A Birthday Wish

I’d much rather be doing something else on my birthday besides having to run to the hospital to see the love of my life. I’d rather have celebrated it with him here at home. But hopefully, I’ll get the next best thing: He’ll be home sometime today or at the latest Monday.

I’ve never been one to really enjoy having a fuss made over myself. Of course at work, you practically have to, since it really isn’t about the birthday boy or girl. (Did you not know that?) It’s about the CAKE. Life centers around the next celebration, nevermind what it’s for. Someone’s bunion healed? Great, let’s have cake. Won a big case on appeal? What kind of cake shall we have? And on and on. In fact my second assignment came up to me Friday and asked me what kind of cake I wanted. I had to stop and think a minute. What was he talking about? And then I remembered. Shit! It literally had snuck up on me. So of course I told him, “Oh anything is fine, there really isn’t much I won’t eat. Just be sure you get something the team likes.” (Like they have a very refined collective palate. Yeah. These lawyers in my office will eat just about anything that doesn’t eat them first!)

But the funniest birthday story ever happened to me when I was working in San Antonio. I was working for a (difficult) female partner and she practiced medical malpractice insurance defense. So we represented doctors and hospitals. One case we were actively involved in concerned a nurse who had sued the hospital system and a platoon of doctors. One of our allegations was that she had Munchausen’s by Proxy. Even going so far as to liken her to the infamous “baby death nurse,” Genene Jones. But there’s one more bit of trivia to tie them — and me — all together. All our birthdays are on July 13. Yes, I, Genene Jones and the plaintiff nurse were all born on the same day (not the same year; however).

So my boss, proud of herself for thinking of this (as it had become somewhat of an inside joke between us), decided to have my birthday cake decorated with the following phrase:

Happy Birthday, Joni, [name withheld], and Genene!

And of course, left it in the office kitchen/break room for later festivities. Meanwhile, along happens one of the junior associates, also female. She’s terrified of my boss and wants to garner points with her whenever she can. She spies the cake in the box, lifts the lid, and discovers the horrible mistake. She turns to the attorney with her and says, “Oh my God, if R. [my boss] sees this, she’ll have a fit! Let’s try to fix it before she finds out.” And proceeds to grab a butter knife from the drawer and starts scraping [namewithheld]’s and Genene’s names from the cake. She did a bang-up job, too. You’d never know there was ever anything on there but “Happy Birthday, Joni”

Of course, when my boss sees this, she freaks out and goes postal. So much for her clever little idea. But to her credit, the young associate fessed up. Whereupon, I couldn’t resist commenting that no lawyer is apparently capable of passing up anything, not even a birthday cake, without making a revision to it!

And my best birthday gift? Well it was two years ago today that I was driving back from Orange County, California with my new (to me anyway) 300ZX I’d just bought from a nice fellow in Laguna Niguel, California. My boss had given me Friday the 13th off to fly out there. To this day, that car remains my best present yet. And the drive? I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat!

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