An Easy-Bake Oven

Deric’s birthday was Wednesday. He received a CD by Andrea Bocelli, the Cars II movie, and an Easy-Bake Oven. He turned 37.

I took him to see Puss in Boots in 3D. I picked him up from his mom’s house. Miriam has been my good friend for several years and even helps me with FAFSA for my kids. Deric wore a crisp, collared shirt, shorts, and nifty leather shoes. I carried his jacket as we got into the car. It was the first time I’d ever taken him anywhere by myself. I was a little worried. The car was quiet.

“What did you get for your birthday, Deric?”

Silence. It takes him a while to gather his thoughts.

“Microwave.” Head bent over, eyes down. I saw him smile.

“You got an Easy-Bake Oven for your birthday, didn’t you?” I remembered what Miriam told me.

“Yes.” He put his thumb and finger near his eyes as if thinking and smiled.

“We could make something together!” I was excited. My mother had always promised me one for Christmas when I was a child, but she was busy during the holidays since my parents were Salvation Army officers. She forgot.

My husband Tom didn’t. About five years ago, he bought me one. I haven’t opened it. It’s hidden in my closet for my grandchildren that I’ll have one day. So the thought of cooking with one excited me. Especially cooking with my friend, Deric.

He tugged at my car visor and looked perplexed. “Visor,” pause, “broken?” I smiled as I remembered how when I bought my brand-new van, first thing my bull-in-the-china-shop-father did was yank down the visor. It broke.

“Yeah, Deric. My daddy broke it the first day I bought this car.” He stared at me. Somehow that made it easier that Daddy wasn’t with me anymore to go around breaking my stuff. We pulled into the theatre.

We entered the movie armed with a keg-sized Icee and some expensive, stale candy. We put on our 3-D glasses. I wondered what Deric thought about the scarey, cartoon movie preview. How did his mind work?

He laughed out loud about three times. Always in different places than I did. The movie was over. I took him to his home, he showed me his gifts.

I thought about him on my way home. When we were together in the car, I noticed a few wrinkles gathering around his eyes where he smiles. Not as many as most his age. He doesn’t have the same worries, if any.

God made Deric special. I mean that. I count it a privilege to be his friend.

Happy Birthday, Deric!

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