Happy Birthday, Al!

He’ll probably kill me for this, but I like acknowledging birthdays, and if his birthday isn’t all about me, I don’t know what is.


The man I married, being himself.
The man I married, being himself.

His present didn’t arrive in time (read: I didn’t order it in time), but I’m currently letting him sleep in and considering other generous and heartfelt expressions of love, such as loading the dishwasher, making him a piece of toast, and maybe not yelling so much. But hey, he’s the one who doesn’t like birthdays, so I don’t want to get carried away. 

Happy birthday, my love. I’m glad you were born.

Also, happy Father’s Day where applicable, and big fake internet hugs to those who are missing someone today. (My own dad is frightened and confused by the internet, so I’ll give him a call later.)

ETA: Just talked to my dad, who said, “You know, I was proud of you, until I saw a 3-year-old on TV this morning who can run a whole pool table. Cute as hell, just a little wee thing, had to stand on a box, but boy, can he shoot. I was a bit disappointed he didn’t smoke a cigar. Anyway, I thought you were a pretty great kid until I saw that.” LOVE YOU TOO, DAD.

72 thoughts on “Happy Birthday, Al!”

  1. Happy Birthday!

    I’m celebrating Father’s Day with my dad, with a delicious batch of homemade cupcakes. With homemade whipped cream in the middle and homemade buttercream. NOM.

    I will necessarily eat five, and then regret it when my stomach explodes.

  2. I called my dad, and true to form he thanked me for my gift, cracked a joke, and handed me over to my mother.

    Honestly. Dads.

  3. Right Sniper.

    What is it with men and birthdays, Father’s Day and any other reason to make a fuss over them. They get flustered and we love them all the more for that.

  4. Happy birthday, Al! And many more.

    I think I shall stick my head in a stoplight today in his honor…assuming I run across one I can reach with my head.

    Oh, and Kate? I think I kind of love your father. That sounded a lot like something my father would have said, and damn, but he was a great guy.

  5. Many happy returns, Al!

    I don’t know whether there are any stoplights around here in which I could successfully stick my head, but if I run into one I will probably think about trying it.

  6. Happy Birthday Al! I’m headed to my dad’s house shortly with my requisite baseball hat father’s day gift.

  7. Happy birthday Al! Incidentally, you look very very much like one of my college housemates. (I mean, not just from the back. I’ve been thinking this since the wedding pics.)

  8. HB to Al, who was not one of my college housemates. Many happy returns of the day!

    As to Father’s Day, my family has the odd blessing of having our beloved patriarch with late stage incurable cancer. That’s the bad news, but the good news is that he is feeling okay (he still plays ping pong from time to time!) and we are able to have days like today where we can appreciate the bejesus out of him while we have him in our midst. It doesn’t add sadness to our celebration; it adds mindfulness, which is sort of a remarkable thing and really not bad at all.

  9. Happy Birthday Al! Today is also the birthday of a friend of mine from back home.

    From the looks of that picture, you married quite a guy, Kate!

    I kind of hate Father’s Day; I have a sucky, dysfunctional relationship with my dad. Lots of baggage and bad memories. So I called him early this morning, before I went to church, and gave him the obligatory Father’s Day greeting. I thought it would be best to do it first thing in the morning so I could get it over with and not have to think about for the rest of the day (especially during church).

  10. ((((((((everyone for whom Father’s Day is a difficult one to get through)))))

    I’m basically lucky on the dad front. I mean, he’s kind of a MWET (like, pretty much anything I say about my life he replies to with “Well, for what it’s worth…”) and sometimes both my parents act like my husband’s the grownup and I’m the kid, but I know they’ve got my back, however imperfectly.

  11. That’s because I was one of your college housemates.

    lol, I wish! I’ve been wanting to get back in touch with that fellow for ages.

  12. I WAS going to take the padre for brunch and make a little fuss of him, until he asked wistfully “do you have plans in the works for Father’s Day? Because I really want to go fishing. We can just have dinner on Sunday as usual.”

    “OK. So what do you want for dinner?”

    Blank stare. “Oh, I don’t care. Whatever you want to make.”

    Sigh. Some people are harder to spoil than others.

  13. Just spoke with Dad. Tried not to get all reactive at his detailing of an intricate exercise regime (he’s 72; I’m recovering from an eating disorder and have chronic pain from excessive exercising). That said, I am glad he’s alive. I get along much better with him than with my mom. At least he’ll eat cake once in a while (and maybe two).

    I’m so sorry, Rebecca. Sending positive energy your way.

  14. @ sister ann – that’s the kind of attitude i want when i’m making someone dinner. (generally i get it, but every once in a while when it’s too many weird or vegetarian things in a row, he gets all evangelical for the steak on me.)

    happy birthday, al! we love you, man. you are a key ingredient in kate’s happiness, which means i’d love you no matter who you were. ;D

    kate, i also have a man born on the solstice – his birthday was yesterday. :) i’m all jealous ’cause my own birthday is in the miserable dead of winter and people forget it and there can never be barbecue. but because i have him, i now get a summer birthday party to enjoy every year anyway! except this year when i told him he’d either finish this project on the house or he’d never see his boat again. that was tough, but he eventually got hamburgers and double-chocolate brownies so it’s all good.

  15. (((Charlotte and Rebecca)))

    I get along with my dad okay, although he has a hard time realizing that one only gets to raise a child for 2 decades, tops. After three or four, it’s just annoying. I feel very protective of him, though, because underneath the bossiness, the refusal to listen to anybody, and the tendency to speak in monosyllables, he’s very emotionally vulnerable. I don’t think that’s unusual in old-school fathers.

  16. This is totally off topic, but I’m wondering if anybody else has seen previews for the new Fox reality show that’s basically The Bachelor, but with fat people. It’s called “More To Love.”


  17. My sister gave birth to her baby today. My father informed me that he would like to have another baby next Father’s Day so I’d better get on that. Greedy much?

    Also, happy birthday to Al!

  18. Saw previews for More to Love. I thought it looked like the biggest loser crossed with the bachelor. It seemed to make people feel sorry for the fatties. Like, we can’t get dates without help. Not that we would have successful, fulfilling lived otherwise. All we do it sit around feeling sorry for ourselves, right?

  19. I saw the ad for More to Love, it made me cringe a little. But the show that’s really worrying me is this series they’re doing on Oxygen called Dance Your Ass Off. It kind of looks like a combination of Biggest Loser and So You Think You Can Dance.

  20. Happy B-Day, himbilongKate!

    As for my own spouse, he’s really bummed that, after having lost well over a hundred pounds in one year through bicycling and minor diet changes (drinking diet pop instead of regular pop, eating more salt-free food, etc.) , he’s pretty much plateaued at around the 240 mark, give or take five pounds depending on the season, for the past three years. (The weight loss WAS medically necessary, by the way: He went in for treatment of what turned out to be celluitis on his shins, and also found out that he was retaining fluids in his legs AND his blood pressure was in the “why haven’t you had a stroke yet?” range.)

    I’ve been trying to talk to him about set points and about how the fact that he got down to the 240 zone so quickly and has stayed there is a likely sign that he’s already at his set point (which is not the same set point he had when he was a teenager), but he’s bought into the whole self-shaming trip (doesn’t help that his mother only thinks him as good as his last weight loss).

  21. minor diet changes (drinking diet pop instead of regular pop

    OK, that is the THIRD man I’ve heard of — including Al and an ex-bf — who found that cutting out sugared pop resulted in noticeable weight loss. My head always explodes when I hear that, because A) HOW MUCH FUCKING POP WERE THESE GUYS DRINKING? CUTTING OUT SUGARED POP MAYBE MADE ME LOSE LIKE A POUND, AND THEN I NEVER DRANK IT AGAIN AND STILL GAINED ALL THE WEIGHT BACK. And B) it makes me realize that men for whom that is possible are probably the ones writing half the “just eat less and move more” articles that drive me up a fucking wall.

    Sorry to zero in on that little bit of a more serious post, but seriously… HOW MUCH POP?

    As for the rest of it, could you get your hub to read a book? Gina Kolata’s Rethinking Thin comes to mind as something that might bring it into focus for him.

  22. Add my boyfriend to the “quit drinking sugared pop (and caramel frappuchinos) and lost 25 pounds without really trying” group. It mystifies me too. But the boyf both puts on and loses weight much more readily than I do–another quirk of metabolisms, I guess.

  23. Also, has anyone mentioned “Drop Dead Diva,” premiering soon on Lifetime? A blond model wannabe dies and gets her shallow soul shoved in the body of “a brilliant, thoughtful and plus-sized attorney with a loyal assistant (Margaret Cho).” Billed as “the ultimate showdown between brains and beauty.” Withholding judgment for now, but bad sign that being fat automatically puts you on the other side of the tug-o-war from beauty.

  24. Gina Kolata’s Rethinking Thin

    Always, every time, I hear “If you like Gina Kolata, and getting caught in the rain…” and it takes hours to go away.

    You’re welcome.

  25. My husband lost about 15 pounds on the “cut out soda” diet. Whereas I’m in the Sarah Haskins camp of “Don’t drink regular soda in the first place? Fuck you!” Yeah.

  26. And B) it makes me realize that men for whom that is possible are probably the ones writing half the “just eat less and move more” articles that drive me up a fucking wall

    Or tell their fat female relatives to “just eat everything in moderation” to be thin. Grrrrrr. I’ve never drunk soda (or fruit juice, or anything else “junky”) in my life, dammit. Maybe I should start so I can give it up and become socially acceptable.

  27. The aforementioned Spuddy cut out soda and juice and lost about 50 lbs without otherwise modifying his diel, although he did start going on a treadmill every day. Maybe it’s just men?

  28. Happy Belated Birthday to Al.

    And thanks to the folks on the thread expressing support to people having difficulties with Father’s Day. Sorry I didn’t see it till this morning — I was having so many difficulties with the holiday I went completely off the grid all weekend.

    You see, my Dad up and died just 3 weeks ago. (Well, Sunday night May 31, so I guess it’s 3 weeks and 1 day, now.) No illness, no chronic condition, no expectation: just threw a clot and with a snap of the fingers, that’s all she wrote.

    I’m still half in shock. I’ve been wishing I knew how to say something in the Shapeling world about this (kind of wanting every ounce of support I can get), but it just felt so much like threadjacking to throw this info into a comment thread.

    So now I’m threadjacking anyway. At least it’s a mostly relevant topic?

  29. ((((((((((((MezzoSherri)))))))))))))

    I am so sorry for your loss. Losing someone that suddenly is surreal as well as awful, and my heart goes out to you.

    Would it help if I started a “Grieving Shapelings” group over on Ning? I think I might need it too, actually.

  30. I spent an hour on the phone with my dad last night. He’s the only person that I can spend that long on the phone with and talk about absolutely nothing of importance.

    I realized that I inherited a lot of my worldview from him somewhat indirectly. My misanthropy is much milder than his, but I haven’t been all over the world like he has, nor am I 65. He’s also the only one who truly understands my constant annoyance at being flirted with by unemployed, older men while riding mass transit.

  31. Oh MezzoSherri! I’m so sorry for your loss. It sounds a lot like how my mother went. Yeah, it’s a pretty shocky experience. Just know that there are lots of us here who are here for you anytime you need it.

    (Holds MezzoSherri’s and SM’s hands)

    I’m here for you guys.

  32. lol, I’m so glad I’m not the only one with the male friend who ‘stopped eating fries’ and has lost 25 lds in 2 months. No exercise.
    He threw his back out 3 months ago, and the DR told him he needed to lose weight (the belly was straining the back). So, even though the back prevents exercise, he just cuts out fries, and has soup and salad for lunch, rather than a sandwich and loses 25 lbs in 2 months.
    Realizing that men and women’s bodies evolved for different purposes, with different ‘efficiencies’ is the only thing keeping me sane.

  33. Happy Birthday to your husband to to you by proxy.

    And I just gotta quantum physics out on you and say I don’t think internet hugs are fake! It’s (us, the net, everything we could possibly name) all just one huge blanket of energy anyway. So I believe all those internet “big hugs” land somehow. But geez…..that opens up a whole creepy can of worms I that I could definitely live without thinking about! Ack! Sorry for the visuals that may have induced!

  34. ((((((MezzoSherri))))) Shit, I’m so sorry. I don’t even know what to say. I wish I could come and bring you a casserole.

  35. “but seriously… HOW MUCH POP?”

    “Don’t drink that much soda? FUCK YOU!” /sarah haskins

    Happy Belated, Al!

  36. Happy Belated b-day, Al!!!! Hope it was wonderful. And I’m so sorry that your wife didn’t learn to play pool at the age of 3 or so – but I guess we can’t ALL be perfect.

  37. (((( to MezzoSherri and anyone else who is hurting)))

    My grandmother died not too long ago, and I am still grieving. I went to my parents for dinner yesterday, and my mom gave me some of my grandmother’s things. I cried all the way home holding a butterfly brooch of hers. I will miss her forever.

  38. Kate, i want to echo ((((((MezzoSherri))))) ‘s thanks. my partner’s father recently died and my father, while living, isn’t so happy about me being a big ol’ queer. being bombarded by so many “OHMYGAWDHAPPYFATHERSDAY”s can be super overwhelming… so, yeah, thanks.

    also, I’ve been reading for years and am happy to finally comment! woot!

  39. Ha! today (22nd) was my birthday, and although I’m normally just reading around here, I couldn’t resist telling you that one of my friends gave me ‘lessons from the fat-o-sphere!’ I’m thrilled and can’t wait to start reading!

    And of course, Kate, best belated birthday wishes for Al! :)

  40. Thanks everyone for the kind words. These bits and pieces of support are really amazingly helpful. I’m totally on board with the quantum physics of virtual hugs being quite real. I’m not so sure about the quantum physics of A Sarah’s virtual casserole, but I certainly appreciate the wish you expressed to bring something by. (((Sticky))) and (((jennagodis))), I’m sorry about your losses, too.

    Inappropriate humor alert: when my sister and I got down to my parents’ place after Dad passed on, we were scrounging for food amongst the TONS of stuff friends and neighbors had already brought by. Then we looked at each other and asked “Why is all this food so damn healthy?! WE WANT COOKIES!” (I guess the dessert memo got out: next day, the brownie tray and cookies arrived to be added to all the fruit salad, roast chicken, and spaghetti dinners that had shown up in the first wave.)

    I think you might be onto something, SM, with the idea of a “Grieving Shapelings” group. Unfortunately, loss and illness are part of the human condition, so I bet there’s other Ninglings aside from us folks in this comment thread who’d find it helpful.

  41. Then we looked at each other and asked “Why is all this food so damn healthy?! WE WANT COOKIES!”

    Oh, man, I had the opposite. After my mom died, everyone brought over dessert stuff, and I stood staring at the fridge, going “WHERE IS THE FUCKING LASAGNA? WASN’T SOMEONE SUPPOSED TO BRING LASAGNA?” (I mean, not that lasagna is health food. Just that everyone brought sweet when I wanted savory.)

    I actually put that bit in a novel I never finished writing.

    Fake hugs to you, Mezzosherri, and to Sticky and jennagodis and all the lurkers in similar situations.

  42. Kate, I always bring lasagne rolls, garlic bread, salad and the BIG box of Pepperidge Farm cookies when I bring over a condolence meal, mainly because this is a comfort meal for me and because cookies and lasagne seem like two complementary sides of the eating spectrum.

    Hugs to everyone who needs them. My dad and I are very cool, so it was a nice talk to note the day. More aggravating was my ex, who called to remind me to have his children call him. Note to self: being treated like an idiot administrative assistant is why I asked his sorry ass to leave.

  43. Yeah, Mom’s neighbors delivered lots of the savory, but when I first got there, the “sweet” consisted only of fruit salad. Lots of fruit salad. (Someday I’ll unpack all the FA/HAES thoughts I have around THAT.)

    Honestly, my experience losing Dad has me kinda rethinking what my approach is gonna be next time I bring over a condolence meal. Primarily, I’m thinking of adjusting my timing. We got more food than we could use (and even more than we could freeze) during that first week. And I’m realizing for me, it’s only just now — 3 weeks later — that I’m really beginning to feel the awfulness.

    I’m wondering if next time I’m in the position to bring over a condolence meal, I might say something like: “I know you’re inundated right now, so pick a date, 3, 4, 5 weeks from now, and I’ll bring you dinner then.”

  44. And I’m realizing for me, it’s only just now — 3 weeks later — that I’m really beginning to feel the awfulness.

    Shit, yes. This is one thing I really wish more people were clued into, when they’re trying to figure out how to help a grieving person. In that first week or so, A) it hasn’t quite sunk in yet, and B) everyone in the world is calling, writing, and dropping by with food. Then, just as it IS really starting to sink in, everyone disappears. Which is the fucking worst.

    I mean, it’s probably just a phase every grieving person has to go through at some point — hitting the point where you realize you’re just going to keep feeling shitty for a really long time, and many or most of the people in your life cannot share that with you. That grieving will not involve everybody sitting around talking about how great your loved one was, and how sad this is, for as long as it takes until you feel better — the reality is, other people’s lives were only barely interrupted by the news, while yours was blown apart.

    But at the same time, I get so furious at the way we deal with grief in this culture, acting like 3 days off work and some sort of a memorial service are actually supposed to heal the pain so everyone can move on. I’ve mentioned this here before, but about 3 weeks after my mom died, I started crying at work, and a co-worker asked what was wrong. I was like, “Uh, my mom died. I’m kind of a wreck.” Co-worker: “Oh, I didn’t realize you were still upset about that.” OMGWTF? Yeah, you’re still fucking upset about it after 3 weeks. And 3 months. And 3 years, though in a different way. And, I’m sure, in 3 decades, though that will also be different.

    Here’s what I wish I’d known, and what I wish everybody knew: It takes about a year before you start to feel normal again. Maybe a little more, maybe a little less (I didn’t really perk up for about 18 months), but a year is average, according to all the literature I only consulted after my mom was gone. People who haven’t lost someone very close have no clue about the way it hangs there in the background all the time, even long after you’ve gone back to work and all your old routines. And the year cycle makes sense, since you have to go through the first everything without that person — father’s day, mother’s day, birthday (yours and theirs), all the holidays and anniversaries… And it sucks every time. I mean, it doesn’t necessarily flatten you every time, especially as the year wears on, but it sucks. My old shrink described it as taking a seam ripper to all the little threads that connected you to that person — the closer you were, the more threads there were, and the longer it takes.

    I hope this doesn’t sound unbearably bleak to those of you who are currently grieving and don’t want to hear it’s going to feel this awful for an entire year. I promise it’s not going to feel this awful the whole time — but it’s going to be pretty awful. There’s just no escaping that. And I hate that nobody warns you about it in this culture.

    And the problem with nobody warning you is, nobody who hasn’t been through it realizes that yeah, a month, 5 months, 9 months, 12 months later, you’re still trying to process it, still thinking about it a LOT, still wanting to talk about it (if you’re generally the kind of person who likes to Talk About It). I think a lot of people were afraid to ask how I was doing any longer than a week or so after my mom died, because they didn’t want to upset me if I wasn’t thinking about it right at that moment. But basically, I was always thinking about it for 18 months, even if I was also thinking about other things. It was always there, and always a relief when someone would open a door so I could talk about it.

    Anyway. A thread on the ning site’s a great idea, but as far as I’m concerned, people are welcome to keep talking grief here. Al’s birthday is over — go nuts. :)

  45. This is why I think for all the negative press they get, the Victorians had it right when it came to mourning. Depending on how closely related the deceased was, you might wear special clothes for up to a couple of years (unless you became a Professional Widow like Queen Victoria). It acted as a reminder that healing wasn’t going to happen freaking overnight.

    After all, I know my grandmother wasn’t the only widow to find that the whole thing really hit home several months after the event. She was in the grocery store and saw some lamb chops and thought to herself how much my grandfather would love them for lunch…and burst out crying when it really sunk in for the first time that she was never going to cook him another lamb chop.

    I had the same sort of experience about two months after my mother died when late one night I suddenly woke up and it all became horribly real. Luckily I had Mr. Twistie right there and he just held me until I could tell him what had happened. I knew it before, but that was the moment when I KNEW it down to my bones.

    It’s been nineteen years and I still hate the last week of February. And I still tend to wear a lot of grey and dark colors that week. I don’t do it consciously, more I suddenly realize I’m hurting and dressing to the hurt.

  46. I knew it before, but that was the moment when I KNEW it down to my bones.

    I had that moment while walking to work. Nothing in particular triggered it, it just really, really, REALLY hit me, after I already thought it had hit me as hard as it ever could, and I fell apart.

    I hate that moment.

  47. My husband is another ‘stop drinking pop and go down a pant size or two’ kind of guy — and the answer to ‘how much pop?’ for him, at least, is between 40 and 72 ounces a day. No joke. And at 100 calories per 8 oz, I can see how killing 500-900 calories per day might make a difference. If, you know, one has his metabolism.

  48. I know this is totally different that the loss of a loved one, but I still feel grief over my parent’s divorce. On the day the divorce was finalized (July 15), I do something to commemorate the day (usually i try to do something happy and positive). It’ll be 10 years this year. I know it’s not the same as the death of a loved one, but my parent’s divorce was an extremely devastating and life altering event in my life. I still feel the consequences today.

    I’m so glad I can come here and stuff off my chest. :)

  49. I pass that stoplight every day on my way to work. From now on I vow to imagine your husband with his head stuck in there. Also, my dad has the same birthday. That is all.

  50. Kate, tears ran down my face when I read what you wrote. You’re so good at expressing things. My grandmother’s death WAS expected, and I thought I was ready for it, but I wasn’t. I felt like everyone wanted me to move on after the funeral, but I still haven’t been able to stop thinking about her.

    I feel so much guilt for not making more time for her in these last few years. I feel like I should have appreciated all my moments with her more, and now that part of my life is over forever. It’s like a part of me died too. It made me realize that I will have to go through this again with my mom and dad, and I’m terrified to lose them. The idea of the first father’s day after losing my father makes me burst into tears. My heart goes out to those of you going through this.

    Some of it feels self-absorbed. I feel like it changed how I feel about my own mortality. My grandmother had close to 100 children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, great great grandchildren. I held her hand while she died. I have no children. Who will hold my hand when I die?

    It feels good to let it out here. Thanks for the space and for all the hugs and kind words. I think my grief makes friends and even some family feel rather uncomfortable. Even my husband who has been so supportive does not really understand why I am still upset. But I’m still upset.

  51. Also, Charlotte, I’m so sorry for your pain. Divorce is like death in a way. I know my husband still grieves his parents divorce that happened when he was 5. His mother left and moved across the country with the children, and he lost his father for all intents and purposes on that day. He has expressed to me that the kid in him that still wishes it could have been different, that fantasizes about the family that he could have had.

  52. That first sentence made me laugh so hard! The picture is pretty incredible too. Happy Bday, Al!

    *great big hugs to anyone who needs or wants them*

    Man, do I ever miss hanging out here. I fell outta the loop a while back and can’t seem to fall back in… every time I come in expecting to have fun participating again I feel like a guest without a darn useful thing to say… I can’t even figure it out. It’s weird, because I still love everybody just as much. :P I think it has to do with a fairly large recent change in focus in my life. Anyway, hope it’s an okay place to say this, just wanted to let you all know, if my absence was noticed and anyone was curious: I’m fine, and nobody has ever done a blessed thing to offend me, I’m just distracted!

    Ah, and RE: Father’s Day… we didn’t do as much this year. Had dinner at my sister’s house. I mostly spent it holding my nephew, and not so much with my dad. I’ll probably miss his first few years of life though, so I want to hold him while he’s still young enough to cuddle. And Daddy has already had a whole lot of my cuddles, so it’s time to share. ^_^

  53. I’m glad to see you, SugarLeigh! It’s been a while, I hope things are okay with you. And I’ll take one of those hugs!

  54. *hugs for Charlotte* Okay, so, I’m looking at your userpic, and if that’s you, you really gotta teach me how you do that thing with your smile that makes your whole face go YAY. Cuz it’s pretty cool.

    Things are great, actually. Know why I’m distracted? I so totally got into grad school in Scotland and I’m heading to Dumfries in the fall!

    I’m rly rly excited omg.

  55. Grad school, yay! Welcome to the club! I’m starting my second year of seminary in the fall, I’m pretty excited. And grad school in Scotland? That’s pretty awesome.

    Yes, my userpic is me, and I don’t know how I do that smile thing, it just kind of happens. But I’m glad you like it!

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