Mike broke up with me on my birthday. Not just any birthday, either—my 30th. HE BROKE UP WITH ME ON MY 30TH BIRTHDAY!
It’s a wonder I ever dated a guy named Mike after that. But I did. Once or twice or…
But I digress.
He wasn’t even a man about it; he was a wuss. A big, fat, wuss! He told me, “I’m going to hang out with Frank tonight. We’re going to smoke a joint and play video games.”
“It’s my birthday,” I responded. “I thought we’d go out to dinner, maybe go dancing. The kids are at their dad’s house, so it’s just you and me.” I ignored the drug reference; he liked to say outrageous things to see people’s reactions.
“Like I said, I’m hanging with Frank,” Mike the Plumber answered.
“Sounds like you want to break up,” I answered, trying not to let the disappointment and hurt affect my voice. Birthdays should be special. In my world, the Birthday Girl should be treated like a queen and her every whim indulged, like a bride on her wedding day. Only, without the outrageous dress and all the relatives. To hear the very opposite from a man who claimed to love me…well, that was unthinkable.
“You said it, not me,” the Asshole answered.
“Actions speak louder than words. Come and get your stuff,” I answered, hanging up the phone. Ian McGee had forced me to break up with him in high school, then played the pity card to get close to the girl he liked, so I was familiar with the Forced Break Up tactic. Unfortunately.
I didn’t wait for him to show up; instead, I pulled empty boxes out of the garage and upstairs to my closet, depositing in them the clothes that had been hung there the week before. Though we’d only been dating three months, we had clicked well, and I had been happy to have him move in. Now I saw the move as a ploy to make me break up with him: moving too fast was one way to freak a girl out. Especially a divorcee. And especially especially a divorcee single mom. Why hadn’t I seen it before? And why hadn’t I noticed that he had tried picking a hundred little fights with me?
I went to the kitchen and pulled out the coffee mug that I had bought him the month before, and put it on top of his clothes. I didn’t need any reminders of his sorry ass or an excuse for him to call me.
He was there and gone in minutes. I waved and smiled at him and Frank when they pulled out of the driveway. The men gave me confused smiles back. They obviously thought that I should be in tears, yelling, or—well, something other than cheerful.
I wouldn’t give the bastards the satisfaction of seeing me cry. Fuck ‘em, this is MY BIRTHDAY—MY THIRDIETH BIRTHDAY—and they could kiss my ass if they thought I was going to sit home and pout.
I picked up the phone and dialed my ex-boyfriend, Pirate Boy. He earned the name by wearing bandanas in his hair to class, where we had met. About ten years younger than me, about average height and build, his stunning intelligence and charming words had won me over.
“Hey, Pretty Lady!” Pirate Boy said brightly. “To what do I owe the pleasure of your call?”
I took a deep breath. I had broken up with Pirate Boy because he liked to piss me off, fight, then be the good guy who made everything better. Kinda like a pirate who fired the cannons, then rescued the fair maiden from the sinking ship; it was nice of him to perform the rescue, but not really since it was his fault the ship was scuttled in the first place. I had tried in vain to teach him that smooth waters made me happier; but he thrived on the fight and strong emotions that conflicts and resolutions entailed (e.g. make up sex). We were on again, off again for a couple of years.
But I’d be damned if I was going to sit home alone on my freakin’ 30th birthday.
So I say, “It’s my birthday, let’s go dancing.”
“I would do anything for the pleasure of your fine company,” Pirate Boy answered in his peculiar way. “I am, regretfully, promised to go to my parents’ house for dinner. You can join me or I can meet you afterward, sometime after 9 p.m.”
“My house, 10 p.m.,” I say without hesitation. Dinner with his parents was always awkward, since he had a love/hate relationship with them and—HELLO!—I had broken up with him 4 months prior. I can just imagine the dinner conversation:
“Are y’all back together?” his mom would ask.
“Nope, just having birthday sex,” I’d answer.
Uh, let’s pass on that one, shall we?
Next, I called Reggie and Portia, who were only too happy to meet me at Cool River to celebrate. Portia’s boyfriend Jay had set me up with Mike (aka the bastard who broke up with me on my birthday), and he was more distraught than I was.
“He seemed like such a nice guy,” Jay told me, “I’m really sorry that he did this to you. But hey, you got some free plumbing work out of it!”
Portia agreed. “Yep, you needed your shower re-tiled, and he helped with that. Saved you a couple hundred bucks. Now, let’s get the Birthday Girl a shot!”
“I’ll drink to that!” I said loudly, over the cover band. Then I turned to Reggie and said, “Let’s dance!”
I had never danced with Reggie before, and I was reminded of how tall he was, as we moved on the crowded dance floor. At 6’4”, he was a full foot taller than me. When the next song came on, it was a slow song. I moved to go sit down, but he pulled me into his arms and we swayed to the music. I loved him more than ever; he had dropped everything to come out with me, even though he hated dancing and loud bars, but here he was, holding me close, supporting me literally and figuratively. In that moment, I wished that I hadn’t called Pirate Boy.
But I didn’t have a cell phone to call Pirate Boy, so my course was set. At 9:30 p.m., I told Portia with a wink, “I’ve gotta go! Meeting Pirate Boy at my house!”
Surprised, she covered her shock with a laugh and answered, “You go girl!”
Jay gave me a hug and I left with Reggie, my designated driver. On the way home, I sang loudly to the radio, enjoying the buzz and really glad that I hadn’t driven myself.
Reggie parked the car in my driveway and I hugged him. “Thank you. I didn’t want to spend my birthday alone, and you came to my rescue. I really appreciate that.”
“Do you want me to come in?” he asked.
I hesitated. Did you think that I’d trip walking up the shallow stairs to my door? Or did he mean something more? We’d been friends for a couple of years, but I had been dating Pirate Boy and then Mike; this was the first time that I’d been single. Had he been waiting for a chance?
Before I could answer, a car pulled into the driveway beside us. I told Reggie, “Pirate Boy is here. I’ll talk to you tomorrow, ok?”
In the dim light, I couldn’t tell if he was disappointed or surprised. I climbed out of the car and was immediately swept up in Pirate Boy’s embrace. “Hey Pretty Lady!” he said. “Happy birthday!”
Reggie left while we were kissing hello. Pirate Boy was as handsome as ever: shoulder-length brown hair, sparkling brown eyes, and strong shoulders. My passionate, loving Pirate who knew how I liked to be touched where I liked to be kissed. “I missed you,” he whispered in my ear, and once were inside, he showed me just how much.
The next week I summed up my weekend as, “My boyfriend broke up with me, so I snapped my fingers and an ex-boyfriend came running. Happy birthday to me!”
That’s right, Mike – you lose, I win. And trust me, I was a winner all. Night. Long.
This flashback was brought to you by My Birthday! And the Committee for Hopeless Romantics.
P.S. Pirate Boy and I were on again/off again for another year after that. The sex was great. #WorthIt
Photo credit: www.finessecakes.com