Sunday, December 31, 2017

Happy Birthday, Benjamin!

If you've ever read Elizabeth Enright's Melendy Quartet (The Saturdays, Four-Story Mistake, Then There Were Five, and Spiderweb For Two), then you will have met Rush, the teenage boy who reminds me so very much of our Benjamin.

In "Then There Were Five", Enright describes Rush's room:  It was a masterly confusion of bird's nests, snakeskins, books left open facedown, sheets of music, symphony scores, war posters, disbanded chemical sets, microscope lenses, fishing tackle, old letters and postal cards, and odd stamps which had escaped from his stamp album.  A hammer and saw, some nails, a bottle of varnish and an empty Coca-Cola bottle with a straw in it were among the articles on the bureau, and on the bed were two old comic books, a model airplane, and a volume of the life of Beethoven.  

As Cuffy had predicted, shoes and articles of clothing were draped about the floor.  Rush no more had the instinct to hang up his discarded clothes than a snake has the instinct to hang up its shed skin....Among the shoes and clothes were scattered pages of lined music composition paper.  At the top of each was written "Opus III: Sonata in E Flat"; underneath in smaller letters were the words "by Rush Melendy," and at the left, still smaller the words Largo Maetoso."

Later in the book, Rush and a family friend are discussing character: 

"Remember, you ain't go no character at all yet.  It's still just growin', bendin' this way an' that way.  Nothin' but a little jellyfish still."

"Jellyfish!  Listen, I've got a strong character!  Why, listen, I --"

"Nothin' but a jellyfish," repeated Willy peacefully.  All of you.  Just a lot of little jellyfish."

"Some jellyfish sting, don't forget," said Rush.

He stared at Lorna Doone's tail and wondered about his character.  He was sure he had a strong character but when he began to think hard about it there didn't seem to be anything to take hold of.  Am I generous  wondered Rush.  I guess so.  But only when I want to be, so I guess I'm not.  Have I a good disposition?  Yes, except when I'm mad and then it's fierce.

Every time I re-read this series, Rush and Benjamin "twin" more and more.  Full of love for people, musical, smart, funny, passionate about life.  These books give me insight into the birthday boy.

On Benjamin's 17th birthday, he invited some friends and family (what a gift!) over to celebrate with brunch, then the teenagers (and my awesome husband) headed to the park for some rough and tumble fun

while the rest of us either departed or stayed at our house quietly visiting.

I loved having little ones around my house.  

I totally impressed a six year old by my ability to "make crafts" (even though her sweet mama did most of the work)!

Sarah made a mammoth birthday cake for Benjamin.  Somewhere underneath all of that cream cheese icing, there were layers of gingerbread brownie, pumpkin cheesecake, chai tea ice cream, and something else, I'm sure.

Our neighborhood Christmas party fell on Benjamin's birthday, so we brought the cake to share with our most wonderful neighbors.

Finally, we resorted to running an electric knife underneath hot water, and bit by bit, we sawed through and enjoyed the delicious monument to Benjamin's day of birth.

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