Love of Ours

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The moon appeared in splendor, big and bold and bright,
watched her with my darling and felt my heart take flight.
Sky above Atlantic moon shared with sky of stars,
to south circled Saturn, red hued gave hint of Mars.

Sweet lovely, languid hours twilighted into night,
final days of summer, watch Selene’s arc of flight.
Sky of brightest azure transformed to smoke, then black:
Contrail pierces Luna, bleeds not from the attack.

On a strip of island gentrified beachy homes
laid out in grid pattern, dominoes wait for storm.
To everything a season, slipping into fall,
bright moon keeps on shining, reflection for us all.

No light does she emit, yet symbolizes love?
Both barren and frigid, why look we to above?
There’s love all around us on Earth verdantly rich;
warm hearts, human grappling, let souls entwine in tryst.

Selene with your magic you do naught but mock me;
ever cold and distant, yours is deadly beauty.
Beauty cold and distant? Without cal’rie of heat?
Never can compare to two hearts that as one beat.

Lover’s peaks and valleys, the heat of passion’s kiss,
these from Selene missing, let’s long remember this.
Give me flesh and sinew over a billion stars,
though reflection’s lovely rather have love of ours.

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Solo Rider

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Colors of rainbow have all washed away
gone’s arco iris, all’s left’s black and grays.
Thought I had power and dreamt I had speed
left riding solo’s lonely place to be.

Longed for adventure, I needed to fly,
so I saddled up and went for bike ride.
Seems dark and dreary had entered my soul;
to cure winter blues knew I had to roll.

A lack of daylight and excess of mead
hitched my giddy-up so went out biking.
Goal was a roll with friendly peleton
alone at start line where have riders gone?

There’s strength in numbers, there’s value to herd,
camaraderie and to heights we’re spurred.
That’s all terrific but none of it counts
cuz on my group ride my solo-ness taunts.

Day was not tempting fact I must admit
cool temperatures and steady fine mist
but it’s been observed we don’t go to war
with army wanted as we roll forward.

Whether it’s warring or withering sky
weather’s the weather when time for bike ride.
The mail must go through in sleet, rain or snow
out in the drizzle this male man did go.

The wind was blowing to that must confess
a forty knot gale made my bike skittish
but I persevered and I fought the wind
as I cycled from home to ride begin.

Incredulous stares and a few horn honks
affronted my eyes as Klaxons did taunt
but I soldiered on despite wind and rain
I knew peleton would ease stress and strain.

Five miles I traveled by bike to get there
arrived wet and chilled at parking lot stared
expecting to find riders at the start
found I was alone it tore at my heart.

I shrugged my shoulders and inhaled deeply
made the decision to ride solo-ly.
Cursing the weather, resenting lost mates
I went for a ride turns out it was great.

Despite the weather, the wind and the rain
horrid conditions, fact I’m not quite sane,
ride on bicycle beats sitting around
but on next group ride hope lost mates are found.

Colors of rainbow have all washed away
gone’s arco iris, all’s left’s black and grays.
Thought I had power and dreamt I had speed
left riding solo’s lonely place to be.

Tony Kneel: “Daisy, Daisy,” part 2 of 3

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At the end of our ride I bid farewell to Jack, approached Nicolette and exchanged numbers. We agreed that I’d peruse the Potomac Pedalers rides and see which one fit best. I explained that I’d be riding the tandem solo to the ride start so we’d almost certainly do a ride that originated in Ashton or Olney. I didn’t explain that we’d have to start close by because I was carless, the reason wasn’t relevant, and Nicolette smiled while Geoff scowled as they drove away with their bikes atop their BMW 733i.

I cycled the five miles from Sherwood High to home, put the tandem away, (it was my most expensive possession) showered, grabbed some food and, since it was Saturday and I didn’t have to wait until after 11:00 for rates to go down, phoned Jean.

“Hey, baby,” I said into the phone, “how you doing?”

“Good,” she replied. “Just getting some last minute wedding details planned. You’re still planning to make lasagna for the rehearsal dinner at Marie’s, right?”

“Yep. Lasagna Florentine. Gotta Popeye it up.”

“Great. We can go shopping when you get here. You’re driving up with your folks?”

“Uhm, maybe?” I responded. “We’re all coming so I should have plenty of people I can catch a ride with. Maybe John and Brooke. Guess what I did today?”

“Heard from a school in Atlanta!?”

I exhaled heavily. “No. Sorry. Nothing yet. No. I went on a group ride with Jack on the tandem.”

“Oh. Yeah?” Jean responded non-committed. Jack was not one of her favorite people.

“Yeah. Potomac Pedalers? The bike club? We rode the tandem.”

“Cool. Have fun?”

“Yes. I’m looking forward to tandeming with you in Atlanta. Had a gal express interest in a tandem ride with me and so next week I’ll probably ride with her.”

“Oh, yeah? Somebody you know?”

“Not really,” I replied. “We’ve been on rides together, but we haven’t talked much. She usually hangs with her body-builder boyfriend.”

“Oh. Cool! Well, have fun! I got stuff to do. Talk to you later?”

“Absolutely. I should be home tonight. Call you around ten?”

“Perfect. Love you!”

“I love you, JPT. Later,” I said, waiting for her to hang-up before disconnecting.

I consulted my Potomac Pedalers newsletter and found a ride that started from the Olney Theatre and called Nicolette. Geoff answered. “Hi. Is Nicolette there?”

“Who’s calling?”

“Tony Kneel. I’m supposed to arrange a tandem-”

“Nikki!” I hear Geoff call out. “It’s the tandem guy.”

Nicolette gets on the phone, we agree to meet at the Theatre on Saturday the twenty-fourth and go about our days.

Saturday May 24th brings another beautiful not quite summer morning to central Montgomery County. I cycle to the Theatre and find Nicolette waiting with Geoff who scowls. “Hey!” I say, “how are you this morning? You have water bottles?”

We place her two bottles in the stoker’s waiting cages and we three sign the ride log. I explain the basics of being a tandem stoker and then we’re off, heading northwest toward Old Baltimore Road. It doesn’t takes long before the ride group splits into a slightly smaller faster portion, and a larger slower part. Nicolette and I leave Geoff behind in the slower part as we motor through the mostly rolling byways of rural northern M.C. With nearly twice the horsepower but almost no additional aerodynamic drag, tandems allow riders to go faster on flats and fly downhills, with the flip-side being a more precipitous slowing on ascents.

Peter’s Seventieth

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Image may contain: 4 people, people sitting and indoorWe all know of Peter and his fairy pal Tink,
and army of Lost Boys from fount of youth did drink.
Neverland far away, yet ever is it nigh,
ADA accessible, as we all can fly.

Fly away in spirit, God Father, Son, and Ghost!
My Cath’lic upbringing this play reflected most.
Not too far from Dubuque, in eastern Iowa,
is where I lived longest, tall corn and short soya!

I too am an orphan, I too am four of five,
play made me remember times long ago slipped by.
Sarah captures nicely Midwest mid-century,
Wendy, John and Michael, Jane and Hook all family.

First we lost our mother and then we lost our dad;
only one not present when our Royal Dame passed.
Ten years span of siblings, eldest turns sixty-two
all love one another; I’m liberal in the room.

Spread out cross the nation, triangle of vast size
from D.C. to Memphis hypotenuse inscribes.
Though great is the distance hearts are our winning suit
for love of family for all’s an absolute.

Known to act a fairy, flit merrily around,
though the years weigh heavy life still holds me spellbound.
Here’s to sister Peter, my John and brother Mike,
Jane’s our youngest sibling, I will Captain our flight.

We all know of Peter and his fairy pal Tink,
and army of Lost Boys from fount of youth did drink.
Fly away in spirit, God Father, Son, and Ghost!
My Cath’lic upbringing this play reflected most.

Same Time

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In same time that it takes to kvetch
could lend helping hand, be a good mensch.
In same time that it takes to spread lies
do simple fact check and verify.
In same time that it takes to assume
could ask question and let wisdom bloom.
A panoply of ways to sow light
rather than whine and add to world’s blight.
So many troubles, so many woes
exacerbated by we people.
It’s in our actions show what value
lead by example, grow me and you.

Automaton

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Striped of emotion, lobotomized
you’ve turned me into thing I despise.
My face now flaccid, voice of Voder,
I’m nauseated over this course.
Think it’s endearing, thing you’ve made me?
Your fascination I just can’t see.
Facial expression, vocal content;
what am I left with which to project?

Great nobility Lucien P. Smith:
In no way digging my lack of pith.
Can’t see the value, automaton,
dissimilitude leaving me wan.
Lucien as Golem, clay, feet to head?
Abomination, now role I dread.
Sick to my stomach over this turn,
cream has turned rancid inside this churn

My face now flaccid, voice of Voder,
I’m nauseated over this course.
Facial expression, vocal content;
what am I left with which to project?
Can’t see the value, automaton,
dissimilitude leaving me wan.
Sick to my stomach over this turn,
cream has turned rancid inside this churn.

Striped of emotion, lobotomized
you’ve turned me into thing I despise.
Think it’s endearing thing you’ve made me?
Your fascination I just can’t see.
Great nobility Lucien P. Smith:
In no way digging my lack of pith.
Lucien as Golem, clay, feet to head?
Abomination, now role I dread.

Eye Right, Ewe Reed

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Aye right, ewe reed pleas help me sea
how two brake threw grate wall wee to.
Knead too connect hour Seouls drifting;
wee to once whir sew close, no moor.

Long fore daze passed win wee wood caste
hour cares and whoas fore winds wood go.
Hi thymes win oui new piece fully,
weed fly two son butt now cant run.

Cant run, won’t Hyde, on-we in sighed
oui must brake threw cap sure wee too,
aye no wee can cap sure hart’s plan.
Fawning, my dear eye Neal, pleas here.

My kneed and wont, you’re love still haunts
pleas here my please its ewe eye kneed.
Grate love like hours must help in door,
too harts as won should be beaten.

Eye swear two ewe eye will brake threw,
make ewe here me, hour love must bee.
Two knight aisle show witch path two go,
again wheel bee awaking dream.

Mercifully, Coldly and Without Passion

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The gown gaped and the floor was cold but Roland kept his eyes forward as he shuffled along. The attendant patted the hospital bed, saying, “Just sit up there and lay back, big fella. This won’t hurt.”

Roland grunted as he squatted minutely before taking the micro leap upward that raised his buttocks high enough to perch on the bed, the attendant’s hand on his bicep for support, the grunt a mixed response of effort and dark irony. “Yeah,” Roland drawled, his voice thick with bayou, “that’s what ch’all keep telling me. Guess we’ll see.”

“Ain’t had no complaints yet,” the attendant replied, his smile softening his words. “Can’t claim one-hundred percent satisfaction but nobody’s ever complained after.”

“Sent out a survey, did ya?”

“Ha! Now that’s a good one. Real gallows humor. Good for you. Lemme see your arm, gotta prep you,” he added, donning gloves and applying an alcohol swab before inserting an IV needle. 

Roland’s arm jerked slightly with the prick and the attendant said, “Come on. You trying to tell me that hurt?!”

“Hate needles.”

“Well we’re done. Just got to set back and let it run its course. You talked to Chappy? Said your last words?”

“Made my peace,” Roland replied with a single head nod. “That works fast,” he added indicating his IV line. “Feeling sleepy.”

“Any pain?”

“No. Least no extra.”

“Alright. Just going to get the attending and the man from State. Don’t go anywhere,” the attendant said with a wink, “be right back. Need me to adjust anything?”

“Can you adjust the ankle shackles? They’re biting some.”

“Yep,” the attendant replied as he did so. “Hold tight, right back.”

Roland’s mind drifted backwards over his fifty-nine years, his time in and out of prison, his scrapes with the law and his conviction for a capital crime he had not committed. “Rape a fourteen year old?” he slurred. “Never. Might a used some persuasion a time or two but I never raped nobody and I sure as hell never cut no woman.”

Fifty-nine years of hell danced through Roland’s head as the  administered cocktail painlessly drained the life from him. “Fourteen,” he whispered, “just fourteen,” his mind drifting from the girl whose rape by another was the proximate cause for his execution to his first real taste of carnal knowledge, his transition from boy with unmet desires to man that women lusted after. He laughed aloud, remembering that first sexual escapade, one that happened in a hospital bed with his gown thrust out of the way, his girls panties ripped off and her skirt riding high, his concussion from a cop’s nightstick in no way interfering with their quiet as possible lust filled sexcapade.

Roland’s ramblings including, “Damn shame,” were heard by the attendant, the doctor and the man from State, each of them certain that his drug induced, tongue stumblings were proof positive of Roland’s guilt and his execution a true vindication of justice served mercifully, coldly and without passion.

Cloth Ears, Button Eyes

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Wish to know peace know it’s no lie
start with cloth ears and button eyes
Those monkeys three they know the score
they’ll see, hear, speak evil no more
But every day becomes more clear
sweet ignorance we value dear
Those who hold torch of truth and light
too frequently treated as blight

Can’t hear, can’t see, thought’d bring world peace
but still somehow our tongues don’t cease
Our forked tongues wag in rants and rails
as teeth, tongue, lips others assail
It’s status quo to just complain
as the response of human beings
A zippered mouth seems need to add
with a padlock that’s ironclad

Then only time mouth’d be unzipped
when nourishment passes through lips
Trio monkeys, with their hands crossed
should beat forked tongues and lying dross
Can’t hear, can’t see, thought’d bring world peace
but still somehow our tongues don’t cease
Our forked tongues wag in rants and rails
as teeth, tongue, lips others assail

 

Search and Seizure

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We’d shared head bobs time and again
mornings we’d wave, though we weren’t friends.
Working retail down in G-A,
corner strip-mall, my shirt chambray.
She’s bridal-shop, me in bike-store,
ebony eyed, skin dark ochre.
Thin like a rail, maybe size two,
her ready smile eas’ly it grew.

Tall and stately, gracious, pleasant,
her smile gave me flavor piquant.
Far from a crush, nor obsession,
just pretty girl my day brightened.
One day at lunch, grabbed a quick bite
from fast-food joint that was in sight.
Watching for cars crossed parking lot
folks in hurry, averse to stop.

Single car shared with my young bride,
getting ta work us’ally bike ride.
Ebony Eyes, she rode the bus,
no excess cash any of us.
Step from blacktop onto concrete
end of sidewalk squint hard to see
at a small crowd all looking down.
Quicken my step, rush towards the frowns.

Down in corner, down on the ground
lies something big, unsure eyes found.
Takes me a bit then realize
the fearful thing affronts my eyes.
Quick as a flash compr’end it’s her
sprint to her side fearing she’s hurt.
Crowd of gawkers, do nothing folks,
just stand and tisk, see the girls soaked.

No tire marks, akimbo limbs,
I see she’s soiled, my heart grows grim.
Shove my way through, kneel by her side,
feel for a pulse dresser of brides.
Find a heartbeat,  see eyes flutter,
whispers request, her words are slurred.
“Get me inside. Shield from oglers.
Epileptic. Fear I can’t stir.”

Surveyed the crowd, felt my blood boil,
scooped woman up, nodded at door.
“Open the door,” was no request,
voyeur complied; yeah, there was mess.
Got her inside, owner nonplussed,
strode to a couch, heard owner cuss.
“Lord, she’s filthy. Soiled her clothes.
What, is she drunk? Just trash, suppose.”

In a fury looked at owner
told of seizure, controlled anger.
“Back to my work I’ve got to get.
She needs some help. You’ll provide it?”
Reluctantly owner agreed.
Back at bike shop scrubbed all of me,
changed to fresh clothes, went ’bout my day
end of my shift visit did pay.

La flaca chick, so I was told,
left bridal shop and took bus home.
Never again did she return
labor once more where she’d been spurned.
A tiny drop of empathy
was only thing she was needing,
seems had run dry Milk of Kindness.
Can’t help wonder what’s wrong with us?

Sentiment: Barry & Mrs. Fremus

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Some of us are suckers for sentiment, some not so much, a theme beautifully illustrated in Tom Griffin’s The Boys Next Door. Barry Klemper, a schizophrenic but loving and kind twenty-eight-year-old, plucks at the heartstrings as he attempts to give his widowed neighbor Mrs. Fremus a golf lesson. Mrs. Fremus is game to try but her aged hands find the task of holding the club unbearable and as the lesson collapses the conversation between two-generations-distant friends beams with love and compassion. 

Mrs. Fremus, alone and lonely in her declining years, happily provides Barry with love, support and a sounding board concerning the anxieties that swirl through him as a visit from his abusive father looms near. Barry notes that it’s been nine years since he last saw his dad to which the hard-of-hearing Mrs. Fremus commiserates by acknowledging that, “A lot happens in five years.”

The two sit, a full summer moon providing just enough light for soul salving reflection, Mrs. Fremus reminiscing about her deceased husband, her loneliness leeching outward as tears from a rock as Barry first aggrandizes his long absent, struggling, overwhelmed bully of a father, a man whose love he yearns for but whose upcoming visit has left him angst filled and terrorized.

James Flaherty’s Barry and Donna Futoransky’s Mrs. Fremus soft lapping of wave on shore is a delightfully soothing and heartbreaking exchange between two lonely, misunderstood hearts that find solace beneath the solstice moon and their interaction stands in starkest of contrast to Mr. Klemper who, upon seeing the hand-drawn poster Barry has placed on his group home’s bathroom door to welcome his father declares, “You do this, Barry? It’s real nice. ‘Welcome home, Dad!’ Real thoughtful. (He carelessly removes it from the door.) If it’s piss or sentiment, give me piss every time.”

Seems we reap what we sow.

Sheila ~n~ Norman

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     A man who gains seventeen pounds of squishy-middle, free-doughnut provided belly-fat after working in a doughnut store for three months may not sound like an amazingly romantic character but oh boy is he! Turns out a middle-aged, intellectually challenged man who cannot navigate through life without a ring replete with a half-kilo of keys jangling from his belt, keys to which there are no corresponding locks with which to mate, a man who exclaims, “Oh boy!” whenever presented with the tiniest of obstacles produces utterances of love that bring tears to the eyes, a lump to the throat and joy to the heart. That Norman Bulansky; who knew?

     Norman is one of four “boys” living in a mid-1980’s era group home aided by caretaker Jack under the auspices of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and his interactions with love interest Sheila are sweet enough to put ya in a sugar coma. Sheila, his bookend counterpart in assisted living, limited cognitive function but arms wide open, heart on a sleeve,  hormonal hankering and spiritually spellbinding beauty, meet and fall in love at weekly dances provided by social services at the Center for folks who receive needed help in their shepherding through life. “The Boys Next Door” unveils Norman and Sheila’s ongoing Bailar del amor as it has reached fevered pitch and their love blossomed and grown.

     Sheila, “No skinny-Minnie herself,” radiates love, respect and desire for Norman and Norman eats it up as though he were a man fresh from a hunger strike presented with half-a-dozen doughnuts. Jack facilitates Norman’s request to show Sheila his “pad” unencumbered with the weight, chaos, noise and confusion of his fellow housemates and watching the two lovebirds flit, flitter, coo and gush from the audience side of the fourth wall gives us as endearing a display of heartfelt, wholehearted, wholesome, confused-from-its-newness desire as one can ever hope to witness.

     Norman and Sheila are beyond precious and Aaron Clarke along with Laura Baker shine moonlight and candle glow on a touching and praiseworthy glimpse into the hearts of two people whose love is far more profound than either could ever express.

“Take my heart, Papa!”

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     My father, a devout Catholic, had an anecdote that beautifully illustrated the Biblical observation concerning willing spirits but weak flesh.

     A beloved but ailing Pope Purity, high above a huge gathering on Saint Peter’s Square, says Mass from his balcony and in his homily confirms that his debilitated heart is failing and that he has but days to live. As Purity speaks a man cries out, “Take my heart, Papa! Take my heart!” The Pope acknowledges the cry of the devout, crosses himself as benediction and continues to deliver Mass but as Purity speaks more people join in the man’s heartfelt, “Take my heart, Papa! Take my heart!”

    Moved but resolute Purity continues with Mass and while Purity is performing transubstantiation three white doves land on the altar before him. One dove reaches down and plucks a downy feather from her breast, hops to the Pope and offers it to him. At the sight of the miracle the crowd surges forward their chant, now universal and deafening, overwhelms Purity and through the steady,  “Take my heart, Papa! Take my heart!” the Pope raises his hand, immediately silencing the gathered.

     “My most loving and generous brothers and sisters,” Purity declares, “I thought your offer of life to me at the expense of one of you too dear, but God has spoken through the doves. Humbly I will accept your gift and we shall let God himself decide who among you will bless me with your life!”

     Purity raises the dove’s feather high above his head, steps from the altar, leans over the balcony’s rail and tearfully declares, “On whomever this feather alights, he shall renew me with his heart!”

     The crowd’s zealous chant again erupts but now after every heartfelt, “Take my heart, Papa! Take my heart!” declaration there is added a whooshing sound of air being blown forcefully upward in an attempt to alter the course of the descending feather.

     Life and death as Purity’s situation was we are all facing an equally threatening  dilemma from the perils of Climate Change, a peril which sixteen-year-old Greta Thunberg has been making big headlines with since her September speech to the United NationsIt is clear that Climate Change is real as is the need for us to stop pouring massive amounts of carbon emissions into the air essential if we wish to slow rather than exacerbate a naturally occurring climate cycle. I find disgusting the ad hominem attacks against a child and these attacks show the absolute desperation of Climate Change deniers who attack the messenger when their alt-facts flail and fail to refute the science that so clearly shows that we must act if we wish to keep the Earth habitable for human beings. 

     I applaud Greta and her efforts to get all of us to reduce our Carbon Bootprints but we must ask ourselves what we are doing in the fight against Climate Change. Are we merely wringing our hands, demanding that Government, “Do something!” while living lives that show disdain for the environment?

     Do we acknowledge a need for action, declare dismay over the fate of the World but continue to lead carbon heavy lives? Are we promising Earth we will save her while blowing the feather of burden into the air, hoping that some deus ex machina miracle will descend and save us without any effort or sacrifice on our part? What is the point of heartfelt declarations of concern and need for change if we exhibit no change in personal behavior?

     Our actions must follow our hearts if we wish to create a more verdant and sustainable Earth, otherwise we’re just blowing hot air.

Turvy-Topsy

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Good morning, Woo-Woos, today’s your birthday,
October means eighth, Caesars saladly.
World’s turvy topsy, what’s old is what’s new,
just four years ago you turned twenty-two.

Two-thousand-nineteen, year Gregorian,
Fifteen-eighty-two, AD/BC, hon.
Julius Caesar created Leap Year:
Approximation of humans down here.

World’s Anglo-centric, imagine a globe;
we’re floating in space, why’s up at North Pole?
Greenwich is Mean Time, why can’t it play nice?
Blackbeard Edward Teach, pirate gold-n-spice.

Kwisatz Haderach had bluest of eyes
drowning of Sand Worms left Paul high and dry.
There’s reign of horses and rein of women.
Think that that’s backwards? There’s birthday lessen.

Lessen our sorrow and lesson our pain
today’s tomorrow, watch out for Urbane.
Pudding that’s Hasty, Battle of Hastings
all of this his’try just confuses me.

Bob Seger rambled state of Michigan
know Hollywood knights are horsey chessmen.
Circumlocution won’t let me be brief,
stone’s throw from Rushmore Crazy Horse relief.

Good morning, Woo-Woos, today’s your birthday,
so many stanzas of, “What did he say?”
Saying I love you, you know that’s it’s true.
Hope this made you smile, birthday gift to you.