December 7 is known as the “date that will live in infamy” due the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, which catapulted the United States into World War II. It is a date that is remembered every year in the Warren household, as well. Not because of the tragedy in Hawaii, but because it is also the birthday of my husband, Bobby. (Although the two events didn’t occur in the same year — that would be gross to marry someone that much older than me!) However, both events are remembered with traditions. Ceremonies are held at Pearl Harbor each year to honor those who died in the attack. In our home, I do two things each year, as a tradition to celebrate Bobby’s birth. I make a pineapple upside down cake and I write a poem. And while this year wasn’t necessarily a “bash,” I had hoped to make it a good birthday for him.
One of Bobby’s favorite cakes is the pineapple upside down cake. I don’t know when I found this out in our marriage, but it was early on. I had found a recipe in the Joy of Cooking cookbook in the chapter on American desserts. I don’t like pineapple much, although it has grown on me over the years. But you know, you make sacrifices for those you love, which include making them a dessert they’ll enjoy — even if you won’t. So one day, when Bobby was gone, I made him this pineapple upside down cake, which turned into a hit. Since it is from scratch, I don’t make it often. He, however, requests it every year for his birthday. (As I was reading this post to him, he informed me that pineapple upside down cake became his favorite when tasted mine. He said, “I’d never had one taste so good.”)
Though traditionally the cake calls for maraschino cherries to be in the middle of the pineapple rings, this year we didn’t have any. I was going to buy some at the store, but Bobby said he actually didn’t want to fork over the $1.74 for a small jar of cherries. Go figure. He didn’t think they add much to it — although he will admit that it makes the cake look better with them. So this year, no cherries. But I still got the same reaction from Bobby. He loved the cake, which makes me very happy.
Regarding his poem, every year it is a little nerve wracking to me. I always hope that I can come up with words that will mean something to him. That I’ll be able to express in perhaps a different way, how my life is better with him. I also try to weave in some things from our year, so that in future years we’ll be able to get a sense of what occurred. I always seem to be pushing the envelope a little on when I finish the poem. My friend, Judy, has often heard me lament that “this year, I might not be able to get it done on time.” Yet it seems, that every year I do. (This is evidenced by the fact that it is a tradition that keeps going and we have a whole wall of poems.)
But this year … I was really concerned. I had even told Bobby that I was struggling. (He expects the poem each year, so there is no reason to hide that I am writing one.) He calmly said, “You’ll do it.” And he was right. At what I would consider being the 11th hour (i.e. Wednesday, December 6, morning) I was able to scratch out something. He decided I could give him the poem at dinner on the 7th (we were planning on going to Luigi’s in Akron with my parents, Bud/Tom and Dolores). That gave me the whole day on the 7th to edit if needed, and of course, type and frame the poem. On Thursday morning, his birthday, I was sitting in our living room laughing at my poem, thinking it was probably the worst one I had ever written. Yet, like most poems do, it grew on my by the time I had typed it and read it out loud ad nauseam.
With the cake made early in the morning, the poem typed and framed by 4, the only thing left to do was to wait to read it to him at dinner. We drove to Lodi to get my parents and at the last minute decided not to drive to Akron for pizza at Luigi’s. We were all pretty tired, so we stayed within the Village of Lodi. We went to Cruiser’s Restaurant that is on the way out of town on Bank Street. Mom and Dad and I had been there earlier this year for their all-you-can-eat fish dinner. We had all enjoyed that. But Bobby wasn’t with us. So, it would be a new place for him to try.
Cruiser’s has two dining areas. One is at the front and decorated as you would expect a 50’s style diner to look. Their other dining room is off from the main one and it was set up for this Saturday’s Breakfast with Santa. We chose the quieter dining room and it turned out on a Thursday to be just the four of us in that room. I was so happy! It was like we had a private dining room to celebrate Bobby’s birthday.
Turns out the food was just as good as I remembered. In fact, our waitress told us that everything on the menu (except probably the macaroni and cheese) was homemade. Bobby made the announcement that we couldn’t order the same things, though I think we all looked at the country fried steak as an option. Bobby, because he was the birthday boy, got to order the country fried steak with mashed potatoes and hash browns with country gravy.
Dad had the open faced roast beef sandwich with mashed potatoes and broccoli as sides.
Mom got the fried fish and fries with coleslaw.
I chose the chicken parmesean that came with spaghetti …
Before dinner, we took our picture where Santa will be seeing his fans on Saturday. I got to have my picture taken with my favorite guy, thanks to Mom. It was also before dinner that I read Bobby his poem. Turned out he didn’t need me to read it to him over and over before he liked it. He liked the very first time! It caused us both to tear up a little bit — not because it was this great poem, but more because it helps us remember the blessing it is to be together in this life.
I won’t bore you with it, but here is the last stanza, so you know that I’m no Charlotte Brontë. I titled it “My Superman”:
While this poem may seem corny. I am not Dr. Seuss.
I love you more than anything. And that’s nothing but the truth.
As we celebrate this year, my husband and best friend,
I’m glad we are together, because you are my Superman.
.As we were driving home, I asked Bobby if he enjoyed his birthday. “It was perfect. It was nice and quiet, just the way I like.” You can’t get any better compliment than that when you are celebrating the birthday of a man like Bobby.