The birthday finale could not have been more wonderful.
After being collected by a friend (and former co-worker, stylish and witty, an artist, cook and gardener extraordinaire) of 18 years, we took a driving tour of J-Ward that ended at Lucy's for dinner.
I try never to miss a chance to show off the 'hood.
Positioning ourselves at the far end of the bar, we got the party started with floral-scented Le Petit Balthazar Rose and major debriefings on both our parts.
Make no mistake, we both had our frustrations to share but there were also laugh out loud stories (hello, cottage cheese) and art excursions to plan. Those paintings aren't going to look at themselves, you know.
I couldn't have ordered up a better soundtrack: Stevie Wonder, Jackson 5, Al Green, all classic stuff played loud enough to save others from having to listen to our blather and laughter.
With the early evening sunlight lighting up the restaurant through the big front window, we began our meal with herb cream cheese-stuffed roasted endive inside crispy house cured pork loin.
I know there are people who think they don't like endive and to them I say: wrap some pig around it, fools!
It was my friend's first time at Lucy's, so she took time to look around and enjoy all the little details that give it such charm - dog plates, wire heads, an entire row of Roses on the bar.
During a discussion of my upcoming beach trip, she insisted we stop and open presents, including a thoughtfully-chosen card ("Everything seems to speak to me of my passions..."), a Chop Suey gift certificate and Donna Tartt's Pulitzer prize-winning novel "The Goldfinch."
Having read and loved the book, she was adamant that it be part of this year's beach reading for me.
Done. I promised to bring it back with sand in the spine.
For dinner, she chose a killer special of crispy red snapper with lemon aioli, spaghetti squash, spinach and red peppers and generously shared a nice chunk of it with me while raving about the squash and how she wished hers was as good.
Meanwhile I got and shared a stellar dinner salad of bacon-infused chicken over mixed greens with hard-boiled egg, cukes, tomatoes and carrots.
It's rare I get jacked up about chicken but start infusing it with bacon and it's a different story.
While the conversation kept flowing about parents, porches and untimely strokes, the Balthazar flowed as well, its strawberry flavor perfectly attuned to a June night celebration of a May birth.
All around us, people came and went from booths and tables, even the bar, but we stayed focused on each other and the conversation since our evenings out are usually limited to less than two hours and tonight's knew no boundaries.
When I went to tell her about the massive firefly extravaganza I'd seen in the country my birthday weekend, she countered with a recent NPR story about fireflies this time of year. Only then did I learn that all those flickers of lights were about sex, tiny courtship dances to attract a mate.
And here I thought they were just to entertain me on my birthday weekend. It's a very good friend who not only gifts you, but takes you out to be wined and dined and teaches you something along the way.
Eventually, I find our server standing at the end of the bar beside me scanning the room like a good server does, so I turn to ask the only pertinent question at that point in a long Rose evening.
Is there chocolate?
"Yes, there is. Would you have it?" she responded with an economy of words.
This 11-day birthday marathon wasn't going to be able to end without chocolate, so I had to assume hers was a rhetorical question.
My taste buds read the flourless chocolate torte as almost mousse-like and with vanilla bean cream and blackberries, found the closure for my prolonged celebration.
While talking to a neighbor the other day about what I'd been up to lately, I'd mentioned my recent birthday. "You seem like a person who would stretch out a birthday as long as you could," she'd observed with a smile.
Is it that obvious?