Happy birthday to my beloved Mr. Magpie.
You turn 37 today and you are not happy about it, but but but —
I look at you and I see the life we have built together with all of its nasty, crooked jags and its tender, fortunate mercies. I see in your eyes the weight and joy of recent years, borne equally.
Of the many things I love about you (and there are so, so many), lately, I have found myself leaning particularly intensively on your uncanny ability to simplify things. You look at a problem and see only solutions. You do not permit yourself to wallow in the agonies of indecision or woe-is-me or why-is-this-happening for long. Instead, you assess and move swiftly toward resolution. You’re not into funny business or sleight of hand or roundabout curlicues; you are straight-forward, direct, your reasoning abilities razor sharp, your moral compass better tuned than the engine of a sports car.
I envy the simplicity with which you live your life, and I draft off of its elegance. When I come to you with a concern or an aspiration or an observation, your calm, logical energy makes me feel at once in good hands and eminently capable myself.
Thank you for cutting such a handsome shape, in this arena and across countless others.
Onward we go, full throttle.
P.S. I still feel all the jitters when I think about seeing you in Lyon when we were just babies.
P.P.S. “Half of me sees the smile wrinkles in the corners of your eyes, the graying hair, the distinguished look you’ve cultivated with age — physical reminders of the very full, though not without struggle, life we’ve lived thus far together — and the other half sees the boy in the olive green shirt that brought out the hazel of his eyes when we were just kids.” More on how much I love you here.
P.P.P.S. Some of my innermost fears about remaining interesting to you have long since been disproven, THANK GOD.
Mr. Magpie’s Birthday Loot.
We don’t always go big for holidays/birthdays — sometimes it’s a smallish affair and other times we go all out. It was a go-all-out kind of year for him. He worked hard this year — professionally and personally — and I am so proud of him. In addition to burgers at Minetta Tavern to mark the occasion, I also snagged the following gifts:
+Inspired by the TV show Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, I bought him this fancy soy sauce (he loves sushi and I think this will bring the experience to a new level) and this high-end seaweed salt, which people go nuts over (and is featured on the show).
+He was in need of some new cooking inspiration and so I gave him not only the Prune cookbook (we both loved the restaurant here in NY) but this well-reviewed vegetable cookbook, too. (The latter won a James Beard award, which is kind of a big deal.)
+While in Charlottesville for our little two-day trip, Mr. Magpie enjoyed his fair share of cocktails. He’s into old school ones like the Bijou, the Aviation, the Vieux Carre, and the Last Word. He mixes a lot of old-fashioneds at home and it dawned on me, while watching the bartenders mix drinks, that while we have a pretty elaborate set of barware utensils, Mr. Magpie does not have a proper cocktail pitcher and tends to mix his in a shaker (even when it’s a stirred cocktail). I ordered him one of these along with this highly well-reviewed “vintage cocktail” book (he already has a few in his library, but Garden & Gun raved about this particular one).
+Not truly a birthday gift, but Mr. Magpie recently cut his hair really short — “like Matt Lauer, if Matt Lauer weren’t a perv” is how I’ve been describing it. I love it on him; he looks younger and more athletic. He’d been debating it for nearly two years and then, on New Year’s Day, he announced that it was his new year’s resolution, went downtown to a barber, and cut it all off. I was so proud of him. It takes big guts for a dude to buzz his head. Anyway, I’ve now become his personal barberette (?). We bought this (again, very well-reviewed) to keep his short hair on point every two or three weeks.
+Mr. Magpie lives in his J. Brand Kane jeans. They are slim-cut but not skinny; Mr. Magpie is not a skinny jean kind of guy. They hold up ultra-well in the wash and with the hard way in which men wear all clothes. So a new pair were in order.
+Mr. Magpie’s big gift was a Canada Goose Langford coat. I should have bought him one back when we lived in the arctic midwest, but it’s been chilly in these parts, too. I don’t care if everyone and their mother owns a Canada Goose — it’s with good reason. These coats are the warmest, best-made parkas known to man. Sometimes I see him head out the door when it’s 22 degrees outside in just his Barbour coat and I think, “Oh hell no!” This solves the problem.