The thing about a lot of kids at a 70-year-old's birthday party is that they are so full of life: running around, playing games made up on the spot, yelling, goofing, giggling, making friends with each other, being good AND bad, getting in trouble, causing bedlam, always being real.
Grown-ups see this an
d guess what? They forget they are in a social situation with many p
eople that they do not know, where polite conversation is required, where there are certain standards of behavior to observe, where everything certainly does NOT go.
They begin to lighten up. You can almost see adult cares and proprieties abandoning ship and being replaced by smiles. And soon the smiles turn to laughter. Then normal, responsible adults start acting like, well, kids. And wit
h over a hundred kids running around, little ones and big ones, and with so much noisy chatter, the party is soon completely out of control.
But what takes over is lots of love and happiness. And that is what this birthday boy saw and felt. Take this series of pictures of me and my niece Nanci, who flew in from California. We see each other for the first time. We rush toward each other. We wrap ourselves in each other's a
There had been a lot of rain in the days before the party and rain was threatening that morning. Fortunately, I was able to make the sun come out at exactly two in the afternoon and we were able to be out on the deck and also under the tent in the driveway.
Marty Griff, my opponent in tennis and in life, told me and told me that if it rained I would be in deep doo-doo "in that little house of yours." He used a different word for doo-doo. He is shown below left along with two other tennis friends, Jim Kane, the tall one, and Joge Tsang, right. I'm the good-looking one. When my daughter, Misha, was having so much fun that she forget to videotape the party, Jim stepped in and did so. He produced a terrific video. Thank you, Jim!
Surprisingly, Marty was on his best behavior. While everybody else was acting like a kid, he was acting like an adult. I kept wondering when he was going to cause trouble, but he never did. But then I realized why. His beautiful and feisty wife Christina was there keeping a watchful eye on him.
ought with her a wonderful, creative gift that she made herself, a one-of-a-kind tennis racquet. It is is pictured here, complete with bandaids and a package of Aleve for the aches and pains of an aging tennis player. Thank you, Christina!
Another creative tennis-themed gift came from Barbie Bell, who has been family ever since I took her and my niece Linda to New York City when they were both 12. They had never been to the big city. I'll never forget their wide eyes and oohs and aahs as they looked up at the tall buildings and took in all the noise, bustle, and grandeur of a great city. What they
have never forgotten was how I let them play three-card monte on the sidewalk and lose their spending money!
Barbie turned tennis balls into my age, 70, shown here. Along with the tennis balls, she wrote the following:
These balls represent some of the best parts of your life ...
-- They're round and have come full circle.
-- They're extremely Bright. (Don't say anything, Marty)
-- They're firm and full of bounce, yet a bit soft and fuzzy.
They may help you win the game on the court, but it's your LOVE that has won us all over.
Game! Set! Match!
Tennis players Billy Gibbons, Ed hippert, Rich Pyle, and Bob Smith also made time to stop by. Billy Gibbons is the unofficial mayor of Worcester's sports scene. He is in the paper all the time and I have been begging him to get my name in. So far, nothing. At the party, I tried to get my picture taken with him, but he kept slipping away. Bummer.
Ed is the winning tennis coach at St. John's in Shrewsbury. He is a student of the game. And what he teaches his players, he practices on the court. He plays classic doubles. It was good to see him -- and hear him on the video.
Rich Pyle is a new member of our tennis group. A marathon runner as well as a fine tennis player, he is in great shape, looks too young, and has more hair than this birthday boys thinks is fair. On top of that, he is a genuinely nice guy -- at least for now, before Marty Griff ruins him.
Bob Smith is a longtime winner of tennis tournaments. Years ago as a junior, he won the Holden Towers singles championship six years in a row, not to mention other titles in both singles and doubles. The day after the party, he and Lou Farber beat Al Kurlan and me in doubles. Frankly, I thought that was not a nice thing to do the day after my birthday party. (In the photo, Al is the little grey-haired head appropriately in Marilyn's shadow.)
Asjed Jalil also came by with his wife. It was especially good to see him since he is struggling physically and has not been able to play tennis. Doctors are not sure what is wrong. We are all pulling for him as he undergoes tests to get to the root of what is keeping him off the tennis court.
David Jacques was there because we made him come. He called me and said he was injured, hurting, and could hardly get in and out of a car. He, the iron man of the group, really was hurting. His injured leg was all bound up, making it hard for him to walk.
I told him that that was no excuse and that we would pick him up at home, drive him to the party, and carry him in and out. He thought I wasn't serious. But I immediately called Jim Kane who tightened the screws. Dave came and we all jumped on him for playing too much and asking for an overuse injury.
With his wife Bev looking on approvingly, we literally read him the riot act. I won't go into that here, but Jim Kane captured it all on tape in his video. Dave went away apologizing to all and promising never to overplay ever again. He will be supervised by Marty Griff.
Bill, Tracy, and Tyler Murray came up from Nantucket for the party. No 70th party would have been right without these longtime friends. Not that Bill behaves any better than Marty Griff. He doesn't. When I introduced him as an old friend, he said with unmistakeable weariness, "Yeah, we've known him for sixty years."
When I apologized for having to leave him to talk to other guests, saying, "You know, Bill, it's all about me today and there's only so much of me to go around," he said, with a completely straight face, "Tell me, how is that different from every other day?"
The Mosebachs, Bob and Donna and their son Michael and fiancee Danielle, came up from Connecticut. For several years, we shared a home on Hidden Lake in Higganum, Ct. and I knew Michael, Bobby, and Kelly when they were little kids. Now they're all grown up and working and getting married. Time does pass, doesn't it? Bob sang at our wedding, which was at home on the stone patio I built overlooking Hidden Lake.
I thought he might bring his guitar and sing at the party, but he came minus guitar. I soon found out why. He is now a full-time professional singer with a full schedule of gigs in Connecticut and beyond. He didn't want the party to be just another day at the office. I don't blame him.