Birthday Bliss for Laurie Brinkman
It was July 2, 2002. I was somewhere in the middle between happy and depressed. All I could think of was that I was turning 40 on this bright sunny and hot day and I was still single. An old maid? Heaven forbid.
So, I put a smile on my face and went into work. (I was the catering director for the now demolished Radisson Hotel in Sharonville.) It was a good job for a pretty good life — but where was the husband and family I always wanted? Relief came with the fact that I was dating someone seriously, but it was always in the back of my mind that I did not want to be an old maid.
The day began with numerous phone calls even though this was way before the popularity of cell phones. Each caller wished me a “Happy birthday!” Now, these were not just calls from my friends — these were calls from complete strangers somehow knowing that I was celebrating my 40th. I would answer the phone and a complete stranger would wish a quick “Happy birthday!” and then hang up.
By the time the noon hour rolled around, I had received approximately 25 phone calls, each with the caller either singing to me or simply saying “Happy birthday,” which brought a smile to my face each and every time. It just made me feel so special.
I finally realized that my good friend Suzy was behind the phone calls. Suzy is my most dear and most considerate friend. She has always been creative when it comes to making people feel special. On my 30th birthday she had picked me up from work and took me out for some cocktails. When we arrived, I was surprised to see a whole group of friends waiting to celebrate with me. After a cocktail, we headed to a different place where a whole new group of friends awaited the birthday girl.
It was easy to figure out that it was Suzy who was the mastermind of the friendly calls because I just thought to myself, “Who else would do this?” I called Suzy, and she answered the phone, laughing. She was the one behind the birthday rings alright. She had asked EVERYONE she knew to call me at work between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. and simply wish me a happy birthday. Wow, she knew (and still knows) how important birthdays are to me and wanted to make sure I felt extra special that day — even if I was still single. By the time 5 p.m. rolled around, I had received 40 phone calls, all wishing me a “Happy birthday!”
Toward the end of the day, my boyfriend had called to ask me to meet him downtown at Redfish Looziana Roadhouse and Seafood Kitchen before going to the Reds game that evening. Because it was my birthday, I knew he wanted to make it extra special for me, even though I am the epitome of a Reds fan and spending my birthday at Riverfront Stadium was enough for me!
Flowers awaited me at the restaurant and friends met us at Riverfront Stadium. It had been a perfect day, and it looked like the evening was going to be the same.
Fast forward to the third inning: my friends are around me, the man I love is next to me…wait a minute…he’s not next to me! Where is he? All of a sudden, I hear my friend behind me scream: “Look at the scoreboard! Look at the scoreboard!” It was surreal: While my eyes were moving to the scoreboard, I saw Mark, my adorable introverted boyfriend, kneeling on one knee. But wait….what does the scoreboard say?
“HAPPY 40th BIRTHDAY, LAURIE….
WILL YOU MARRY ME? …MARK”
It was a complete surprise, and despite the fact that he was down on one knee with ring in hand, I asked him if it was a joke. I kept screaming “Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh!” One person behind us even asked if I had even said “Yes.” Eventually, I switched my “Oh my gosh” response to a “Yes.”
It was truly the best birthday I have ever had.
And They Lived Happily Ever After
Mark and Laurie married in May 2003. Because of her age, Laurie told Mark that if they didn’t get pregnant in their first year of marriage, she couldn’t see them getting pregnant at all. But just like Laurie’s dreams for a husband worked out, so also did her hopes for a family. Laurie conceived a baby girl on their honeymoon, and their daughter Elle was born on Valentine’s Day of 2004.
Because her birthday falls on Valentine’s Day, Laurie makes sure to pass on to 4-year-old Elle the love of birthdays that Laurie’s parents instilled in her. Laurie and Mark always make a big deal out of Elle’s birthday. They begin planning for Elle’s birthday extravaganza right after Christmas. (Laurie just sent out invitations for the 2009 celebration.) And with all of the Valentine’s Day hearts and decorations, the stores never fail to help their cause. “[Elle] always thinks the store is decorated for her,” Laurie says.
So whether your birthday is today, tomorrow, next month or December, “Happy birthday” from Cincy Chic to you. We hope it’s fun-filled and fantastic. And join us at 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 15 to help make Cincy Chic’s birthday just as fabulous (cake and fun provided).
Photos: Amy Storer-Scalia
Models (left to right): Laurie Brinkman, Angie Fairbanks, Jennifer Prine, Billie Davis
Location: Havana Martini Club