Against all odds, my birthday party carried on.
The rain was awful. The Chargers were worse.
But I did get all dressed up. In fact, I looked fucking incredible.—I should have taken a picture. Next time. Maybe. I’m so bad at pausing for pictures.
Unfortunately, the Chargers lost. Twenty-seven to zero at halftime, and the fuckers lost. They missed a field goal in the third quarter that, in the final three seconds of the game, cost them the playoffs.
Justin is angry and disappointed. For a half hour after the game, he yells and kicks things. After changing for our night out, he went outside to “cool off” while I finish getting ready. He came back in, wet from the rain.
“Damn, Cha Cha looks good tonight.” He says, but it doesn’t sound like him.
He tells me with sincerity, “I want you to have the best birthday night! But I’m really disappointed right now. It’s bad timing for your birthday. I’m fucking pissed.”
I can see that he’s about to start ranting about 27-0 at the half again, so I pull him close. We slow down together. A few seconds later, I push away. We kiss on the dismount.
“Bye Copper Soup!” We say to our cat, Copper Soup.
It’s still pouring outside.
A short walk from the car, the restaurant is loud with blue-grassy-sounding live music. Most of the tables have been cleared away to make room for a Saturday night standing crowd. We can’t hear each other and walk outside, back into the rain.
“Let’s go to Piña,” Justin says, wishing to be my birthday hero.
When Piña’s kitchen turned out to be closed, we tried the next place. Hunger and rain against my glittery boots. They sparkled as I walked, keeping the party alive.
We eventually found an open spot (apparently not an easy feat on a rainy winter night. Saturday or not, it was 9 pm, and most kitchens were closed.). We sat down and ordered quickly.
I was on my second mojito when our entree came out. It wasn’t what I was expecting. I should have ordered a burger.
Justin is unphased. “If you want a burger, get it!”
“But now I’m not that hungry. I’m going to take like three bites and be done.”
“Then we will take it to go. We can put it in the car before going to Shelter.”
“She wants to order something else,” He says to the waiter.
I have a vision of myself in this dress, clutching and consuming a burger. I feel sexy and powerful and satisfied.
“I’ll have the fig burger, please.”
“She’ll have the fig burger,” My boyfriend repeats to the waiter.
“I’m so sorry,” the waiter says back. “Our kitchen closed at ten.”
A jolt of birthday disappointment. I feel cold and depleted and exposed in my sexy dress. I convince myself I’ve had enough to eat. The waiter comped one of my mojitos, closing the birthday dinner on a high note.
Back outside, in the still-pouring rain, we cross the street to the nightclub in Encinitas, Shelter. Justin knows the guy to know. We’re treated well once inside.
By now, Justin is drunk. He drank three IPAs during the game (maybe 4? But I counted three. …not that I’m counting). He drank one beer at dinner. And he has one in hand now. I’m holding my third mojito as we dance our faces off to the funky beats of house music.
Justin is having a great time.
I want to be having a great time too. I want to be in the moment. This is my birthday party! This is my night.
Cha Cha showed up just then. She saw something she wanted.
“What are you smoking?” She asked, aware of how damn good she looked.
“Sativa.” Said the euro-presenting man at the private table to her left.
“May I?” She said.
“What about your boyfriend?” He said. Maybe. She couldn’t really hear him and didn’t care.
“He’s fine.” She said, then inhaled twice.
“Be careful.” He said, on her second. She exhaled. and returned to her side of the banquette.
I lock eyes with Justin as we dance closer together.
“You know, Justin,” I say, “I really am madly in love with you.” His drunken face lights up with a smile.
After an hour of dancing, we are back on the street. It’s not raining anymore and the air feels fresh as we walk toward the car.
A couple walks by and smiles. I remember them now and smile back. We must have left Shelter at about the same time.
The man is wearing a long camel overcoat. The woman’s coat is chocolate brown leopard print, maybe suede with patent or leather trim. As a couple, their coat game was on point.
“Are you walking home or to your car?” She asked sounding like she’s asked this before.
“To our car,” I say. “We live at the top of the hill.”
They are walking home. I am intrigued by these new characters.
We say goodnight and peel into the parking lot. When we start to drive, we pass them like strangers.
My birhday party ended the momement Justin unlocked the car.—We were back to when the Chargers lost after a twenty-seven-point lead at the half. Back to the night God slighted us from the playoffs.
At home, I take off my glitter boots and sexy dress. And we go to sleep on this sad night in San Diego.