The Robe

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It was late. I was awakened from my sleep by the unmistakable chorus of beer-bottle caps falling to the pavement, accompanied by the whoops and hollers of youthful, nocturnal intoxication.

Why is it that the young make louder drunks? Why can't they drink like we do and grow thoughtful, silent and melancholy? The digital clock read 2 a.m. It was Thursday morning. My 40th birthday. My partner and I knew something like this would happen as soon as we heard that his cousin's son, a linebacker from the University of Arizona, was heading our way to spend Spring Break with buddies at the beach house next door. But we hoped that the celebration wouldn't really begin until the weekend, by which time I would have been whisked away on a special birthday trip, destination unknown to me but surely far from the revels of the football team and cheerleaders assembling next door.

I put on my robe, a shapeless, aging, chartreuse, plaid-flannel affair tied with a red-plaid sash. My partner hates this robe, but he was asleep—or at least pretending to be—and couldn't offer his opinion. Before I opened the front door, I looked out the window to survey the scene. Cars, primarily SUVs with tires taller than my subcompact, choked the street. Kids stood there in small groups, the streetlights glinting off the beer bottles they held and the ones that rolled at their feet. On the roof of the neighboring house, a small group huddled, calling down to those below. The house itself burned with lights and music.

I was tired. I was cranky. I felt bad about busting the kids' good time, but it WAS Thursday, not Friday or Saturday. I thought about changing into what my mother would call "street clothes" but figured the robe would be more impressive. It was. Silence fell as I walked from group to group, greeting each with "Good morning" and a request for quiet. The power of a newly middle-aged woman in a flannel bathrobe is amazing. I returned to my house and fell asleep.

Happy birthday to me.

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