After a while, everyone went downstairs for the big performance, which turned out to be a Burning Man–esque show, replete with drumming, “the stroking of auras,” and spoken word. Throughout the production, Bucko accepted the artsy accolades with laughter and smiles from her “throne.” The celebration segued into the slide show, during which Bucko grew quiet and misty as she watched images of her extensive life.
When it was time to sing “Happy Birthday,” I sat at the piano and froze after the first two notes. As the voices trailed off in confusion, I begged for a do-over and tried again. No one seemed to mind or notice when I flubbed a chord; their singing drowned out the music. When the song was finished and I turned around, I could see in each admiring gaze that everyone, including me, wanted to be like Bucko.