My Thirteenth Birthday Party

I was planning to write that I couldn’t remember my thirteenth birthday, but almost before the words were on the page I discovered some parts of it trickling back into my frontal cortex.

I can’t remember what presents I got, although I could take a guess, and I have no idea what clothes I wore, but once again I could take a guess; but what I do remember is that my birthday party was at the King Alfred bowling lanes (If you didn’t grow up in my home town then it probably seems odd to name bowling lanes after an Iron Age monarch who probably seldom bowled, and I have no explanation to offer). 

What I do remember is that I invited the cool kinds. I was one the uncool kids, and when my mother dropped me off at the King Alfred I was unsurprised to see I was the first one there.

I can’t remember what I did while I waited for my guests to show up, but I would quite likely have bought myself a plastic cup of Pandacola, and a pack of Chipmunk salt and vinegar crisps.

Clive Richardson was probably the first one to arrive, because I have a strong memory of him pulling a lemon face when the real cool kids arrived. “Ugh!” he said, “Mike Boss. He’s not with you is he? I hate the way he acts like he’s the boss of everyone.”

I looked around, and there was Mike Ross with his cohort. “Mike Ross and the Supremes,” continued Clive. “What did you invite them for?”

I think I was probably astonished to discover that not all of the cool kids liked each other, and maybe the discovery even relieved me a bit. I think I liked the idea that I wasn’t the lowest person in Clive’s estimation.

I remember a fleeting moment of the bowling party going well, but almost everything else has gone––at least for now.

I do remember a week or so later that the cool kids invited me to hang out in the town center with them. I asked Andy Campfield what I should wear.

“Wear your school uniform,” he said. Our uniform included a fire engine red jacket. I had a mental image of myself in the red jacket and jeans.

So, that’s yet another hidden memory: I must have had jeans.

During the intervening 50 years I have never once listened to Diana Ross and the Supremes without thinking of them as Mike Ross and the Supremes and yet, before today I never once connected that thought to Clive Richardson’s comment on my 13th birthday party.