Birthday week begins

I remember a time in which the Great Birthday Coincidence was a novelty, a source of joking amongst Jeff’s family. “What, Jeff’s birthday is the 16th, his sister’s [Lori’s] is the 18th, and this new girl’s birthday is the 20th? All in October? That’s convenient. Guess you’ll just have one big cake then.”(Yes, once, I was “the new girl.”)

We did, and we do. By my count, this is the ninth set of birthdays we’ve spent together, enough so that it becomes harder and harder to remember what came before, harder for me to see the 20th without the 16th. The third week in October is our week. Today we’ll make the best of the fading summer, putting on our shorts and our short-sleeved shirts for what we know will be one of the last few times of the season, and tiptoe out for an early lunch before the church crowd descends on every restaurant in town.

Our birthdays are generally fuss-free affairs; my request for a party this year was unusual. In the past few years, we’ve fallen away from the pretense of gift-giving. If we know that we’re each going to have to buy something for the other within a four-day time span, we rationalized, why don’t we each instead buy the item we want, call it our birthday present, and wink when we thank the spouse for the perfect gift that was, surprise surprise, exactly what we wanted!

* * * * *

Last night, I sat on the couch and knitted frantically on a project that I need done by next weekend; Jeff indulged his new hobby of contra dancing. He came back breathless and amused, plopping down on the couch and staring at the TV momentarily before saying, “Oh, Seven Brides For Seven Brothers is on?”

“Yeah. I needed some background noise while I knitted, and it’s not like I haven’t seen this before.”

“True.”

“You know, I’d been thinking about putting in Pride and Prejudice after you got home. Remember all the dancing sequences? I wonder if those dances have anything in common with the contra dancing you’re doing now?”

We, of course, got sucked in, for that is the nature of the BBC’s miniseries-length production of P&P, and we rejoiced yet again in the sharp-yet-civil tongue of Eliza Bennet before eventually making snacks and remembering, yes, weren’t we settling in to watch this for the dance sequences?

(It turns out, I might add, that American contra dancing is a folk dance that is derived from, but less formal than, the English formal dancing we were seeing on screen. Jeff pointed out many moves that were incredibly similar to the ones he performed just a few hours earlier. I felt all shiny and smart for thinking of the connection. Chances are, it’s my one intellectual moment of the week, and it’s all probably fart jokes and downhill from here.)

* * * * *

Today, we clean. The master bedroom needs a tidy-up before Brian can use it next weekend for DCTV interview filming, and the shower in the master bathroom needs a scrub-up anyhow. Detritus, really; the odds and ends that must be righted and aligned when we know that about thirty of our closest friends are descending, cicada-like, on our house in five days’ time.

I’ve come to love this week. When I was younger, and the only person I knew born in October was the cousin that I saw once every few years, I began to think of the week of my birthday as ‘my’ week. Now I have a much better excuse.

Today’s music: Madeleine Peyroux. Sunday morning jazz. Yum.

Comments

Happy Birthday, Jeff. [Hey Amy ... pull my finger.] I had no idea Jeff was dancing. I think I need to see this. :)

I think overall you would be pretty disappointed, Geof. It's not like I'm doing tangos or anything. :) The best way I can describe contra is that it shares a lot of common elements with square dancing, except it's done in long lines instead of squares. There's a pretty good description here. That being said, I've been surprised at how well I've picked it up. My second contra dance night was in Atlanta with some friends there who do it regularly (many of you have met Aaron and Joyce). Joyce was my partner for one dance, and she mentioned that she would not have guessed that it was only my second time. I've still got a lot of improvement to make, but I've picked it up fairly well. Actually, I'm probably going to post about it on Sliding Constant at some point soon. I had been kind of holding off mentioning it until I was sure I was going to stick with it. I'm pretty sure at this point. :)

Conta-dancing is probably a lot like the English country dancing we do in the SCA. Yet one more excuse to check it out. ;-)

Eeyore: From what I can tell in my reading, contra is indeed a direct descendent of English country dancing. Google helped me find a timeline that traces from one to the other. I found it interesting to look at when things moved from proper to improper formation and when the swing figure was introduced. This stuff is on my brain. I'm definitely going to have to post about it tonight. :)

I figure most people have found it already, but the full post on my new hobby is here.
October 16, 2005