I am a love child...literally.
When I was younger, I'd ask my mom how I could have been born only seven months after they got married and still have weighed 8 1/2 pounds; she always changed the topic of conversation.
So, back in 2002, when the guy I was dating inquired about the parental dynamic that produced me, I went directly to my Dad for an answer.
And what an answer it was!
"Tell him the dynamic produced you on the first try...that alone is noteworthy! Usually it takes several tries to get something perfect. Truly a work of art born of love!!!" (And yes, I kept that e-mail).
How could I not appreciate so revealing and flattering a statement from Dad, especially when he didn't have to share it (see: Mom's responses)?
Learning that I was the reason my parents got married was never a burden, though, because they went on to produce five other children (all girls) and are still happily married today.
And today was my Dad's birthday, which means the annual birthday dinner extravaganza in Fredericksburg, so up Route 301 I went to celebrate.
Our destination was La Petite Auberge and our reservation was for 7:00.
Arriving, the only unoccupied table was the one laid for us in the center of the room; we'd begun at the Kenmore Inn for cocktail hour and were ready to dive right in amongst the bustling crowd and wait staff.
While assorted bottles of red, white and rose were being ordered and brought to the table, I was pleased to spot my wine of choice for the evening, the Zonnebloem Pinotage, and knew I was set.
The challenge was the menu, which is extensive and rich. I started with the split pea soup with ham and sausage (and bad green soup jokes) when the server warned us of the kitchen being slammed.
The soup, crusty rolls and Pinotage provided an ideal way to stave off hunger for a while.
My dinner choice was the almond-crusted flounder with capers, but since there were no duplications in orders at our table, I also got offered bites of veal, rock fish, flank steak, pork chop, short ribs, mahi mahi, prime rib, crab-stuffed shrimp and even mussels in a Newburg-like broth.
The flounder did necessitate switching temporarily to the Loire Valley from Stellenbosch for a Sauvignon Blanc, but I made the sacrifice before returning to my first love for dessert.
My ever-efficient sister had pre-ordered Baked Alaska for dessert, so it arrived table side to be doused in Drambuie and set aflame, to the surprise and unexpected warmth of nearby tables.
One couple lamented not having the foresight to have ordered their own the required 24 hours in advance.
If this sounds like a meal you'd see in a movie from the 70s, well, it kind of was, but in a charming, retro sort of way.
My folks, after all, are retro, having been very happily married for decades now.
My dad still thinks he is the luckiest guy in the world and that my Mom is the most interesting and attractive woman he's ever met.
He may very well be the last of his kind.
And a man like that is certainly worth celebrating.