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Coffee Break with Kathrine: Birthday wishes and photographs

Cincinnati Enquirer logo Cincinnati Enquirer 1/15/2021 Kathrine Nero, Cincinnati Enquirer
a woman holding a cup: Kathrine Nero © Kathrine Nero/The Enquirer Kathrine Nero

These days, birthday wishes just don’t count unless you announce them on social media.

We can debate the merits of the “Happy birthday!” wishes from that girl you lived with for a semester in college or your kid’s first grade friend’s mom. Some of them are sweet, some are generic – but if they make you happy, then I’m all for it.

This week was both my best friend’s birthday and my sister’s birthday. Again, for relationships that close, the birthday wishes not only had to be shouted from the rooftops, they had to be proclaimed in Instagram stories and Facebook posts. And in doing so, I realized a couple of things.

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One, my best friend and I don’t have a lot of photos together. And she’s a photographer. She’s taken a lot of pictures of me (including many of the ones you see here in this newsletter), but there are only a handful of the two of us together. We talk every day. And I mean EVERY DAY. But photographs are quarterly at best. That’s something to work on before my next birthday post for her.

Secondly, I rummaged through some old pictures to find some really embarrassing ones for my sister’s birthday. She was one of those kids who never had an awkward stage, so my quest came up empty. My goofy stage lasted at least seven years, so I like to think mine was enough for both of us.

Anyway, I came across this photo.

a group of people sitting at a table eating food: Vintage Kathrine Nero photo with her sister. © Provided/Kathrine Nero Vintage Kathrine Nero photo with her sister.

Neither one of us had ever seen it before. My father sent it to me a few months back as he was cleaning things out. A couple of things struck me.

Back when you had to hand-advance your film and take it down to the drugstore to be developed, the thought of taking photos of everyday monotony was completely foreign. I mean, you only had 24 pictures on a roll – you had to make them count. They were reserved for special occasions and holidays only. Today alone, I’ve taken four pictures of my dog. Things are different.

This photo shows my sister and me in our den, sometime in the ’80s. She’s sitting on the floor because that was the best angle to see the gigantic console television, and the best proximity to change the channel to one of the other three choices we had, if need be.

Behind her: a collection of albums (the cool kids just call it “vinyl” now) that my daughter immediately honed in on. She’s one of those cool kids now, collecting “vintage” vinyl. From the early 2000s.

I’m sitting at the coffee table that still graces that very room. My back is to the TV, reading the TV guide. Not the actual magazine TV Guide, but the one that came in the newspaper every weekend. So yeah – instead of watching TV, I’m reading about it. And nothing sums up my childhood more than that sentence.

My sister has a snack and I have a mullet. And also a Coke poured from a two-liter into the Peanuts glasses we got at McDonald’s. And nothing sums up the ’80s like those two sentences. I spotted these same glasses at the Florence Antique Mall a couple of months ago and had half a mind to buy them.

It’s a literal snapshot into our life at the time. I’m guessing that when my parents picked up the prints at the drugstore, they probably flipped right past this one. But I’m glad they kept it. Because sometimes the mundane tells a better, more realistic story than the big events. 

Things you might have missed this week:

Want to see live theater? The Children’s Theatre is making it happen.

There are approximately 263 people running for Cincinnati mayor.

How about an impeachment cocktail? Fireside Pizza has one on the menu.

Remember the puzzle phase of quarantine? Here’s a reminder.

May your photos be plentiful and your cocktails be strong.

— Kathrine

This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Coffee Break with Kathrine: Birthday wishes and photographs

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