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Snowbird’s birthday today

July 19, 2018

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July 19, 2018

You never know what kind of birthday celebration to expect when it comes to Eddie Alden.  Most of us play the roles of extras in the greater story of his life.

I (and I suspect I was not alone) started getting phone calls from him in June and the conversation started with him:  “Dan [pause] Dan [pause] my birthday is next month.” 

It hit me like that.  By golly, his birthday was next month.  Eddie (known by most people by the handle “Snowbird,”) has the charismatic knack of bringing together dozens of people to celebrate.  

Today was such a day.  I’ve had the pleasure of being Eddie’s friend for almost 30 years and his birthdays are interesting and educational.  Here’s what happened this year. 

Eddy phoned me after father’s day to ask when he could bring me a couple bottles of wine as a present.  He nearly always phones late in the day, like when I’m in bed.  Like about 7pm.  I’m retired and I like to — well, retire early.  “Call me tomorrow, only earlier,” I urged.

Ultimately Eddie came over when P. was out so I drank one of the bottles (a merlot — not bad!) while we reminisced.  Eddie doesn’t drink alcohol (or use drugs), so he drank a glass of lemonade before hoisting one of his trademark bladder buster Pepsi big gulps.  Eddie, self-employed as a bicycle rider about town, no doubt has inside knowledge of every men’s restroom in the downtown area.  I don’t know how many times he pees a day.  He is seldom seen without a huge container of soda.  I’m talking 48 ounces, but that was in the old days.  These days I doubt if his beverage container is more than 30 ounces.

Eddie’s visit with the two bottles of wine helped plan things out that culminated in events today.

Anyway, last Sunday he phoned to remind me of his impending birthday.  I asked him if he’d gotten ahold of mutual friend Tom.  (No, he didn’t have Tom’s number.)  I asked him what about his friends at the Billings Gazette.  “Yeah?” he said.  I never know what Eddie means when he says it that way.  I didn’t push the point.  I asked him if he had got ahold of my nephew Jon.  No, he hadn’t been able to reach Jon by phone.  But that is sort of Eddie’s way.  He seems sort of forlorn until the big day of his birthday, when wham-o!  The world joins together to wish him a swell birthday!

I asked him what he wanted for his birthday this time, and he replied, socks.  Well, I replied.  Call me early in the day and we’ll see about buying you some.  “Do you have a Shopko card?” he asked.  I answered in the negative.  I don’t think I’ve ever been to Shopko, wonderful store, I’m sure.  I haven’t been to lots of places built since the 1980s.

The next day he phoned me right after 6, but I’d just finished a glass of wine.  I explained that I wasn’t about to drive anywhere that late.  Would he kindly phone earlier in the day?

Last night he called after supper, but again, I’d drunk some wine.  He promised he’d come over today at 9am, before his noon party.  He explained that he hadn’t called earlier because he had a flat tire on his bike.  I asked him what he does for a flat, and he answered that he replaces the inner tube.  Eddie bicycles more than anyone else I’ve heard of, so I resolved then and there to replace the inner tubes whenever I get a flat.

At our house, in preparation for a new couch today, P. and I moved the old one to our back room, so I was taking a farewell nap when Eddie arrived at 10:30.  I quickly grabbed the keys and we headed for J.C. Penney.  Traffic was light.  Parking lot was nearly empty.  Eddie led me swiftly to the men’s sock department.

He searched among the products for a package of eight pairs of men’s size 12 white socks.  I got antsy waiting as he carefully examined each display.  Then he hurried to find a clerk, a young woman, who told him (I heard her!) that they didn’t stock any but packages of 6 pairs.  I thought that she was kind when she offered to special order packages of 8.  Just then another clerk approached me and asked if I needed help in the sock department.  I referred him to Eddie.  He also said the packages of 8 didn’t exist.  Soon, Eddie and I were alone again, amidst the socks.  I offered to purchase two packages of six before a display caught my eye.  “Two pair free, with a pack of 6,” it read.  I showed Eddie.  “Look!  1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8!” I counted the pairs.  Eddie grew more animated.  “You’ll buy me two of these?” he asked.  “Yes,” I replied, affecting weariness.

At the checkout the clerk applied several kinds of discounts, and the 16 pair of premium gold-toe white socks cost a mere $21!  I was elated.  I thought of my own sock supply before deciding I didn’t need to also buy any.  I am still considering returning there.

Eddie and I went to the Golden Corral cafe.  On the way he phoned someone at the Gazette to ask them to meet us and to see if Tom could also be invited.  He left a message for Jon.

Soon Eddie and I were eating lunch with two professional, highly trained, newspaper professionals.  They probed Eddie with wonderful questions that elicited colorful and memorable replies.  I’m being serious here.  At one point Eddie removed a stocking cap from his pocket that held a 3-inch stack of gift and a debit card.  Very impressive.

The waiters at the Golden C. sang a rousing birthday song for our hero before we departed.  Eddie was headed to the Wells Fargo bank for a birthday party.  On the way Eddie received a call on his cell from a baker who wanted Eddie to pay $19 for a birthday cake he ordered.

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