Party On

The theme of this party was “Let’s See How Much Cream Soda Connie’s Little Sister Can Drink Without Wetting Her Pants."

It’s probably just as well that someone as old as me can’t have little kids, because I’m not sure I could handle the theme birthday parties.

I know, there are people like Yoko Ono, Sharon Stone, Diane Keaton and some regular, non-famous people who have been able to pull off having babies late in life. Giving birth to them when you’re in your 40s is one thing, but planning their 10th birthday party when you’re in your 50s has social disaster written all over it. At 51, I can barely muster up enough oomph to order a pizza. I wouldn’t know the first thing about renting a Moon Bounce or making a cake shaped like a pirate ship. (I recently looked up “Peter Pan Theme Party Cake” on Google and up popped the Peter Theme Party Cake, which was basically a loaf cake with two cupcakes. I might have ordered it, thinking it was something the Lost Boys built in the woods in a sequel movie I hadn’t seen. Old people can’t be trusted to not cause a scandal by naively serving a penis-shaped cake at a kids’ birthday party.)

I had some cool parties when my kids were little. We spent our share of time in Chuck E Cheese and at the batting cages and at the roller rink. But we also hosted some parties in our house, with me as freelance theme-party hostess, flying solo on a wing, a prayer, and the Oriental Trading catalog.

My most elaborate theme was the detective party I had for my son. This was long ago, before Internet sites provided ideas from Alice in Wonderland to Zorro, and seven different sub-categories of fairies.

I was on my way to Walmart to look for detective junk when I drove past the high school. It was the day after homecoming and the police tape that was blocking off a parking area had come disconnected on one end, so as I drove, yellow police tape that said POLICE LINE DO NOT CROSS came fluttering practically into my windshield. I slammed on my brakes, grabbed all the yellow tape I could get before getting busted, and burned rubber out of there. I used it to block off our entire  front yard. I drew body outlines on the front walkway, we played guessing games with clues, and I passed out magnifying glasses for party favors. I was Mom of the Year.

Today, I’d be the laughingstock of the playgroup. Kids’ parties have taken on epic proportions. My friend Gail threw her daughter an Esmerelda party and hand-painted wooden chairs in purple, green and gold for each of the party guests. They got to take them home as party favors. Picture 12 girls dragging chairs out to their mini-vans, wearing gypsy scarves clinking and clanking around their waists. Picture Gail collapsing from two weeks of painting furniture.

The next year, she had a Spice Girl party and hired some high school girls to come dressed as five themed characters. Posh fell off of her spike heels, fell down the deck stairs and scraped up her shin and twisted her ankle, and had to be carried to her mom’s car by Sporty. Going to parties with my kids became the most exciting part of my weekend.

Then we moved next door to the Witkins family and they had these two boys, wild teen-early-20-something boys, who had crazy parties which started seconds after their parents’ motor home pulled out of the drive. At some point in every party, there would be either fireworks, explosives or they would start shooting potatoes out of their potato gun.

My son’s birthday was coming up and I asked him, “What do you want to do for your birthday party this year?” I was thinking either Indoor Swim at the Vo-Tech pool or Camouflage Army Guy.  (I held out hope that someone would take me up on my idea to have a Crazy Mixed Up Party, one in which I could use up all my old party theme supplies that were left over from past parties. You might get a Barbie invitation, an Aladdin cake plate and an Old West napkin. Goodie bags would contain any old plastic piece of crap I had in my junk drawer. No one liked the idea. I can’t figure out why. It was so practical. It would be like giving my house a party colonic.)

“For my birthday party this year, I want the Witkins boys to come over and shoot the potato gun off our deck,” he said.

A potato gun theme party? What do I serve, french fries? What’s in the goodie bags? Aerosol cans of Right Guard? What shape is the cake? PVC pipe?

More than a decade later, if you Google “potato gun theme party” you will actually get this blog in which the mom makes potato guns for marshmallows and builds a theme party around it. She includes pictures of the PVC pipe being sterilized in her dishwasher.

No question about it; I’m definitely too old for that kind of party theme detail. The Witkins boys, now married with kids of their own, might be interested, though.

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