anything so delicious.