When Hollywood darlings Judd Apatow and Leslie Mann creak into their nonagenarian years, maybe they can model a sequel to This is 40 on Phyllis’ recent birthday week.
Some of you remember the birthday bash we held last year when Phyllis turned 90. But this year, she said she wanted to keep 91 on the DL No party. No gifts. Well, okay. I guess she hadn’t counted on Gail coming to visit and revising the plan.
Gail blew into town from Missoula with a great idea: “Let’s celebrate with a birthday dinner every night!” She had barely unpacked before we all headed down to her local favorite restaurant, The Palace Grill, for a cajun-style dinner. Phyllis was eyeing the martinis in mason jars they serve there, but sedately settled for a glass of Chardonnay with her cajun crabcakes.
For birthday dinner #2, Gail defied the folks at TSA and possibly all rational thought by carrying her homemade pesto (she grows her own garlic and basil!) through airport security to host what has become a traditional West Coast pesto fest.
Guests included Phyllis’ friends Barb and Nettie, the CE and I and, of course, the dogs. We sat outside on the patio before and after dinner, sipping wine and listening to the crickets sing their last song of summer.
The next night, it was up to us to keep the birthday dinner ball rolling, so we trundled our little gang up to the club for Prime Rib night. So much for all that calorie-counting I’d been doing for the previous few weeks…
The foregoing was, of course, just a warm-up for the main act on Phyllis’ actual September 5 birthday. She was in the mood to expand her dining horizons, so we trekked up the mountain to Los Olivos, where we took in a bit of wine-tasting and then dinner at the Sideways-famed Los Olivos Cafe.
The sidewalks roll up early in Los Olivos, but we were lucky to discover Mary, the amiable manager at the Daniel Gehrs tasting room, open for business. In addition to the convivial group gathered round the bar, the resident feline, Clio, wound her way through the room, equally disdainful of each patron. Just as it should be with a cat, right?
As the birthday week drew to a close, Gail had to head back to Missoula, her cats and a new job. We broke bread together one last time with lunch at the Boat House.
Phyllis thought her birthday had come to an end, and settled in to her going-on-92 routine: walking up and down her Conejo-grade-style street and driveway, baking homemade sweet rolls for her three children, six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, playing bridge twice a week, going to dinners, movies and concerts with friends and, oh, embracing her inner techie as she emails on her computer and reads on the new Kindle we gave her (couldn’t quite get with that no-gift rule, sorry!)
But wait – there was one last dinner in store! Because birthdays are seasons and we wanted this one to go on as long as possible!
You can’t help getting older, but you don’t have to get old.