The Ultimate Pandemic Birthday Party

IMG_2715We often talk about the “new normals” of the pandemic era, but people have been incredibly creative in overcoming the obstacles of separation.  My family in Virginia showed just how to overcome even the most distant isolation.  Today is my birthday but I remain in Chicago with my mother who was placed in hospice in her home on the Northside.  To my surprise, a Black Forest cake arrived from my childhood bakery in Chicago: Lutz.  To bridge the distance, my family ordered a Black Forest cake from our favorite German bakery in Virginia: Heidelberg.  We proceeded to eat the cake together, but remotely.  Even my son Benjamin (who is self-quarantined due to his work as a psychiatric counselor at D.C.’s only psychiatric hospital) joined in on the remote party.  (Ben donned his PPEs for the occasion). In a strange way, I have never felt closer in what will be strangest but most memorable birthday of my life. (I also wanted to thank everyone for the birthday wishes on the blog and Twitter. I truly appreciate it.).

My big brother Dominic brought my gift from the family: my favorite Blanton’s Bourbon (which is incredibly hard to come by).  My nephew Jason (who is the co-owner of a couple of bars in Chicago including Spilt Milk) put together a package for the makings of my favorite drink, an Old Fashioned, as well as a bottle of Remus Repeal Reserve Bourdon.

The huge cake and massive amount of alcohol does raise some questions as to whether the gifts were meant as celebratory or malevolent.

When I grew up, we would go regularly to the bakery and Lutz would love to torture us by proclaiming in a big booming voice that we could choose any sweet or cookie as a gift from him.  Looking at dozens of incredible Napoleons to eclairs to Madeleines, we would be paralyzed for 30 minutes as Lutz would laugh at the impossible dilemma facing us.

After over month from home, I cannot say that a Zoom birthday is my preference, but these are novel times to deal with a novel virus.  The upside is that I will spend my birthday and Mother’s Day with my 92-year-old mother who has rallied in the last couple weeks.  Like most families spread across the country, the pandemic has become a montage of such moments, bitter but sweet vignettes that become part of your family history.

The fact is that crisis tends to distill our relationship to their essentials in a way that can be obscured in better times.  Now I am going to make an Old Fashioned.


29 thoughts on “The Ultimate Pandemic Birthday Party”

  1. Good stuff – thanks for sharing! Happy birthday, Professor Turley!

  2. Congrats: We should sing the Hand-Washing Song to celebrate!

  3. America did not shut down during the “Hong Kong Flu of 1969.”

    “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before.”

    – Rahm Emanuel

    “The Hong Kong flu (also known as 1968 flu pandemic[1]) was a flu pandemic whose outbreak in 1968 and 1969 killed an estimated one million people all over the world.[2][3][4] It was caused by an H3N2 strain of the influenza A virus, descended from H2N2 through antigenic shift, a genetic process in which genes from multiple subtypes reassorted to form a new virus.”

    – Wiki

    “In An Election Year”

    The democrats comprehensively grasped their destiny of loss in November, 2020. The democrats’ one-world, globalist, communist leaders are in Beijing. One call does it all. Was it Obama, Pelosi, Schiff, Hillary, Schumer, Biden, Perez., the Globalist Deep Deep State..?

    The “2020 China Flu” was deliberately released in an election year as a last resort against President Trump who was on his way to an historic, landslide, presidential election victory in November. The “2020 China Flu” was released from a secure, fail-safe, research lab which employed multiple redundant safety systems. China and many other countries are capable of fully safeguarding facilities. Fukushima was hit by two natural disasters. Wuhan was hit by none. The coronavirus could not and did not get out. It was deliberately released in the 2020 election year.

    China has a long history of influenza “outbreaks” including the “1918 Spanish Flu,” the “1957 Asian Flu” and the “1969 Hong Kong Flu” in which 1 million people died – 100,000 of them Americans. China has long been securely “perfecting” viruses at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. China may be deemed to have plausible deniability for its act of war. China has no escape from responsibility for historic levels of economic damage, pain and suffering and wrongful deaths resulting from its gross dereliction and negligence in its management and operation of the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

    America was shut down due to hysterical and incoherent demands by democrats in 2020. America was not shut down during the “1969 Hong Kong Flu.” Why? The “2020 China Flu” was released…

    “In An Election Year.”

  4. From one Great Laker to another: Happy Birthday and many more. I trust your mother will not be neglected as a result of your inevitable case of Lexington,KY flu.

  5. We…went to the animal fair!
    The birds and beasts were there.
    The old baboon on the side of the moon..
    Was coming his Auburn hair.
    The monkey he got drunk..
    And fell on the elephants trunk.
    The elephant sneezed and fell on his knees .
    And that was the end of The Monk, The Monk..The Monk!

  6. Happy birthday, and wishing many returns of the day! I always look forward to the civil tone of your learned writings, a rara avis in terris, or at least, in Internet.

  7. This brings back memories of when I lived in Cincinnati for a few years. I’ve read estimates that 70% of the greater Cincy area is of German descent. In any case, they had the most fantastic German bakeries! Happy birthday JT! I’m sure it is a great comfort to your Mom having her “favorite” son at home with her.

  8. Happy birthday!
    While I often disagree with your views on the current admin, this country needs you in good health to remind us of the importance of free speech and the need for protection of privacy and liberties. Besides, you’re a decent, hardworking guy, with a very nice looking family. Many more to you and your mother too!

  9. What a nice story! Thanks for sharing. Happy Birthday!

  10. Happy Bday, JT. And the very best to your mother. I Zoomed with my brother this weekend and it was bittersweet. The best to all and good luck on a speedy recovery from your alcohol poisoning. 😉

  11. Happy Birthday, Professor Turley! God bless you and your family, especially your dear mother.


  12. Happy birthday to you, Mr. Turley! And many more! Wishing you and your family the best health.

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