Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Today is Fred's birthday. He's very upset that he didn't receive a present from my mother. It's all he can think about. He thinks she doesn't love him. Poor Fred. Just kidding, Mom! I told him a gazillion times that I was in charge of getting him a gift on your behalf, but kept the money instead. So stop stressing about it.
Seriously though, Poor Fred. France is like the First Grade. Apparently, or at least where Fred works, the birthday boy or girl is obligated to bring snacks for his or her colleagues. I reminded Fred that it was his birthday; hence, he should be the one treated to cotton candy, jelly beans, and sprinkled with magic dust. However, customs are customs and I'm in no mood to stage a coup. Generally, the birthday person brings croissants, pain au chocolat (“chocolatine” if you're from the South like Fred), and pain au raisin. Those on a popularity campaign bring crepes with all the accoutrements and then stand over a griddle like they’re working an Omelette Bar at El Torito. No thanks. Fred will be brining croissants. Frozen croissants that can defrost in the metro on his way to work.
I recall parents dropping of sheet cakes, cupcakes, and cookies to celebrate my classmates’ birthdays in elementary school. (My parents intentionally had me during the summer to deprive me the joy of being the most popular child in my class for one day out of the year.) While this is similar to what Fred is being pressured to do, I see some difference: (1) Fred is an adult; (2) Fred can’t blame his parents if his snack tastes poorly or is unimaginative; (3) Fred, not his mother or father, is required to (a) buy or create a snack for 50+ people, (b) take it on public transportation for 50 minutes, and (c) set-up a breakfast buffet for and possibly serve his colleagues. Happy Birthday, Fred! Sounds like it's going to be a fun day.
P.S. I’m only slightly joking about Fred bringing frozen croissants. Despite me reminding him many times to do so and even offering to do it for him, Fred did not order in advance his pastries from the boulangerie. This is tantamount to incest in France. I once stopped by the boulangerie-pâtisserie on my way to a dinner party to pick-up a dessert for 8 guests. The boulangerère, gasped, repeated “pour c’est soir”, raised an eyebrow, and scanned the display case before boxing-up 8 pieces of millefeuille (a layered vanilla cream pastry). It was as if I had upset the balance of natural forces in the universe. She's either psychic and knew exactly how many millefeuille she was going to sell that night (they were closing within the hour) or she would have preferred to have thrown them away than sell them to a crass American who had the nerve to presume she could saunter into a pâtisserie and purchase pastries. For the record, there were still 6 sitting there getting stale when I left. Also, last week, the man in front of me placed his special order two days in advance. Maybe they’ll take pity on Fred because it’s his birthday.
[Update: On our way to dinner, the boulangerie was still open. I reminded Fred for the fourth time that he should go in and order his croissants, which he did. And all is well in the world! When we got home, Fred installed some updates on my computer and reconfigured my workspace. I rely on him a lot to do tech related stuff. It's one of his "jobs" in the relationship. Whereas, one of my "jobs" is to remember birthdays, send thank you cards, remind him to pre-order croissants. However, when he maintains our computers it straight forward. He does it, it's done, and I appreciate it. My job is really being a nag. Remember this. Remember that. Do this. Do that. This bugs me. My girlfriend, who has had the same experience brought up a good point, which I've repeated: "I'd rather not be a nag, believe me. I'd prefer you just do it the first time so I don't have to continue reminding you." In the end, however, I guess my job is really just for me. Because Fred wouldn't have been embarrassed if he ended up having to bring frozen croissants, whereas I would have been mortified. I need to adopt his "c'est pas grave" attitude (it's not serious or no big deal).]