Sunday, August 17, 2008

Best. Birthday. Ever.

I am feeling the best kind of exhausted today. : )

My Big Three-Oh Celebration was a huge success. A great time was had by all. It started off a wee bit rocky, as the Birthday Girl got caught in horrid traffic on the Bay Bridge, but sanity was never lost and tears never shed.

Normally when I have an event I'm going to, I give myself a cusion of time just in case I hit delays. I didn't do this last night, as I was schlepping on the makeup and blow-drying my hair until the very last minute. I threw some clothes into my backpack and ran out to the car...where I discovered that if I didn't fill up the gas tank, I'd be coasting into the city on a teaspoon of gas.

I was actually making very good time when I hit the outskirts of Oakland. A traffic info sign said, "Downtown SF -- 38 minutes." Now, I know these things are generally very accurate, but still, I was the Birthday Girl and no one was keeping me from my big celebration. "Psh," I said out loud to the steering wheel. "Thirty-eight minutes to get from here to downtown? It's barely 15 miles!"

Famous last words.

Before long, I was in a parking lot. Seems everyone wanted to go to San Francisco for the evening.

I called Heather to let her know I was having a problem. At this point, I'd been quietly seething at my bad luck, but Heather simply said, "Well, there's nothing you can do. Let us know when you make it to the bridge."

Finally, about 20 minutes later, I'd made it the mile or so to the tollbooth and paid my $4. I called again, this time getting Arturo.

"The good news is, I'm past the toll booth. The bad news is, the bridge is a mess."

We finally got moving at a speed higher than 10 miles per hour, and I got across the bridge in more or less one piece. I practiced deep breathing and loud singing to calm myself.

It was 6:30. Our show at Beach Blanket Babylon started at 6:30.

Beyond my obvious excitement to see the show (I've been looking forward to this for a good two or three months), I was also feeling pretty bad that if we missed the show--Heather and Arturo would be out the money they'd spent on three tickets. Gah!

I finally got off the freeway and into their neighborhood. I found a parking spot near the Homie Convention and tottered to their building as fast as I could in my two-inch Steve Maddens.

We quickly left for the club, arriving a little after 7:00. Heather had called the box office but no one had answered, so we had no idea if they'd let us in. We approached the box office and said, "Bridge traffic!" They sent us to a side door and promptly let us in. Within a few minutes, an usher had found our seats and led us by flashlight to them. We were right at the edge of the stage. I actually used the very edge of the stage as an armrest.

The show...well, it was fabulous. Silly, irreverent, and no one is safe from being made into a satire. The costumes are outrageous and the hats...well, you just have to see them to believe them.

The best, by far, is the San Francisco skyline hat:

Despite being quite late for the show, we saw a lot and felt that any more would have been...too much, really.

At this point, we had about thirty minutes to kill before our reservation time at the restaurant, so we had a quick drink at an English-style pub and met up with a friend of Heather and Arturo, Bonnie.

At 9:00 we walked to Indian Oven for my dinner of choice. I had suggested Indian, but it was Heather and Arturo who found the restaurant. And what a choice it was!

Summer and Ben joined us, and the six of us had a fabulous dinner of tikka masala, basatmi rice, nan bread, aloo gobi, and other dishes. Nan bread with mango chutney on it--wonderful! I hadn't had any really good Indian food since I was in England--three years ago.

We absolutely inhaled the food.

Summer and Ben had to leave after this, so the rest of us found our way over to a bar called Martuni's. At first, we debated about staying, as the single men in the place were obviously looking for...other single men. But we got a table in a side room where the piano player was letting people sing. After listening to a few drunken renditions of old Elton John songs, I decided that someone had to liven things up.

I started thumbing through the song books, when a nice man named Brett started helping me figure out to sing.

"It has to be a good song," I explained to him. "I majored in music--it can't be too cliche."

Brett and his companion (don't know if it was his date, boyfriend, or someone he'd just met) boosted my confidence (not that a wine-filled Meg needs much of a boost to get up and do what she loves best--show off the singing voice) and I approached the pianist with my selected song--"Can't Help Lovin' That Man of Mine" from Showboat.

Yes, I was going old school.

The pianist asked me what key I wanted--seeming to think the key it was written in would be too high. For an amateur? Yes. For me? Not so much. I informed the pianist that I majored in music and would not have a problem. He smiled, played the intro, and I immediately noticed he was giving the song a bit of a blues twist and thought to myself, "Oh. Hell. Yeah." Then I started to sing.

If you're not familiar with the song, I can tell you that it is a little bit on the high side, and it has a lot of leaps and skips in the melody, as well as some blues notes added in. For someone who sings for fun...I wouldn't recommend it as a bar song.

But for me? Piece of cake. I was having a blast up there.

My new friends, Brett and Anthony, led the mad cheering along with Heather, Arturo and Bonnie. After most singers, there would be scattered applause. I got cheers. Filled with pride (and just a smidgeon of that little inner voice saying, "You totally rock, girl!!") I returned to my group and accepted the hugs and cheek kisses. As I left the piano, Heather shouted, "Happy Birthday, Megan!!!" The pianist picked up on this and led the whole room in a rousing verse of "Happy Birthday To You."

It was so totally appropriate and awesome for a girl's 30th birthday.

The pianist then started playing "Seasons of Love" from Rent, and asking for someone to come up and sing with him. No one took him up, so I ran back up there and did my part to keep the party rolling.

Shortly after this, we were ready to go home, so I said my goodbyes to my new buddies, Brett and Anthony, and we left the bar. I smiled and giggled all the way to the car.

I slept over at Heather and Arturo's place, which was great, as no one ever wants to drive from San Francisco to Stockton in the wee small hours of the morning. I woke up at about 9:30, and within a few minutes, Heather poked her head into the guest room and offered me some tea. We had a lovely breakfast and I set off for home at about noon.

You might notice there are no pictures--I was having so much fun, I never got my camera out! We did, this morning, lament that it would have been fun to get a picture of me singing at the bar.

What an evening! It was truly a fitting way to usher in my thirties.

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