Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Big Three-Oh, Part Two

In my last post, I said that this post would be me ranting about American Idol. However, I've decided to save that rant for another day. Instead, I've decided to follow up with another birthday post, this one less bleak.

Back in April, Richie asked me how I wanted to celebrate my 30th birthday. In my head, I told him, "By not having one?", but of course, I know that you can't stop the hands of time, no matter how much you pray to God that you won't really have to turn the big THREE-ZERO, and I told him that I wanted to have a party. Not just any party, though. Oh, no. I wanted a hire-the-babysitter, hire a DJ and a bartender, BBQ a hog and let's-dance-and-get-drunk kind of party. I wanted to drown myself in margaritas and Fergie. So, against his better judgement, Richie started doing exactly that--planning a goodbye to my twenties.

One morning, sitting on the deck of the house at Pirateland, sipping coffee and reading the paper in my Snoopy pajamas, I saw an ad for the Carolina Opry. Richie and I started talking about how I'd never been, and I looked up from the paper and said, "I don't want a party anymore." I thought he would looked relieved, but instead, he looked worried, asking me over and over again if I was sure. "Yes," I told him. "Let's just go have a really nice dinner and go to the Carolina Opry." I decided that I didn't want a hundred people around, watching me turn 30, looking at me to see what I had and hadn't accomplished. I wanted to be with my husband, who loves me no matter how old am I, and regardless of the fact that I, still, not famous. With a still-worried look on his face, he agreed.

That was the last I'd heard of it until about the last week of June, when Richie told me with a smile on his face that he'd bought us second-row tickets to the Carolina Opry. "So close you can feel those tap-dancing boys sweat on you," he said with a laugh. He also made reservations at Divine's, where I could eat sushi to my heart's content. I was ecstatic, and immediately went into "what will I wear" mode.

That Saturday, the last in June, I spent most of the day getting ready. I ended up choosing this sleeveless white full-skirted dress with pink and blue floral print. I swear, it is the most beautiful retro thing I own. The skirt swishes around my knees, and really highlights my calves, because we all know that I have killer legs. I chose my favorite pair of shoes (in pink, of course), and blew out my hair. I think I spent an hour on my hair alone. Putting on makeup was another laborious process, as I haven't worn it all summer. But, all in all, it's so much fun to get girled up. Richie was extremely patient, and I was thankful. "After all," I told him, "we're not all naturally handsome like you. Some of us have to work at it." He looked so nice in his khakis and his orange button-down shirt. I wanted to kiss him right there, but his parents (and Cathryn) were looking.

Our reservation at Divine's was for five, and we were the first to arrive. They sat us an a table that overlooked the Inlet and was very near to the Sushi Bar. I could see them making our dishes. It was truly awesome to watch. I chose to drink water, even though Richie said he didn't care if I drank. I didn't want any of that night erased by alcohol consumption. The sushi was awesome. If you don't eat sushi, really, you should try it. Just once. If you like fresh seafood, please please try the sushi at Divine's. Especially the tuna. It was like putting Heaven in your mouth.

Driving up to The Carolina Opry, I could feel the butterflies building in my stomach. I know I should proabbly be embarrassed to say it, because it is a tourist attraction, but I can't bring myself to be ashamed of something I'd been looking forward to for most of my adult life. Y'all know how much I love music and performance and theater. Honestly, I was atwitter, and I clutched Richie's hand as we parked. My heart pounded when the theater went dark and the stage lights came up, and the singers walked, no, burst onto the stage with "Me and My Gang". I could feel every word in the pit of my stomach.

What broke open the floodgates, though, was when one of the male singers sang "King of The Road", by Roger Miller, which my Daddy used to listen to all the time, and then broke out into George Jones, "He Stopped Loving Her Today". I could. not. stop. crying. All I could think of was my Daddy, and how much he loved this music, and how I had tried so hard to rebel against all the things that he loved. Strangely enough, though, I knew every word to both songs. Richie held my hand tightly the entire time. I was thankful.

The last thing that got me, was this singer named Tangena Church. She was a slight woman, with long straight brown silky hair. I had been watching her all night, because she obviously loved what she did. Then, she killed me. She walked out in the most beautiful white gown I had ever seen. I clutched Richie's arm. I knew the song from the first strains of music. It was "And I'm Telling You" from Dreamgirls. The tears began flowing from my eyes--I was gripping Richie's arm and barely breathing. You'd think I'd seen Elvis or The Beatles. When she was finished, I wanted to rush the stage and hug her, but she was so small, I was afraid that I'd crush her. I opted to gush to her later after the show, with my hands burning from applause.

On the way home, Richie finished off The Best Birthday Ever with a cappuccino for me. I went to sleep that night with a sushi-music-caffeine smile on my face. I didn't even bother to wash off my makeup. I was too busy holding Richie's hand.

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