Somewhere along the line—I’m guessing at about the same time that Range Rovers became popular—kids’ birthday parties were transformed from simple cake-and-ice-cream celebrations into epic extravaganzas.
For the uninitiated, children’s parties today are more lavish than a royal wedding; more complicated than a transgender divorce; more expensive than the Franken-Coleman Senate race; and more challenging than trying to figure out at exactly what point Jesse James took complete leave of his senses.
I tried to persuade my chubby, soon-to-be-8-year-old nephew that extravagance was the downfall of the 1980s, and that political correctness now dictates no-frills celebrations. Not surprisingly, my plea was received about as well as Obama’s health care plan.
Now, how and why I volunteered to throw myself into this full-fledged party-planning frenzy, I’ll never know. I mean, unlike the recent White House Media Correspondents bash, this is a truly meaningful event. So what if overseas markets are giving a higher value rating to Malibu Barbie Pogs than the US dollar. That’s nothing compared to what I’m up against.
Fortunately, I’ve cleared the first hurdle: theme selection. We’re going with Avatar. Which means I’m in the process of filling a sizable storage unit with Pandora platters, cups, tablecloths, napkins, balloons, noisemakers, and hats—plus a 3D retrospective tracing “the blue-Smurf-on-steroids” turbulent yet ultimately triumphant battle against American fascism. Is it just me, or are their groping-tentacle tails a tad creepy?
Oh, and did you think Avatar is just a movie? No, no, $300-billion-plus times no. Avatar is an entire industry unto itself. The list of Fortune 500 companies is now divided into three categories: service, manufacturing, and James Cameron. Could a Broadway show be in the very near future? Can you envision little floating jellyfish spending far too much time singing Elton John tunes?
Anyway, we have a theme. But what about entertainment? Don’t even suggest Pin the Tail on the Donkey or Musical Chairs. I know of one mom who made that mistake, and… well, do you remember Gulliver, the Lilliputians, and lots of rope?
I could see if the Power Rangers are available. But then again—the heat, their spandex. We could be looking at a Morphing meltdown.
I thought I had the perfect entertaining yet educational idea. I could show the kids documentary footage of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 crashing into Jupiter. But I reconsidered when my chubby nephew asked if the solar system was compatible with the Sega or Nintendo system.
And then—give me strength, dear Lord—there are goody bags. Who came up with this twisted concept anyway? I thought a simple “thank you for coming to the party” would be a sufficient send-off.
No way. These kids want loot. I heard of a particular overachieving mom who gave out assorted semiprecious stones. One youngster, obviously a veteran of these soirees, had brought along his own appraiser, who proceeded to announce that the gems were flawed. Needless to say, the pint-sized crowd got ugly. Even Elmo was seen hurling goody bags at the unsuspecting hosts.
It doesn’t end. Just look at this list of what I still have to do:
1. Replace carpet with Astroturf.
2. Review insurance policy—is general carnage covered?
3. Go to bank; withdraw savings.
4. Put heirlooms in tornado shelter.
5. Find out cost of extra security.
6. Go to bank; cash-in CDs.
7. Try to remember how my brother is blackmailing me into this.
8. Go to bank; apply for loan and extended credit.
9. Refill Xanax prescription.
10. Go to bank—armed.
Whew! I tell ya, this kiddie-party thing is more difficult than producing a new play. Which, coincidentally, I am doing. Look forward to future information about the Midwest premiere of Patricia Loughrey’s new play, Dear Harvey, to be directed by the incomparable Maxine Klein. Critics are calling it “a funny, tragic, stirring, and uplifting portrait of courage, faith, and dignity” (Backstage Magazine); and “An unforgettable salute to Harvey Milk” (Frontiers in LA). How’s that for a blatant plug!
Well, as always, consider the source.
Bye for now.