July 6, 2020

More than Just the Birthday Cake Was on Fire

• By John F. Chisholm •

We celebrated my birthday this week.  It was cozy in the kitchen, the woodstove warming the room.  The event was marked from the beginning.  The cake caught fire ― truly.  My daughter used every available candle and still complained about not having enough.  Pink, blue, yellow and red birthday tapers crowded the icing, melting more than enough wax to set the frosting ablaze.  I blew everything out in an instant but took 40 minutes removing the remains.  Yeah.  Either I’m old or there were a lot of candles.  No.  I can’t say which and I didn’t count.

While the cake cooled I unwrapped my presents.  Nathan gave me the best gift, arriving from Colorado just for the occasion.  We were all together, a complete family as a result.  That doesn’t happen very often anymore.  It’s surprising how much I miss it.

Wendy gave me pants.  Heaven knows, I need them.

Kim gave me a T-shirt.  I read the message printed on the front aloud.  “If a man speaks on a desert island and no woman is there to hear him, is he still wrong?”

It struck me just right.  I had to laugh, even though I was the butt of the joke.  I pointed out to my daughter that if a man were alone on a desert isle that he wouldn’t speak.  There’d be no need.

My son joined in.  “If a woman were alone on a desert island would she shut up?”  He paused a moment, reflecting.  “Would the NSA still record it?”

“You’ve got a couple of points there, buddy.”  I slapped my leg, laughing louder.

My daughter made a face.

My wife decided to take umbrage with the entire exchange.

The result?  Even though it was my birthday, my daughter gave me the T-shirt which was one I’d never seen before and I certainly hadn’t written its text, I was thoroughly censured for my sexist humor.

It made me laugh all the harder because I’d say their objections proved the message.  Completely.

After all, I did read it aloud.  Worse, in this instance, two women heard me.

I was SO wrong and, I should point out, for far, far, FAR from the first time.

When we finally moved on to wax-flavored birthday cake, I winked at Nathan.

I don’t know about your family but mine wouldn’t be together unless we disagreed.