Saturday, December 18, 2004

Turning 40, Again

Tall and Lanky, one of Smartmom's youngest friends, finally turned 40 on December 10th. Finally. Smartmom is pleased to share the same decade with her even if Smartmom is six years farther along.

Last night, Smartmom and friends celebrated Tall and Lanky's birthday in style at the brand new Stone Park Cafe. It was a lovely, talk-filled evening full of humor and high spirits. Not much mention was made of the Big Four Oh which seemed to suit Tall and Lanky just fine. All of the women at the table were beyond 40 and from what Smartmom could ascertain, Tall and Lanky seemed cool and collected about her milestone. And she has plenty of reason to be: life is good and it's just gonna get better.

Most of Smartmom's friends have now turned 40. Many are well on their way to the next decade. It seems like she's been celebrating lots of 40th birthdays for the last ten years or so. She can think of only a few friends who are still in their thirties. But Smartmom will most certainly be with them when its their turn.

Hepcat was the first, turning 40 in 1995. For months he procrastinated about what kind of party he wanted to have. He and Smartmom looked into all kinds of possibilities but a couple of things were sure: Hepcat wanted to prepare the feast and he wanted to include friends from every phase of his life: childhood, college, life in Manhattan, graduate school and Park Slope.

And that's pretty much what they did. On a rainy, June night, Hepcat made a delicious dinner for a wide-ranging group of friends and family. Clever Grandma and Hepcat's sister flew in from California as part of the childhood contingent. There was a sampling of friends from his alma mater, Bard College, as well as representatives from his years in the MFA program at Cal Arts. Smartmom's friends and relatives came in droves as did friends from work and lots of Slopesters and their children.

It was a memorable event made even more memorable by the "Photo Address Book" that Hepcat created that evening. The "Photo Address Book" is a Hepcat invention. He shoots a polaraoid picture of each guest and crudely tapes them into a cheap spiral notebook. People write their addresses and messages in black Sharpie. Hepcat has been making these books since the late 1970's and they are an interesting record of many events in his life.

Hepcat's passage to 40 was a bit rocky. At that point, he still wasn't sure what he wanted to be when he grew up. Interestingly, the next few years would bring about a great deal of change in that department. Hepcat's computer career would take him into many interesting venues. And in 1997, OSFO would come along, enhancing their lives in immeasurable ways. Now on the cusp of 50, Hepcat seems clear about who he is. He has returned to his first love, photography, and seems to be thriving as an artist and a dad.

In 1998, Smartmom (and Groovy Aunt) celebrated their 40th birthday at Groovy Grandma's Upper West Side apartment with its smashing views of the Hudson River. At the elegant, catered affair, a tall waiter passed around glasses of champagne and delicious hor d'oeuvres while a jazzy duo of upright bass and electric guitar played. Smartmom even got up to sing a few songs.

Smartmom's identity was definitely in limbo on her 40th. She had quit the film and video biz one year earlier to have OSFO and had just started writing. She was doing the Park Slope stroller thing -- hanging out with OSFO full-time, going to babygroups, the Third Street Playground, Music for Aardvarks and other baby-friendly activities in and around Brooklyn and Manhattan. She had no idea at that point, how important writing would become. Or how much she would want to be home for her children in the years to come.

For a few years she attended more than a few 40th birthday celebrations including a restaurant surprise party with a "This is Your Life" slide show, an at-home bash with a raucous rock band, a loft party with a Thermin player, and a 40th birthday clam bake for Dadu the night before his wedding.

Then it seemed that the parties stopped for awhile. One group of friends had safely entered their fourth decade and things were quiet.

But soon, another group of friends, younger mommy friends made during OSFO's pre-school years, began to hit 40. Smartmom felt like the old-timer of the bunch, watching these friends step past their thirties. And yet, she savored this second set of celebrations.

One friend had an elegant dessert party with champagne and heartfelt toasts; another had a big drinking bash where she got so tipsy she had no memory of what she said or did, still another threw her husband a mariachi and margaritas surprise. Upstate Pal turned 40 just a few months before moving awasy from Park Slope so her cozy party in the candle-lit wine cellar at Convivium was also a farewell gathering. And last year, Smartmom enjoyed planning a top secret surprise birthday luncheon for Real Fruit Jelly and her coterie of close female friends.

So now with Tall and Lanky's party past, things should be quiet for a while. That is, until Smartmom and Hepcat celebrate Hepcat's 50th. The wheels are already turning and they're starting to scout locations -- a banquet hall in Chinatown, a Russian place in Brighton Beach, the Stone House (a Revolutionary War building in the park on Third Street and Fifth that is now a space for special events). The guest lists is accumulating and some people have even been casually invited as in: "We'll be seeing you at Hepcat's 50th gala on or near June 6th..."

And so it goes. The older one gets the more one wants to celebrate. Because celebration is a good thing: an excuse to toast those we love, those we hold dear.


At 3:35 PM, Blogger brooklynfox said...

SM, Always a pleasure to be mentioned in your blog. My birthday luncheon was a total blast. (You did forget to mention the Mexican Mariachi night I had for The Good One.)I feel like I'm in the quandry you were in at 40. But, at the same time, I like being 40 when I thought I wouldn't. Hopefully in 6 years I'll be as cool and productive as you are. Love, RFJ

At 12:13 AM, Blogger brooklynfox said...

SM, don't know if I missed it or you so kindly added The Good One's party to your list but, well, there it is. Thank you, either way. If you added it after reading my comment, it was not necessary! I was just joking! Thanks again, my friend. RFJ

At 12:13 AM, Blogger brooklynfox said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 11:25 AM, Blogger Third Street said...

I added it. Knew there were other recent 40th parties.

At 8:05 PM, Blogger Adam M said...

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