Donald was in a full-on panic. Somehow, in the chaos of starting up a 24/7 dry-cleaning business, going back to school full-time and attempting to manage a semi-normal home life, he had forgotten his eight year old son’s birthday. Now at a quarter till seven o’clock, Donald was driving around the city like a madman looking for anything he could quickly wrap and hand his son at the birthday dinner he was expected at in fifteen minutes. Cursing under his breath, he pulled into the only half decent place he could find for a gift on the fly- a Walgreens.
Walking through the automatic doors, Donald was figuratively kicking himself for refusing to let his wife, Janet, take care of getting the gift this year. Standing in the toy aisle, Donald stared at the cheap plastic action figures and out-of-season beach toys, the conversation from a few weeks ago replaying in his head. “I don’t know why you act like I’m incapable of buying Dylan a decent gift,” he had said. Janet had given him that sideways smile- the one that meant she knew better but was too much of a lady to say so, and told him that if he thought he could handle it she would be happy to leave it in his capable hands. He took the bait and now he was standing in the toy aisle of a convenience store ten minutes before his son’s birthday dinner deciding between a knock-off Spiderman Frisbee and a plaster garden gnome. Sighing, Donald grabbed the gnome and sprinted to the checkout lane.
Five minutes later he was back in the truck and zooming to the Kobe Steakhouse where the rest of his family was probably already waiting. “Janet will never let me hear the end of it,” he told himself as he pulled into the restaurant parking lot. Grabbing the gnome, newly bedecked with a bright yellow ribbon around his pointing hat, Donald jumped out of the truck and made his way through the parking lot towards the restaurant. Seeing his family waiting outside, he hid the gnome behind his back and with as much enthusiasm as he could muster exclaimed, “Hey kiddo!!! Man, you must be getting old if you let an old geezer like me sneak up on you. What, you’ve got to be at least 70 years old with those reflexes.” Donald teasingly tussled Dylan’s hair and gave him a hug. Turning to Janet, he gave her a wink before Dylan demanded his attention.
“Hey dad. So what’d ya get me?” Dylan said, smoothing his thick dark hair back in place and trying to peak around Donald’s back.
“Oh real nice, it’s all about the presents is it?” Donald said with mock-sincerity. What makes you think that this is for you, anyway?” He said while turning to keep Dylan from seeing the gnome still hidden behind his back.
“Cause it’s my birthday, duh,” Dylan replied impatiently.
“Oh, well then. I guess this is for you after all,” Donald said before presenting the gnome with great flourish to his son.
“Dad? What the heck is this?” Dylan looked at the odd little statue with the absurd yellow ribbon perched on its green cap.
The rest of dinner was spent trying, unsuccessfully, to convince Dylan that the garden gnome was actually a really great gift. Needless to say, it didn’t go over too well. Following dinner, the family of three began walking towards their cars, when a giant hawk swooped right in front of them and perched itself atop a “Take Out Parking Only” sign.
“Look Dyl, look at the hawk!” Donald said with hushed excitement. The boy was immediately enraptured with the creature and refused to move a muscle, lest he scare it away. Dylan had always been a huge fan of birds, especially birds of prey and this was the closest he had ever been to a live one. Janet stood behind the two of them, and sighed at the subtle majesty of the creature. “You know Dylan, I think this just might be Happy Birthday Hawk I ordered for you. I was afraid that it must have gotten lost so I got you that dumb gnome as a backup,” Donald said quietly as they continued to stare.
“Seriously? I didn’t know there was such a thing as a Happy Birthday Hawk. Dad, this is the coolest present ever!” Dylan whispered to his father without taking his eyes off of the hawk.
“Yeah babe, great gift,” Janet whispered sarcastically behind them.
Seeing the hawk was just the kind of luck Donald had needed and it gave him another idea. Thinking on his toes he said, “Dylan this is just the first part of the gift. The Happy Birthday Hawk is actually my way of telling you that for your birthday we are all going to the new Birds of Prey dinner show that just opened up down near the attractions. Cool right”?
Dylan looked at his father and was speechless with excitement. Looking back at the hawk who was now nipping at a mite under his wing, Dylan whispered, “Dad, this is the best birthday ever.
The Not So Fantastic Reality:
The above story was inspired by the following tidbits I encountered today:
ONE: Happy Birthday Andy! I know you don’t like people making a fuss for your ‘special day’, but tough.
TWO: Dinner at Kobe’s Steakhouse in celebration of le boyfriend’s birthday. Is there any other place to eat on a birthday? I think not.
THREE: While attempting a nap this afternoon, I was awoken by Andy sscreaming, “Oh my God! Holy… em, holy snot!” (snot may be an edit of the original comment). Sitting up with a start I looked around the house to see where the fire was and not getting an answer from Andy, I looked towards the back door where he pointing. There, just outside our glass door, sitting on our fence as happy as can be was a large hawk. Andy grabbed his camera and snapped a few great pictures while the bird of prey just kinda, hung out. Eventually he flew away, but for about 10 minutes he just sat and stared at us. It was awesome.
Love & Squirrels.