Fifty / by Brian Beck

A few weeks back, Quimby turned fifty.  The big five-o.  Half a century (I've gotten in trouble for my repeated use of that phrase).  I threw Quimby a surprise party ten years ago for her fortieth.  I rented out a room at Campanile, one of our favorite restaurants in LA, and invited about 15 of Quimby's closest friends.  It was a memorable night, and it so happened that it was just a few weeks before Samantha was born and the day before my 15 year high school reunion.  I caught a flight back to Pittsburgh just a few hours after we closed the restaurant and then flew back to LA the following afternoon to make sure I was available if Samantha decided to jump the gun.  

Thinking back to that day ten years ago, it seems more like twenty or thirty.  When you have kids on the later side, a LOT happens in your forties.  In Quimby's case, we had Samantha, moved to London, traveled more than anyone has a right to, had Parker, moved back to LA and started the kids in school.  Quimby experimented with being a stay at home mom, gradually returned to work as a contract attorney, then moved to part time and changed firms.  Quimby's forties had more plot twists than a comic book and more than an equal measure of heroics.

When Quimby suggested that we should throw a party for her fiftieth, I pointed out that logistically, the timing was difficult.  I was going to be gone all summer, which meant that the whole shindig would have to be planned in two short weeks when I got back from the epic road trip.  She cajoled me a little bit and pointed out that we had never hosted a party in our house (we've been here five years).  "We used to do it all the time," she said.  "And besides, you don't have a job now."  As usual, she turned out to be right.

For the last two weeks, the party planning ran frenetically on a parallel track alongside the redecorating.  To be fair, I used the party as a deadline to force my own hand.  It worked, and I'm pleased to report that on Saturday night the whole affair came together in a flurry of 1960's cocktails, Mad Men inspired outfits, lava lamps and swirling cigar smoke.  The crowd drank so much that the bartender ran out of whiskey for the old fashioned's at about 10 o'clock and from there on it was martinis all the way, olives bobbing in pearlescent vodka under the string lights.  Quimby glowed all evening, looking every bit as glamorous as Betty or Joan.  She may be fifty but I think you'll agree that she doesn't look a day over thirty.  I wish I knew her secret. 

Wow.  The exposure info doesn't matter on this one.  I just pointed the camera in her direction and she took care of the rest. 

P.S.  I have to give a shout out to Camille Renk and her whole staff at Camille's Kitchen for helping us bring a magical evening to life.  They were exceptional in every way.