I got a Ferrari!
Also: a golden unicorn (head only; not real gold), a gold pocket watch (real gold!); The New York Times Essential Guide to Grilling (and a certificate for a grill!); a 1000-piece New Yorker cartoon jigsaw puzzle (beautifully wrapped and perfect for regifting, it being the thought that counts); number 11-of-40 of a limited edition Asher Levine outfit (here’s an example of his remarkable work) — “beachwear” I could not have pulled off even at 25 but will enjoy trying on for my friends to laugh at; two orchids I am determined not to kill (did I ever tell you about the astonishing giant silk orchid I inherited? that I always admired on my mom’s windowsill — it never lost a leaf — so I put it in a windowless hallway and got lots of compliments — what a beautiful orchid! — and then it died! It hadn’t been fake after all! I still can’t believe it!); and a dry-ice packed dinner-for-two flown up from Joe’s Stone Crabs, complete with crabs, mallet, tiny-forks, bibs, cole slaw (Joe’s cole slaw will change your life), creamed spinach (so rich it could end your life), New England clam chowder, and a key lime pie (worth dying from the spinach for, because one slice of Joe’s key lime pie and you feel, at least, as though you’ve gone to heaven).
And I got a surprise party!
Not a surprise like my 30th, when I was genuinely surprised.
(It was at the apartment of the love of my life who had swapped me out for — well, I couldn’t blame him, but it was not my idea of fun to be feted at the home of my ex and my replacement.)
And not a surprise like my 40th, when I was totally mind-blowingly surprised — brilliantly thrown off the scent by a kind of lame “fake” surprise party on my actual birthday, so that when, a few days later, I got home from a diversionary trip to find the whole house decorated and filled with friends from all over, I was completely and entirely coulda-burst-into-tears-but-managed-not-to flabbergasted.
Nor a surprise like my 50th, to which Charles had sent out beautiful misspelled invitations (“SUPRISE!”), that I got wind of early on — though it was pretty great.
Nor a surprise like my 60th — the surprise there being that there wasn’t one. Which made more sense.
Indeed, not a surprise at all, technically speaking, because various people over the previous weeks had told me how sorry they were that they wouldn’t be able to make it. (“Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead.”)
But even though I knew to save the night, I had no idea what or where or who it would be — and when a car arrived, I got in, kind of assuming it would take me to Brooklyn. Right? Or New Jersey, maybe? Instead, it stopped at a familiar address on 17th Street. No one was downstairs but the door was unlocked and I climbed the stairs preparing to act surprised . . . a lot of stairs for a 70-year-old, but I pretend to be younger . . . and was surprised! There was the couple who’d sent the Stone Crabs up from Miami, and there were a couple who’d texted to say happy birthday “from London,” and there were . . . well, I don’t want to brag, but it was only the nicest crowd of people ever assembled. With videos on a giant movie screen, a sushi bar, a guy with a microphone in his lapel seemingly oblivious to the party reading a book (was he the event manager? why was he reading a book in the middle of my party?) that turned out to be my book — you couldn’t hear it above the music (maybe at first, before it filled up?), but so diligent! He just kept his head down, slogging through for three hours, past the part where I swung at a wild pitch on a three-two count at the top of the ninth (I’ve never been great under pressure) and past . . . well, who knows? no one could hear him, but it was a great touch. As were the stacks of toilet paper purchased in bulk, with $70 wrappers around each (if you don’t know whose face is on the $70 bill, now you do). And margaritas! And — this was hysterical — the same photographer the DNC uses at all its fundraisers, following me around the entire night. (Hi, Beatrice!) It was very democratic.
How did they even find so many of my friends to invite? WikiLeaks?
There were no camels — one of my b-school pals imported camels and acrobats to his recent 70th — but do you know what? I don’t think even camels could have made the party any better. Though it would have been interesting watching them attempt to climb all those stairs.
So here’s the thing about turning 70. It’s great. If you’re fortunate enough to have your health — which along with friends and a decent internet connection are all that matter — it’s just the best, because it’s like the first day of school. I am now officially the youngest old guy around. The envy of 73-year-olds, 80-year-olds, 91-year-olds, 102-year-olds.
The Sixties were an amazing decade in which to reach adulthood; but one’s own sixties?
Speaking here only in terms of branding, there’s just no way to make an age starting with the word “sixty” sound young. But seventy? And with a party like that to kick it off? And three-quarters of Joe’s key lime pie still in my freezer? And readers like you?
Thank you, thank you, thank you.