This is Maggie. She was my birthday angel.
I got off work at 3 PM Friday, and headed straight for the pawn shop. But not just any pawn shop. I had seen her in the window a few days prior, and she had been hanging in my mind like a nagging phrase on the edge of memory ever since. Her beauty was as undeniable and timeless as the tide. And, as I would find, equally unforgettable. She drew me, ceaselessly. But beauty is only part of the equation. Beauty is only one possible beginning. There must be a connection. Would she be right for me? Would I be good enough for her? Ancient questions asked by lovers before there were words to express them, the answers to which only time and effort can reveal.
Dumbstruck, I saw that she was still there. How could it be possible that none had seen her beauty and been as enchanted as I was? How was it conceivable that no one had seen her worth? I tried to bury my longing under insipid machismo. Classic surf green, beautiful curves, nice solid body… what more could a guy ask for? But even as I forced the words into my mind, I knew they were unworthy thoughts; puerile misogyny masking the uncomfortable truth that she was my weakness. I was falling in love. And when I finally held her in my arms, felt the smoothness of her neck against my fingers, felt the way she leaned into my body, the drop became eternal. I would be falling for her forever, plummeting blissfully into her bottomless perfection. And I was grateful for the fall.
I celebrated my thirty-fifth birthday with her. My family and friends debated all weekend over what I should name her. Pistachio. Misty. Surfer Girl. Nothing seemed to fit, and I refused to force it. It had to be perfect. I mean, look at her. She’s magnificent. Her name could be no less. I decided to wait it out.
Fast forward to four minutes past midnight on the 12th of July. I found myself in a local pub. I was 35 years and four minutes old, drinking alone, and not yet ready to end the evening, when I overheard a nearby group of young women wish a happy birthday to one of their own. It seemed I was not the only one who had been waiting for midnight. It felt only proper that I should send over a drink to the one with whom I shared a birthday. In return she demanded a birthday dance, a request which she made clear would not be refused, and with which I happily complied. We made our way to the tiny dance floor, and as she took my hand the band played for us “Dead Flowers” by The Rolling Stones.
Ninety minutes prior to this, I had never met these women, nor the band. I hadn’t even made up my mind to go to the bar. And now, after having briefly spoken to the bassist about music earlier in the evening, the band was playing one of my favorite songs by my favorite band so that a wonderful young woman and I could have our birthday dance together. How could I have asked for more than that? The moment was nothing less than magical. And if there’s anything I’ve learned though my numerous mistakes and missteps, it’s that when you are gifted a magic moment, you don’t push it. Don’t muddy it by clinging too tightly. Accept it with sincere gratitude, then let it go. You have to walk away.
And sometimes, if the stars are just so, the magic will follow.
This is Maggie. She was my birthday angel. After the flawlessness of the dance, I thanked the birthday girl and excused myself. It was clear that she and her ladies were tight knit, and I didn’t want to intrude on their revels. But that’s when her friend Maggie came to me, like an envoy from paradise, and told me that I should join them to celebrate my birthday. She would not accept no for an answer, and, in truth, she was so captivating, so powerfully, deeply charming that I don’t think I could have said no, even if the thought had occurred to me.
Maggie made sure my glass was never empty and my lips were always smiling. I’ve never met another woman quite like her, and I doubt I ever will again. Some magic only happens once in a lifetime. Being with Maggie was like dancing with a dream made of starlight. She made everything effortless. When she heard a song she liked and pulled me on the dance floor, we spun like drunken fools. She was electricity in my arms. All of those magnificent women were nothing short of amazing to me that evening, but Maggie made my birthday truly exceptional. She’s something special. Wherever you are, Maggie, thank you for everything. I mean it sincerely when I say that you were perfect.
Much later, my mind still abuzz with potent drinks and the sheer exhilaration of her, I found myself at home. My birthday had been filled to overflowing with life and laughter, partly from my family and friends, but largely from the unexpected evening I spent with those amazing ladies I would come to think of as my Birthday Girls. And as my head hit the pillow, a huge smile made its way across my face. I finally realized what my guitar’s name was. It had been right there the whole evening, and I hadn’t seen it. And it was, after all the overthinking and needless deliberation, absolutely perfect.
This is Maggie. She was my birthday angel.
2008 Fender Squier Bullet Stratocaster
6 String Solid Body
BODY: Basswood, Surf Green finish, 3-Ply White/Black/White pickguard
NECK: Maple, Bolt-On
FRETBOARD: Rosewood, Mother Of Pearl inlay
BRIDGE: Fulcrum Tremolo