A Weekend to Remember

Wow! I turned 52 on Memorial Day. While I have always loved my birthday, this one was extra special…and most memorable.

On Saturday, I flew to Los Angeles with a friend. She was my “plus one” for another friend’s wedding on Monday, because my husband needed to stay home to make sure our teenage daughter prepared for final exams at school.

We flew home Tuesday, but we still haven’t stopped talking about the wedding reception!  The bride is someone I met in LA a couple of years ago, and she is gorgeous on a regular day, but she was positively radiant on her wedding day, which also happened to be her birthday too! And I’m sure she will remember it for the rest of her life as well.

I remember when she got engaged. I remember she said these words to me, “I hope you’re ready for a big African wedding!” And honestly, I was flattered to be invited. She is a special lady who loves looking out for others and making other people happy. She is Nigerian, and her new husband is as well. Have you ever been to a Nigerian wedding? If you haven’t, you’re missing out. I can’t believe it took me 52 years to have that fabulous experience! There was so much to take in: the incredible handmade dresses of fine fabrics and beautiful colors; the culinary delights of the food; the African music we had never heard, but all the Nigerians knew every beat and every word; the exciting processions of both families and different groups associated with the bride and groom; the DJ who worked the crowd; the love of the families; the dancing! I could never write a description that would do it all justice, but I can say we met some lovely people and had an incredibly memorable experience. And I got to see my sweet friend get married. She and her new husband look so peacefully happy with each other.

Before the reception, I had wondered what food would be served. I was hoping I would get to have some Nigerian food, and I was not disappointed! For first course, we were offered an option of Peppered Goat Soup or Yam Porridge. I consulted with the bride’s cousin, who was seated next to me, and she steered us toward the Yam Porridge…spicy and mellow all in one bowl. It was fantastic, but I wanted to make sure I had room for the other courses, so I ate about 3/4 of the bowl. For the entree, we had a choice of five different things, and the cousin recommended the Fried Rice, Moi Moi, Assorted Meats and Plantains. I think Meg (my plus one) and I surprised the cousins by eating so well! The fried rice had a little kick to it, while the plantains added a little sweetness. And the meats…chicken and I think, goat ribs…incredible spices. We dined like queens!

If you ever watched The Wonder Years, you might remember the episode titled Birthday Boy, in which Paul (the main character’s best friend and neighbor) has his Bar Mitzvah on Kevin’s (the main character) birthday. I don’t remember everything about the episode, but I do remember Kevin was a little envious of Paul’s family traditions and history. Listening to Paul’s grandfather talk about his own Bar Mitzvah had Kevin wondering about his own family history…and I get it. Being at my friend’s big Nigerian wedding made me think of that episode of The Wonder Years. I found myself looking on in awe at how these lovely people had managed to hang on to Nigerian traditions in the United States. The people are American, but they remember their African heritage…and I loved every minute of it.

I will likely never have another experience like it. If it took me 52 years to be able to experience it once, it’s not likely I will get to do it again. But I will always remember it. I wish my daughter could have gone. I wish she could have experienced it. I learned a lot, and the bride’s cousins answered all my questions, even though it had to be difficult to hear me, since I can’t talk above a whisper with laryngitis. They were so kind and patient while I tried to ask my questions about details.

So yes, I had a happy birthday…it was fantastic. Most of all, I am grateful to my friend for inviting me to celebrate her new marriage with her…a happy birthday, indeed!

Advertisements

Cruisin’ The Highway With The 80s

I love Sirius XM Radio. And I especially love a channel called 80s on 8. It plays the music of my teenage years. Most of the time, when I’m in my car, I have a teenage daughter in the car with me, and she plays her music. Yeah…sometimes I pull rank and tell her she has to listen to my music in my car, but most of the time, I don’t care.

But when I’m in the car alone, it’s all 80s, all the time. Seriously…SiriusXM is one of my favorite things. If you don’t have Sirius XM Radio in your car or in your home, you’re missing out. You can see their website for more information here.

Last week, I drove to Duluth, Georgia, from Charlotte, NC, for a Harry Styles concert. Originally, my friend, Mary Ann, was taking her 8-yr-old daughter, but the daughter decided she had “outgrown” Harry Styles, so I went. I offered to purchase two extra tickets for my 14-yr-old daughter and a friend, but they didn’t want to go. (Now she wishes she had gone.)

That meant I got to drive to Duluth alone. It’s a 3 1/2 hour drive. I’m rarely alone for 3 1/2 hours. I left Charlotte around noon Monday. It took me about 20 minutes to get from my house to I-85 South, but when I hit the interstate, I was ready for some of my tunes…the tunes I never get to listen to in my own car.

I could say I listened calmly all the way to Georgia, but I’d be lying. I was so excited to get to listen to 80s music for a few hours. I pretended I was a teenager again. The songs on the 80s on 8 channel are introduced by the original MTV VJs, so it’s easy to feel like I’m reliving my youth. Nina Blackwood, Mark Goodman, and Alan Hunter introduced and gave me the background on songs on my whole drive. Martha Quinn chimed in every now and then with some trivia. I cranked up the tunes and opened the sunroof. In the first two hours, I was transported back in time with tunes from Loverboy, Van Halen, Rick Springfield, Madonna, Def Leppard, and J Geils Band, to name a few.

I’m sure a few truckers were entertained as this crazy 51-yr-old lady drove past with the radio blaring through the open sunroof. Maybe I shouldn’t mention I was singing along as much as I could. That means I was probably singing a lot of “misheard lyrics.” I’ve never been good with lyrics. I’m the person who, at the age of nine in 1976, thought the Eagles sang, “He was two-timing naked; she was too tired to fight about it,” in Life In The Fast Lane. How did a nine-yr-old come up with that?! The actual line is, “He was too tired to make it; she was too tired to fight about it.” Either way makes sense, though. Someone could have been two-timing naked.

There are some song lyrics I definitely know, but I’ve always had trouble with the lyrics to songs by the Gogos. Somehow, they just don’t enunciate clearly in their songs, so I end up making up a lot of lyrics…or humming along. I recently saw a book titled, “Hum If You Don’t Know The Words,” and I loved that title, because I do that a lot with songs. My daughter hates it.

But I knew the words to Lovin’ Every Minute of It (Loverboy), Material Girl (Madonna), Jesse’s Girl (Rick Springfield), Panama (Van Halen), and Love Stinks (J Geils Band), so I sang along, and I sang loudly.

When some of the songs came on, I laughed or smiled, because I remembered some story that went along with the song…something that had happened in high school or college. Any Duran Duran song makes me immediately think of my friend, Jill, from high school. The girl was obsessed with Duran Duran, and for good reason…they were an awesome band. Even my daughter and her friends like them now; in fact, tonight, one friend wanted to hear Union of the Snake while we were going to Target. Duran Duran videos were all the rage on MTV. I remember rushing home to watch the world premier of the video for The Reflex. Ooh…and Michael Jackson videos…we all went crazy over those too. Back in the 80s, Jill and I even had MTV t-shirts before everyone else. Her mother worked at the local cable company, and she had access to MTV paraphernalia when other people didn’t. I wore mine till it was threadbare. And don’t we all remember the slogan, “I want my MTV!” Lots of those t-shirts could be seen all over the US in the 80s.

 

Listening to those VJs also reminded me of how much I wanted to be a VJ when I was a teenager…a funny thought, because I have limited music knowledge. I guess I thought I’d grow up, get an audition, and once I got the gig, I’d meet every rock star who came through the MTV studios. You have to admit, though, it would have been fun. Of course, MTV already had a southern VJ, as Alan Hunter is from Birmingham. But Martha Quinn had it going on…boys wanted to date her, and girls wanted to be her. She seemed like a nice girl who could actually be your friend, and she had the coolest job ever.

As I arrived at the hotel, Milli Vanilli came on. The song? Baby, Don’t Forget My Number. I love that song. In fact, I loved Milli Vanilli. Yes, there was the scandal. I guess those two guys were just pretty faces, but I sure liked watching those pretty faces on the video. Sadly, Milli Vanilli fell apart after the lip-sync scandal broke. I have no idea who was actually singing on those songs, but I like Baby, Don’t Forget My Number; Blame It On The Rain; and Girl You Know It’s True. When I think of Milli Vanilli, I think of my friends, Chris and Susan, from college. I introduced them to each other, and they later married. They really liked Milli Vanilli.

So I got to Duluth safe and sound that afternoon and met Mary Ann at the hotel. We met my other friend, Meredith, and her daughter at the arena, and a good time was had by all. I knew a few of the songs Harry Styles sang, and I faked it on the others. I have to admit it was a good show. It was pretty tame, aside from the screaming, but he is quite the entertainer, and he seems to enjoy what he’s doing. He was also grateful to the fans. I like performers who seem genuinely grateful. Plus, he’s kind of dreamy looking, even if I am old enough to be his mother.

 

After the concert, Mary Ann and I tried to go to Waffle House, but it was too crowded. We ended up, instead, at a place called Georgia Diner on Pleasant Hill Road. We weren’t expecting much, but we were pleasantly surprised. The service was outstanding, and the servers were very personable. The food was really good…Mary Ann had an omelet, and I had the Ste. Marie Chicken…delicious. I strolled over to look in the dessert case, and the cakes looked incredible, but swimsuit season is here, so I didn’t get any cake. You can see their website and menu here.

We went back to the hotel and slept a few hours before I headed back to Charlotte. It was time for some 80s tunes again, and I loved every minute of it. If only they had played some Bobby Brown; then, my 80s journey would have been complete for the day. And maybe some New Kids On The Block. I liked them too, back in the day, even though I was really too old to like them.

The 80s were a great decade. MTV actually played music. We made mix-tapes. We passed notes in class. The Rubix Cube came along. Arcades were awesome gathering places. John Hughes films echoed the lives of teens everywhere.

My daughter said to me the other day, “I wish I had lived in the 80s.” I told her it was certainly a great decade, but then said, “But you are living in a great time. We didn’t have cellphones or laptops back then, and you couldn’t rewind TV shows with the DVR. If you missed a line, you just missed it.” She nodded, but I could tell she still thought the 80s were great.

This decade is great too, but still…I WANT MY MTV!