Twenty-five. I have to say I don’t think I ever imagined celebrating my twenty-fifth birthday in Cambrai, France, but it was quite wonderful. I went out to dinner with the other assistants in Cambrai to a quirky little placed called “Pataterie”. They serve mainly potatoes (hence the name) but a few other random things as well. Everyone had an aperitif and then most of us ordered a baked potato with some sort of sauce. Mine was a yummy tomato sauce with onions, olives, and a bunch of other stuff I don’t remember. Then we ordered dessert, I had profiteroles with ice cream inside. Delicious! Kristen told the waitress we were celebrating my birthday, so she put a candle in them and everyone sang (which was only mildly embarrassing because we were close to the only people in the place). We had dinner a little later than normal, so soon as we were outside they locked the door and turned the lights out!
So I had originally thought that most of the teachers I work with had forgotten my birthday. A couple of them had said “happy birthday” and did the bises thing. Sylvie acted somewhat surprised when I told her in class and went out and bought us some cookies and orange juice. Anywho, I was a little bummed, but then again I’m not 5 so I really shouldn’t care. Sylvie had been telling me all week about this special lunch for the English teachers and that I must meet her in the salle des profs at noon on Friday. She’d been reminding me so much I thought something was up (I mean, why are we having a special lunch?) and on Friday morning I thought, maybe this has something to do with my birthday. Nah, Sylvie didn’t even remember. So we went to the cafeteria like normal and went to the special, private room for our meeting. Again, I should’ve known something was up when the other assistants were there (why didn’t they tell me they were coming to this meeting? why are M and L here, its only for English teachers?) but I just went on with my lunch. When everyone was finally there, Sylvie said, “okay everyone are we ready to begin?”. I imagined we would start a discussion in English or something to that effect. Nope. They started to sing Happy Birthday! I had been fooled! It was so lovely though and so thoughtful. They had everyone sign a card and gave me a huge bowl of fancy chocolates. When I was getting ready to eat my little cafeteria dessert, Kristen said “maybe you shouldn’t eat that…” The teachers had bought three delicious tartes (one fruit, one chocolate moose, one profiterole-like) and cider. They put as many candles as they could fit and sang Happy Birthday one more time. Turns out Sylvie organized it all.