I really, really looked forward to turning 40. I had had two serious near brushes with death and turning 40 would feel as if I was the winner! I woke up the morning of my 40th birthday happy and excited. I was ''40'! What a fantastic feeling. I had gotten up very early to bake a birthday cake to take to work. I wrote "HAPPY BIRTHDAY, PENNY" and put a big '40' in the middle of the cake. And then I took the cake and hustled off to work.
I put the cake in the coffee room and went and told everyone to go get a piece of it to eat with their morning coffee. The usual procedure when someone had a birthday was to take the person out to lunch. But going out to lunch was difficult for me, because it involved a great, big amount of walking. I did a lot of walking during a typical day and if I added 'out to lunch' walking my legs would be exhaustd by the time that the day was over. So, I had told everyone that I would rather not do the typical thing and explained why. There was a faction of the group that weren't very happy with me because more than a few of them used birthday lunches as a reason to make happy hour start with lunch hour. I thought that maybe the gift of early morning sugar rush might appease them a bit. Boy did I screw that one up. By lunch time I had five women in my office. They wanted to have a private chat with me. The point of their concern was that I was making a fool of myself. "A woman does not advertise that she is turning 40," I was told. I tried to see their side of the issue, but for the life of me I found no problem with the men that I worked with knowing how old I was. They were all about the same age or older so what was the big deal. "Women are not supposed to advertise their age?" Advertise!!! I would have been willing to stand on the roof of the building with a microphone and tell everyone driving down Pacific Coast Hwy how happy I was to turn 40. They found no humor in me. They eventually left, shaking their heads. They had tried, but there was no dealing with a womanthat blatantly exposed herself to ridicule. I decided that the So Cal sunshine must have baked their brains. Either that or the Hollywood youth culture had found some willing supplicants. At any rate, they didn't change my attitude about turning 40 and I went about my day telling every man I met, "Congratulate me, I turned 40 today!" I had such a great day. The men thought it was hilarious and that particular group of women stayed away from me for most of what was left of the day. Made for a really fun day.
That night a group of my friends gave me a birthday party. They had asked my parents if they could use the pool and of course my mother loved the idea. My mom and dad had the most fabulous pool. Mom had designed it herself and it had a very unusual shape. More curves and steps than most pools. Mom wanted to be able to step out of one of the bedrooms right into the pool so there were steps leading right from the glass sliding doors. You could put on your bathing suit, walk down those steps and be in 8' of water. It was lovely to those of us that knew it was 8' at that end, but there were a lot of women that had no intention of getting their hair wet that ended on the bottom of the pool when they stepped off that last step. My mother loved it. She used to get up early in the morning and walk out of that glass sliding door and walk down those steps stark naked. We all knew she did it. But that was just mom! She loved that pool more then she loved anything else that I can remember. Mom and pop used it for a gigantic water bed, too. One summer they had sex in the pool so much that they both got an infection from the treated water. My father was mortified, but my mother thought it was hilarious and proceeded to tell all of us. Every time that she had to take an antibiotic she would remind us WHERE she got the infection and how much fun she had getting it. My father, on the other hand, would quietly leave the room shaking his head. Boy did I get off track. Thinking about the pool and how much fun we used to have around it took me totally away from what I originally intended to write.
My 40th birthday party! There about 50 of myfriends there. My dad had set up the bar-b-que and mom had baked all day. My parents loved giving pool parties and they had decorated the complete poolside. Everything was beautiful. About half way through the evening, after everyone had eaten, the people in the pool decided to have a pool volleyball game. All the men against all the women. We had so much fun. The men had to go to the deep end so natually the women won.
My date stayed in the pool after the game. I got out and went over and poured coffee for everyone. I was carrying two cups of coffee over to the men that had stayed in the pool when some of the men that had gotten out of the pool were stricken with a brilliant idea. I noticed that my man friend had moved over to the side of the pool closest to me, so I headed in his direction. He had his arms up on the decking and was just about to reach up and take the coffee I was offering when the men behind me yelled, "Happy Birthday" and attacked. They scooped me up and lifted me up over their heads yelling and yahooing as men are apt to do when they are playing 'we Tarzan, you Jane'. Could have been a woman's ultimate fantasy taking shape here, but that wasn't exactly what they had in mind at the moment. Now remember, I had had full coffee cups in my hands. Naturally, as they scooped me up the coffee, cups and all, went flying and dripping all over me and them, but that didn't deter their determination. They passed me back and forth between them, twisting and turning, laughing themselves silly with the execution of their well thought out maneuver. When they had twisted me so that my back was facing the pool they gave a loud collective 'yell' and threw me in the water. But there was one factor they hadn't taken into consideration. My dates head! I had the feeling of having hit something incredibly solid and then all of a sudden I was falling to the bottom of the pool. My date hadn't expected to wear my butt as a bonnet and he was taken completely by surprise. He went straight to the bottom too, but of course he didn't have much of a choice with me sitting on his head. Everybody thought it was hilarious. Especially the ones responsible for the entertainment. My man friend came up spitting and gasping for breath. Once he could breath again he joined in the laughter with the rest of the group. My concern was for the poor man's head. I was sure he would have, at the very least, a minor headache, but apparently the water had taken the brunt of my weight and all he had was a good story to tell his buddies the next day. His concern of the moment was the coffee that had been spilled when my butt went flying overhead. I was the one that was drowning!
No one really seemed to care that I wasn't making it out of the water as full of laughter as I normally would have. My dear mother, the sweet thing, went and got my date another cup of coffee while I was sputtering and moaning. After all, the poor man had had Penny land on his head; he needed some tender care. No one seemed to really care that I was sucking up water faster than a fish. I got no sympathy from anyone. That's what happens when you turn 40. Nobody cares about you any more. I had changed clothes before I had started getting coffee and my beautiful birthday dress was a wet, sopping mess. No one cared. They just kept on laughing. I was the hit of my own party. My sweet father helped me out of the pool, while my date drank his new cup of coffee and my mother encouraed everyone to keep on laughing. I went and changed my soaking wet clothes and when I came back out everyone applauded my performance. I was a diving sensation!
I decided that my best performance would be forgiving the men that had done this dastardly thing, but they got the last laugh again by forgiving me for forgiving them. So the party went on and a great time was had by all; especially the men.
The next morning I got up to get ready for work and a horrible thing happened. I couldn't move my head. The pain was miserable every time I tried to rotate my head. I was so miserable I gave in and took myself to a Chiropractor to see if he could put my neck back together so it wouldn't hurt anymore. All I wanted was for him to make my neck work again, but of course he said, "OH, MY GOD, YOU'VE HAD POLIO. I CAN'T TOUCH YOU."
Polio again! I was forced to go see an Orthodedist. Seems that my spine hit the top of my dates head exactly at the proper angle (naturally, this was "I can do that" me) to push my neck up into my head and I had a sprained neck. Another two weeks off work while my sprained neck muscles healed. I couldn't even be pushed in the pool like an ordinary woman. I had to do the POLIO thingymabob. It worked out all right though, because I spent the two weeks off work sitting poolside at my parent's home. I went back to work so tan that I got accused of faking my injury. My date never even got a slight headache. Not fair, I really felt that he should have shared the injury part of the party, but then again, he didn't get to sit in the sun for two weeks either. Turning 40 was the most fabulous birthday that I have ever had. I got to sit by the pool for two weeks and I learned that I could create a once-in-lifetime landing.