The month of April is one giant clusterfuck of birthdays and holidays. There’s April Fool’s Day, which most don’t consider a holiday, but I’m the sort to celebrate anything that allows me to make an ass out of myself or someone else. Unfortunately, this year I was too busy behaving like an adult (pronounced in this case, for effect, as “add-ult” rather than my usual “uh-dult”.) to play a decent prank on anyone. I didn’t even get fooled until the day after, and that was almost as depressing as the ideas I didn’t have time to come up with.
Being a fastidious employee, I opened a work email intended for April 1st on April 2nd. It was our weekly newsletter of company updates on things like new retirement plan information, classes, discounts, and praise for staff that go above and beyond. (I’ll get there one day.) One of the very first headings announced that George Clooney would be using our campus to film his next movie. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “I know that idiot didn’t fall for that.” Well yes, actually, I did. And I’ll tell you why: Because a few years ago Kevin Bacon used the area surrounding our campus for a movie. The place was a madhouse, with employees using their lunch break to try and catch a glimpse of him during filming and get autographs. I never once went near the set. I couldn’t be bothered to interrupt my blog reading for the likes of The Bacon. But for The Clooney I’d at least take a peek. Anyway, so I read the heading, gasped very loudly and excitedly, and then proceeded to read the paragraph that followed. In the first sentence it said, “blah blah blah April Fools”. Then I sat there and seethed because it was such a sucky AF joke and I fucking fell for it and now I hate Kevin Bacon even more than I did before because it’s obviously his fault.
Then of course there’s Good Friday, Easter, Administrative Professional’s Day (to celebrate wonderful assistants like me), and Earth Day, which I can’t be bothered with. I will celebrate the Earth when it starts producing money trees in my front yard and stops inspiring people to avoid deodorant on account of being “natural”, which is really just another word for “stench” and/or “ugly”. (I’m looking at you, Matthew McConaughey.)
As for the birthdays: My daughter and uncle on the 6th, The Grandmother on the 9th, mom on the 19th, and little cousin Dave on the 22nd (I think...fuck.). That’s a lot of money to spend, cake to eat, and family gatherings to get through. Now, with the month almost half over, I’m starting to relax a bit. But I totally deserve it.
Easter and the kid’s 5th birthday were the first stressful hurdles. While we decided to make Easter Sunday a combination holiday/birthday dinner at TG’s, there was still the other half of the family and her friends to consider. We used to have one party and combine the two families, but The Grandmother now hates my Papa (long story) and calls him “that fat rat bastard”, so we have to do two of everything.
In the end I went the easy route and invited only family and neighbors for hot dogs, cake, and ice cream to Papa’s house where I wouldn’t be expected to clean up. Score! In our family there are always enough kids around without inviting outsiders anyway. (Wow, that sounds very Mormon of me, doesn’t it? I should stress that I have no particular religious affiliations at present and when the kid tells TG (ahem, shouts at her) that she doesn’t want to talk about Jesus, it has absolutely nothing to do with me.)
That Tuesday evening there were approximately 15 adults and four children: the birthday girl, my cousin’s two kids, and Air Hose, the daughter of a neighbor’s boyfriend. (Some of you will recall last summer’s video blog in which I am startled by a fat kid on a trampoline. That’s the one.)
In case you are concerned I am not prejudice against fat children and having been one myself, I’ve learned a few things:
1) Sometimes laughter cannot be helped, no matter how wrong or inappropriate it is.
2) It’s usually the parent’s fault and there’s nothing funny about that.
3) Baby powder helps with chafing.
4) Eating while laughing is dangerous and ineffective.
Everything was going wonderfully. The kids were playing together in the designated play area. The adults were chatting amiably in the designated chatting area. And the men folk were grilling in the...well, outside. My best friend, Rachel, sat opposite me at the cake table and we discussed things and stuff that likely weren’t appropriate for a five year old girl’s birthday party, though I don’t remember specifics. That’s about the time my mom started giving me the stink eye.
“Hey”, she half shouted from across the room, “don’t you think you should pay attention to the children?”
“Why? They’re fine”, I shouted back.
“Don’t you think it’s time to do cake and ice cream?”
“Sigh. I suppose.”
I forced myself off the tall swivel chair and marched into the living room to confront the “avoiders”. These are the relatives and friends that must be present at every birthday, barring death (coma and nervous breakdown are not acceptable excuses as child’s birthday parties have been known to cause these), or be banned from free lake access and big people parties with wet bars. So they come, but they sit out of sight and look around furtively lest they be asked to help serve, slice, or hold a squirming crumb snatcher by the ankles.
“Time to do cake”, I said. They all looked at me and then around at each other. “Move it! Now!” (Mom says I’ve a bit of a bossy side when it comes to “events”.)
I moved on to the play area and rounded up the miniatures. At the mention of cake they all took off running, Air Hose galumphing behind like a grizzly on the hunt. The facial expression under the blonde bob haircut, with horrifically short bangs, was nothing short of animal lust. I know it well. It’s the same look Fisher Price used to have before he would attempt to maul me with sweaty paws, fish lips, and that...cocktail weenie.
The kid was placed in the chair of honor, cake pushed close, and the other children scrambled into the surrounding chairs, putting their nappy little heads in the way of prime photo ops.
“Get back! Sit down! Don’t touch that! Hey, hey, kid!”
The song was sung, candles blown out, cake sliced, ice cream scooped and passed around. I was in charge of cutting the cake, of course, so I wasn’t paying much attention to unrelated details. Like the fact that Air Hose’s caretaker decided to leave the party temporarily.
I had just started eating my own slice when there was a slimy tug on my elbow. “Hey...hey...”
I looked over at her, irritated at being interrupted (really just irritated in general because kids tend to have that affect on me) and touched with fingers coated in icing. “Yeah?”
“Can I have some more ice cream?”
I looked at her fleshy cheeks and arms, coated in blue from the icing and birthday cake flavored ice cream. “Um...you should probably ask Person Who Should Have Been Here to Field Request for Food.”
“She’s not here. She went to go pick up my dad from work.”
“Oh...well...I...guess so.” I wasn’t really sure how best to proceed, but I figured I should probably just give her the ice cream in case she decided to throw a very large tantrum. But while I was scooping it out of the carton I was distracted by an adult asking me some random question. As I was answering I plopped the ice cream on her plate.
By the time I realized what I had done, she was already face down in the melting glob. I’d put a very, very large scoop on her plate and now there was no getting it back. Unfortunately I was not the only witness to this accident. I heard what sounded like choking and turned around just in time to see that one of the “avoiders” had been leaning around the door frame and was turning to run before the laughter came out. Not that Air Hose would have noticed, but still, I was horrified. I might have had the urge to laugh several times that day, but damn it I suppressed it and soldiered on! Mostly. I shot her a glare and turned back to my mother of the birthday girl duties.
Opening presents was a fiasco because my precious angel tears off one tiny strip of wrapping paper at a time and flings them away with abandon. I stood to her left behind Air Hose, who had squeezed herself into the closest chair, and snatched paper as it flew by. Every now and then Air Hose would attempt to grab a passing present or tempt me into conversation with little tidbits like, “I have one of those”, but I wasn’t having it. And then came the kicker: The Slip-N-Slide.
My friend bought the kid a double laned slip-n-slide with a little pool and sprinklers on the end. It came with two inflatable surf boards and all you had to do was hook up the hose. The others agreed that it would be a great way to entertain the kids for the remainder of the party so I sent my cousin Dave outside to set it up while I got them ready. Air Hose wore a pair of leggings and a long t-shirt, my cousin’s kids wore a pull-up and shorts, and my always prepared (snort) child had on her new swimsuit.
We (the adults) arranged ourselves on steps and swings and sat back to chat and watch. The kid went first. She zoomed down the slide on her float and splashed into the cold pool of water, immediately popping up and laughing like a hyena. Success. My cousin’s two children went next, the boy followed the kid’s example and the girl, being a bit more cautious, eased herself half way down then ran away, pumping her fist in triumph. We laughed at the sight of them. It was adorable.
Then it was Air Hose’s turn. She started out by holding the float in front of her, running a bit, and jumping. But rather than traveling down the slide like the rest, she landed with a flop and stayed there. All around me people were laughing, but thankfully it didn’t appear to be directed at her because they’d already been laughing at the others. I twitched and bit my lip, a small snort escaping unintentionally.
She stayed there for a minute, unsure of what to do, while the other kids kept zooming past her and crashing into each other. I was just before getting up to help her when she tossed the float away and started to army crawl toward the bottom, digging her elbows in and grunting with effort.
That’s when I lost it.
My best friend and another friend were sitting to my right, my sister to my left, and my mother in front of me on the steps. I watched my mom’s shoulders shake while the rest of us fell into each other, unable to sit upright. Again, there was so much noise and so much generalized laughter that she didn’t notice.
The poor thing finally reached the bottom and performed a graceless roll into the pool that dumped a large amount of standing water out onto the grass. But rather than get up, she continued to roll around under the spray like a trained Orca. And that’s how it went for over an hour. It was an impressive show.
Occasionally she would get lucky and roll all the way down, tumble into the pool and right over the side, and continue rolling down the grassy hill. My mom finally had to leave because sometimes when she laughs too hard she pees her pants.
We pushed Air Hose down that slide and clapped and cheered for her just like we did the others. But I still felt bad that night when we went home. My friends and I were sitting on the porch sipping wine (well, Rachel was continuously spraying her throat with cherry throat spray in hopes of getting a bit drunk) and talking about it. And yeah, it was funny. It was impossible not to laugh at that image. Even my Papa laughed. But it was also a bit sad. Her mom is a big fucker and had her hair cut in a bob just because she knew it would upset her dad. Every time I think about the things that woman does just to bring that kid down, I want to stab her in the ovaries.
And so I’ve been around her twice since the party and it’s gotten a little easier not to laugh. We even hooked up the slip-n-slide for them yesterday and I only snickered three, maybe four, times. My mom says that part of the problem is that she’s 6, looks like she’s 10, and when she opens her mouth and that squeaky voice comes out it’s a bit of a shock. This could explain why every time she spoke I’d get the urge to giggle or run away. But like I said, I’m doing much better. PTA moms have to deal with fat kids all the time. At least I’ll be prepared come fall when I immerse myself in parenting/school/stuff I’d sooner pull my eyelashes out than do. So, in fairness, I owe Air Hose a debt of gratitude. She might have just saved me from getting my ass handed to me by the parent of some kindergarten brownie stuffer.
Where was this originally going? Ah! Holidays and birthdays!
After the kid’s birthday was The Grandmother’s 75th. My sister and I bought her a few outfits for spring that she desperately needed because she has issues with buying anything that isn’t some shade of beige. We all went out to dinner, stayed with her that night, and went to lunch the next day. She was unusually thankful and complimentary about her presents and all the attention she was receiving. My mom says that the reason she’s been so happy and hasn’t been shouting about lesbos and homos is because she’s actually taking her medicine. Though...she did have one incident:
We were sitting in the living room Saturday evening and a car went by with a sound system in it. The BOOM BOOM BOOM drives TG up the wall. She got up and looked out the window, then sat back down in a huff. I think we might have been talking about Jesus or something before that because when she sat down she raised her right arm high over her head, fist balled tight, and said (loudly and in quite the terrifying manner), “I pray God raises his mighty right arm and smites them all! Mighty smiter!”
I laughed really hard and she gave me a stern talking to on the dangers of boom boxes.
Next on the agenda is my mom’s birthday. She’s not hard to buy for, but after the events from last night I imagine she’s not much in the mood for celebrating. Neither am I, really, but more on that later.
Sunny Side of the Street
3 days ago