I'm going to brag and say I know how to enjoy a birthday.
This one began with a drive to the Outer Banks on a day when a hurricane was hanging about.
An hour and a half into the trip and listening to a mix tape (literally) from 1992 called "!Stood Up!" the weather gods descended on us.
A few droplets became driving rain, which segued into sleet and then pounded us with hail.
I hate to nitpick, but not only is it not hurricane season yet, but since when do we have hail in May?
We went from dry to terrifying in about two minutes, necessitating pulling over to eat bananas while enjoying Rockpile and Ned's Atomic Dustbin until the worst of it passed.
Once at the beach, a walk seemed in order, if for no other reason than to admire the magnificent cloudscapes we'd just recently escaped.
Yet again we were reminded of Alberto's presence when our beach stroll ended with rain, first light and then sufficiently driving to leave me with a soaked skirt and a head of wet hair.
A bottle of Prosecco ensured that we returned to birthday mode after being drenched.
Dinner was eaten on the balcony overlooking the ocean and involved eating with fingers while lightening shot across the horizon.
Not a bad view for my pre-birthday dinner, if I do say so myself.
After starting a second bottle, this one South African, we decided to take advantage of the rain having moved on and walked across the street for ice cream just before they closed.
Mine was a scoop of mint chocolate chip over a scoop of dark chocolate orange, which, when eaten on a blanket on the beach at night, seemed like the best idea I'd had in eons.
Crashing surf? Check. Changeable sky? Yep. No one around to disturb the dessert course? Perfect.
Shoes left on the beach until the next morning? Sure, but so what?
Sleeping with the door wide open to the sound of the waves, I woke up to being a year older with a smile on my face.
My birthday breakfast had been decided in advance; I wanted pancakes and bacon on the pier.
A short two mile beach walk put us at a corner table of the pier restaurant where our waitress Holly said, "Well, if it's your birthday, you need to have a Mimosa."
I ate myself stuffed, making the walk back down the beach a necessity as well as a real pleasure.
Alberto gave us no further trouble, although it was quite breezy for our afternoon under the new beach umbrella.
Cherry pits were spit out, watermelon sections dripped down chins and ripe pineapple was so sweet it felt like a guilty pleasure.
Standing in the surf watching as people walked up and down the beach, I spotted my favorite beachcomber.
He was a much older man with thinning, white hair and a cane, dressed impeccably in a button-down shirt, khakis and water shoes.
Despite the cane and his obvious slow pace, he was methodically walking just exactly along the water line, never quite getting wet, but never more than inches from the foam of the latest wave.
It was a thing of beauty watching him trace the water's edge.
I only hope that when I'm that old that I still want to walk along the edge of the ocean with a look of satisfaction on my face.
The drive home provided none of the weather drama of the earlier trip, but the music was just as good, if mostly a tad more current than Mighty Lemon Drops.
One of the more colorful sights was a home as tribute to the dead.
On an old salmon house, someone had painted in crooked letters, "R.I.P." and a man's name, birth and death dates.
Next to it, in slanted words was, "One hell of a guy."
For the record, I have no problem with someone wanting to memorialize me on my house once I kick the bucket.
Once back in RVA, without even washing the rain and saltwater out of my hair, my birthday dinner went down at Amour.
Starting at the bar with Lucien Albrecht Cremant d'Alsace Brut Rose and tarte flambe, we soon followed with escargots ("dirt food" as my dinner companion noted) and Reisling d'Alsace Heimberger.
Even only two wines in, the snail tongs were used to great hilarity.
Despite some sparkling conversation at the bar, part accented and part throaty, we decided to move to a front table for a view of Carytown's street theater (mostly people with trough-sized Sweet Frog dishes) and the rest of the meal.
A charcuterie and cheese plate (Boucherondin goat and Comte) brought two wines, a Chateauneuf du Pape White Domaine de la Bastide St. Dominique and Mount Ventoux Red.
A lump crabcake followed and at long last, dessert.
Six little dishes of sorbet - grapefruit, strawberry, kiwi, orange, espresso, and cocoa with candied orange peel- were an exercise in flavor bursts as each one exploded with fruit or caffeine.
Naturally only bubbles could do housemade sorbet justice, so we had Cremant d'Alsace Brut de Brut and saved the heavy lifting for last.
Chocolate caramel sea salt creme brulee was paired with Muscat de Beaume de Venise Domaine de la Bastide St. Dominique to put us firmly over the edge.
Did I need more chocolate after six tastes of sorbet? I did not.
Did I enjoy every bite anyway? You know it.
With not even a corner of room left in my belly, it was time to step away from the table.
Conveniently, the stars had aligned for the Blood Brothers (plus Greg Darden) to be playing the hits tonight.
So down to Ipanema we went, where clearly the birthday gods had given them a heads up.
The handsome bartender Gabe offered me dessert (sadly, not doable at that point) and two of my favorite music lovers had a bottle of wine waiting for me.
Bottle and glasses in hand, we commandeered the bench and sat back to hear what 60s and 70s vinyl the guys were going to play for this Gemini.
My birthday was getting more amazing by the minute.
Want to know what I mean? How about this set: "Steppin' Stone," "With a Girl Like You,"Summer in the City," and "Little Bit of Soul" for sheer mid-sixties pop perfection?
Various friends showed up, lots of stellar music was played and I felt like the day had been a birthday treat in every way.
Yea, I've still got sand in my hair. And, definitely, my body is still in sugar shock. I'm quite sure I haven't had enough sleep this week.
Is this any way to celebrate with a girl like me?