He came in to work with me on his birthday, which was a big deal for him, because much of the time when he lives with his dad, he's home by himself. His two older sisters have large groups of friends and very active social lives, and Cal is more of a loner, preferring the company of his Xbox or Teletoon. We shared a pizza for lunch, and he met a couple of our clients, who all complimented me on having such a grown-up, well-behaved sweetie for a son.
Five-fifteen found us at Drift. Kris and I took Cal over to meet Damian and the rest of the Friday crew. I told Damian it was my son's eleventh birthday, and that we needed a piece of the homemade cheesecake.
Damian put the order in to James in the kitchen for the cheesecake, and said to Cal, "Ready for a birthday shot, buddy?" He put two shot glasses on the bar, one in front of my son, one in front of him, and filled them both with Tropicana orange juice. The two of them said "Cheers!" and clinked glasses with each other, then with Kris and I. Franco brought out a huge piece of cheesecake covered in strawberry coulis, with a big bright candle in the middle, and the whole staff, plus the few guests in the restaurant, sang happy birthday to my son. He hid his tears in my sleeve, and devoured his cheesecake quietly.
My son still talks about his birthday party at Drift, and how awesome everyone there was to him that day, but he reserves a special smile when he tells people about his birthday shot.
Damo, I wish I could tell you sensibly how much it meant to me, that small gesture from such a big heart, and how long afterwards the immense happiness it generated, lasted. I have always said, to anyone who would listen, I've been a patron of Drift since it opened, and being there is like being in my best friend's living room. You and your crew have become my friends over the past couple of years, and Drift is one of my happy places. You have a gift for genuine hospitality, and it shows, in small gestures and big ones.
Wishing you the happiest of birthdays, my friend. Nazdrovaya.