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Yesterday evening's birthday festivities were originally planned as a combined party for me and Chuck, whose birthday is next Saturday. I thought it was a fine idea, and planned accordingly. Invited 3 or 4 friends, selected what I was going to wear, etc. Chuck is a dear friend and it would be fun, I said to myself.

Then last week Chuck's wife decided that it was too much to have a combined birthday party and it woud be for Chuck alone, with friends of theirs, and was that OK with me? I was invited, too, of course.

Well, what was I going to say? No, it's not all right with me? You promised? Nor could I excuse myself and celebrate my birthday alone without seeming surly and childish. So I put on my glad rags, summoned up a smile and attended.

They did sing "Happy Birthday" to me.

It was OK, sometimes the conversation was interesting, but as it centered around Chuck and events that these long time friends shared 20, 30 years ago, mostly what I could do was smile and sip my wine and listen.

This is why I don't go to parties where most of the people are strangers to me. A few times I could join in the conversation, when the topic became general enough, but mostly I felt shut out, though certainly not deliberately. I most enjoyed myself sitting on the couch, petting their dog, after he blew out the candles and cut his cake. Cake and ice cream all around.

This morning I still feel unsettled and off kilter. Not in synch. But it will pass. It always does and I find my center again. Until then I think I'll just keep quiet. I tried conversation with B and that made it worse, not better. I need a dog.

I must say this is one birthday year I won't forget.

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