What I Did For My Birthday

A lot of you know that this week was my birthday. I turned,, er.. 38. 28? 3? 23? (extra credit if you get the movie reference) Anyway, I will say it. I turned 56. There! I feel. well, nothing much at all, in fact. This past weekend I decided to make it all about wheels: I went a museum in Oxnard called the Mullin Collection who was having a show of French cars focusing on the Citroen brand. I don’t think the brand ever really made inroads into the US, because although the cars were (at least the DS) gorgeous space-aged looking things, they were also devilishly complicated at a time when most cars were as technologically forward-thinking as a skateboard but still managed to miss having things that Americans considered every-day items. Like air conditioners that could keep ice cream frozen on a hot day and doohickies that made sure you didn’t strain an elbow having to crank a vent window open. Sunday was the annual Father’s day Concours on Rodeo, which this year had 50k visitors in some unseemly heat. I went early since high heat and crowds make me want to bite people.

Of course a birthday would not be a birthday with a little scent as a present. So I decided to purchase something that I had had and loved but almost run out of: Uncle Serge’s Serge Noire. Back in the day on PST I wrote “there’s something a little melancholy about it, something contemplative. It seemed to fade in and out on me, like listening to the radio at night at the shore: something from a ballroom in New York and the signal gains and loses strength as the clouds pass over the brightly starred sky. Or perhaps from the dance under the big tent as you steal away to the beach for a walk along the shore. You can see the Bioluminescence in the surf, almost as bright as the stars in the sky, stars that you never see in the city The air is warm with the smell of woods and the remnants of bonfires, but still has a trace of a chill (finally, the menthol) reminding you that summer is nearly over and another year has gone by. There you stroll, your shoes in one hand, perhaps a drink in the other, your toes in the cool coarse sand, the warm hint of patch seems like a reminder of reckless, feckless youth.

Since I did have the last few drops of my previous bottle I’ve spent the last few days wearing it and it still does have that effect. Perhaps even more so since nearly 10 years has gone by since I wrote those words. Sixty is no longer a vicious rumor and although summer in Los Angeles is in full swing, my chronological autumn is nigh (I can tell myself I am middle-aged, but really how many 120 year olds do I know?) So the psychic resonance of that putative stroll along the beach, dinner jacket slightly damp, pleasantly warmed by memories and conviviality but knowing that winter is coming is a little more pronounced.

Not to say that I am down in the depths (on the first, not the 90th floor..) I have my health, I had loads of lovely people reach out to wish me a happy day, and I have my friends, a job and a roof over my head. I even got birthday wishes in the local paper and from the dais at City Hall from Mayor Bosse, which is pretty darned cool for a kid from Western Massachusetts. I get to natter on about something I like, love or loathe in the pages of this blog and nobody has told me to shut the he)) up yet. My real birthday dinner will be at a friends house next week, when the gang will get together, have snacks and play board games, and I couldn’t be more tickled.

So for my birthday I am going to mark my blessings, at least one of which is the fact that Uncle Serge still makes Serge Noire and I can be transported to that beach..

Serge Noire is $150 these days for the export bottle. Like the one I have the dregs of, this was purchased at Barneys
Image: Internets.

  • Ann says:

    Happy, happy birthday!! Hope you’ve enjoyed it all week and weekend! Enjoy your lovely SL treat to yourself — those are the best gifts –and enjoy dinner with your friends!

  • Lisa D says:

    Happy Birthday, and kudos for smelling wonderful. I bought a bottle of Serge Noire after somebody sent me a sample, I dumped it on my wrists, and found myself hours later surrounded by the MOST gorgeous incense. I liked the first hour or two well enough, but at some later point in its development it turned crazy beautiful on me.

    Have a fantastic birthday dinner with your friends!

  • Maggiecat says:

    Happy Birthday! You’re younger than I am, and we still have a lot of good times left. Enjoy your SO and celebrate your blessings.

  • Kate E. says:

    Happy Birthday! Your posts are always a pleasure to read.

  • Maya says:

    A very Happy Birthday from someone who grew up in eastern CT. Age, to a certain extent, really is just a number until the number gets much higher. Then it’s “OMG when did this happen?” You can however gently let that go while keeping your fun, childlike joy of life. Have a lovely party!

  • AnnJune says:

    Happy Birthday Tom! I turned 56 last week (and am also in central/western MA ; ). I also couldn’t care less about it this year.. although am dreading 60 already. Loved your description of the Serge Noire. I remember trying this when it came out and liked it, but never followed through. Will have to see if I can dig out the sample or order a new one. Many happy returns of the day to you!

  • Kathleen Smith says:

    Happy Birthday! Nothing better than celebrating with your favorite people, appreciating life and your health, and treating yourself to a favorite perfume!

  • Shivawoman says:

    I’m in N. Cali, and love hearing about your So Cal adventures (my mother’s beloved homeland). I just wanted to say I’m 49 and what you wrote resonates with me. Though Serge Noire goes a bit masculine for my tastes, I do wear it on occasion, and I recently purchased a back-up bottle from Fragrancenet since I’m hearing of reorganization at SL (I get some stuff direct from France, but I’ve had good luck with a couple on-line retailers). Your description of yore is absolutely beautiful, lovely, and, as I read I thought how well you evoked the mood that SN elicits for me. I’ve always had a hard time describing the scent itself, and it’s not one of his most popular, but I like that one and L’Orpheline though my favorites are his heavier hitting orientals and Bois line. Happy belated birthday, a very special day indeed!

  • tiffanie says:

    Many happy returns of the day!