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Craig's 30th

Remember Woolworth’s? The old-fashioned five and dime. They had their heyday in the fifties. Back in 1980, the one in Austin was a tired old store on Red River down near 5th street. In January, they had a Going-Out-of-Business sale.

I drove down in my old MGB with my friend Colette. It was one of those fine sunny winter days we have here in Texas, and I had put the top down. I was explaining to Colette that Craig’s 30th birthday was coming up that week. She asked me what we were doing.

I said Craig didn’t much care about birthdays. He hates birthday parties, especially for him, doesn’t like cakes or decorations or presents or fuss, or people singing Happy Birthday. He doesn’t like to be the center of attention.

She said, “So you’re planning a big surprise party with a cake and presents and lots of singing, right?”

I said, “R-i-i-i-i-ght...” What a great idea!

We went straight to the party supply section of Woolworth’s, and there we found big paper tablecloths with clowns on them, cake decorations, party hats, noisemakers, crepe paper, food coloring, and thirty big candles with yellow plastic candleholders.

We bought him presents, too. We bought posters of supermodels, strange hats, toys, and a can of pilchards. We got wrapping paper and ribbon. In all, I think we must have spent about five dollars.

CakeWe invited all the usual suspects, and while Craig was at work the day before the party, Colette came over, and we made a big, sagging, colorfully decorated birthday cake with all the candied trimmings it could hold. We crammed all thirty candles into it and hid it in the laundry room. It's an old Instamatic photo: can you make out the cake?

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