Sunday, January 10, 2010


On my 3rd birthday, my mom did something rash.

We lived in West Virginia at the end of a long, treacherous dirt road, which was especially treacherous at the beginning of January, when my birthday is. There was a lot of getting stuck on that road and bundling up and piling out of the car and walking the rest of the way home. There was also a lot of getting snowed into the house and having a friend who lived in town come and rescue us, and in the meantime eating squirrel stew. It was getting-stuck kind of weather on the day I turned three, but getting stuck isn't what happened.

So, my Ma is very generous and enthusiastic, and she loves her some special occasions. So that morning as she piled me and Allison in our little blue car to start the long drive down the road into town, she said, "Jessie, it's your birthday today, so we can do whatever you want! We can even go to McDonalds if you want!"

Well, this is kind like informing Attila the Hun that the Balkans are currently unprotected, but to please observe a little forbearance and self-restraint when making important merger decisions. By the time we got to the end of the driveway, I had decided what I really wanted was to climb the snowy mountain across the road from our mailbox. So, Ma, Allison got out of the car and started post-holing our way up the mountain, only Allison had only just turned 1, so she got carried and I had to walk. So then I decided it was time Allison walked and I got carried. Barring this recourse, I figured we should just go back to the car.

So, the mountain (or 12 yards of it) climbed, and the mail gotten, we started into town (Keyser, WV, current population something over 5,000; who knows what it was back in 1981), and at the McDonalds, Ma started to turn into the parking lot. But no--we would not be dining at McDonalds that day. I had a memory of my dad stopping at an establishment a few weeks back, at which I had to wait in the car while he entered, spent 10 minutes or so and came back out. So, whatever the name of that bar was, we went to it.

At noon on Friday, we were the only pretty lady with two toddlers in the whole joint, if you can believe it. But they made us grilled cheese sandwiches, and when the bartender discovered that that his place was my choice for my birthday luncheon, he broke out all the 10-day-old New years decorations, and made a general announcement to the patrons, so that I got a lot of vaguely heartfelt congratulations from some tipsy coal miners.

So, Ma's mistake was in telling me that my birthday was for doing whatever the hell I want. And here I am a grown woman, and now my husband is saddled with the burden of anticipating and responding to my every caprice every January 9th.

It is, however, still fun for me. Bryan's just lucky it comes but once each year.


  1. Squirrel stroganoff, actually, because of the sour cream that used in the recipe. Ma

  2. My other favorite story which occurred in the exact same spot as the tromp up the snowy mountain was when ET McLean used my address as a place to send his new driver's license. The day it finally arrived coincided with the day a wee little mousie decided to give birth to her litter and found our mail available to chew into fine confetti for her little ones. Some of the mouse bedding was a pale blue, the color of driver's licenses (made of paper in those days).