I normally don't make much hoopla about birthdays. Three years ago I had just gotten to the fleet out in 29 Palms, and for my birthday I got my ass beat, you know, standard boot stuff (for the record, it was NOT hazing, just good natured pink-belly stuff, settle down). Two years ago I was in Iraq, where, since I was no longer a boot, the guys were scared to pink belly me because they knew I was going to put up a fight. So they called a fake QRF mission while my squad was on QRF, so when I ran out I was gang tackled by about 5 of them and held down... pretty standard. Last year I was in Afghanistan, and actually forgot about it on the day of it, thinking it was only the 25th, until Clay, God bless him, wished me a Happy Birthday and I looked at him like he was an idiot. Turns out the idiot was THIS guy. It actually turned out to be pretty sweet, because Toby Keith flew out to do a concert for me, and the proceeded to duck and run when the base got bombed during his show. I've got a video of that scene.
So this year I was pretty much just excited to be in the States with my friends. I hadn't had a birthday here with the South Bay crew, so I was kind of chomping at the bit to get out. Saturday night was the standard fare, aka I went to the establishments around 3 ish and went straight through, placing Lakers bets and downing Fanta Shots. Sunday I woke up face down on Joe's couch, regretting everything I poured into my mouth the night before.
I drove up to Pasadena, thankful for light traffic, only to find Indra on her deathbed, sick with the swine flu (expertly diagnosed by myself). That situation did nothing to fix my hangover. I spent most of the day annoying her by watching "Deadliest Warrior" reruns on Spike TV, which I wouldn't recommend wasting your time with. I figured that later in the afternoon she'd pull herself together and we'd go grab some dinner, but instead she told me to throw jeans and boots on, and before I knew it, I was riding a horse through the Hollywood hills with some of my best friends, and finishing up with some pretty serious bbq and margaritas.
I'll go ahead and preempt all the "Jake riding horses" comments. Yes, I look ridiculous on a horse. Yes, my horse looked at me before I mounted and had this look in her eyes that said, "are you kidding me?". No, her name was not Brokeback Mountain (it was actually Margarita, which could only have been better if it was Miller Lite). No, it was not a clydesdale. Yes, I would recommend a jockstrap next time. Yes, I would consider myself an EXPERT rider, along the lines of Kevin Costner in "Dances with Wolves". And yes, it brought back my childhood desire to be a cowboy, so we can go ahead and add cowboy to the 'to-do' list, alongside pirate hunting, for the next year and a half.
Thank you for all the well wishes.