Thursday, April 17, 2008

Birthday parties, and the ways in which they rock

My birthday hovers some time around this general time, give or take a few weeks, and in my family there are so many of us, with only so many months in the year, so we tend to do monthly birthday parties. For April I get to share party-duty with my favorite, favorite Mom and also my favorite, favorite niece. The Mom, she is the bestest Mom ever in the world, and the niece is also the premium of all nieces. We rock the April birthday party scene – rock it haaaaaard.

In years past we’ve had themes of “South of the Border” birthday (featuring a burrito bar and killer piñata) or Hula-Hula birthday (that included this killer kahlua pork thing by my brother-in-law with his big, fancy green egg grill thing totally shaped like a green egg BUT with no ham and no questions about where you would have it, like in a box or in a train or with a fox, and seriously if you had ham with a fox wouldn’t the fox just grab the ham and run, because hey – free ham!?) and this time our theme was “a good, old-fashioned birthday party” (also known as “man, I’m kind of tired of coming up with themes and ways to theme them, aren’t you?) We had cake! And ice cream! And presents! There was a sing-along, which was extremely topical (even mentioned birthdays and everything!) and we set fire to some parts of the dessert food! Seriously, it was awesome and I seriously think that this classic birthday party thing is TOTALLY going to catch on!

A quick note on cakes: larger should not translate into taller. A taller cake is not really a handy thing, because cakes can be tippy, especially when you start taking parts of it away and giving it to people. You need to make a cake larger? Think SPREAD IT OUT, people. We had a party of about 25 people we needed to feed, and unfortunately the bakers on whom we had depended decided that meant we needed a cake with eleventeen layers, roughly 3 and a half feet tall. Tasty? ABSOLUTELY! Yummy chocolate cake with frosting and flowers and words encouraging us to be extremely happy on this, our day of celebrating that none of us have died at all the whole last year! But logistically this cake was, to put it mildly, a big challenge. So next year we’re going to have to say to the baker-people “we need to feed about 25 people, and we’ve got a station wagon ready to pick up a cake that could be up to 4 feet across if need be – don’t go up. Seriously, don’t go up. No more than 2 layers, pleeeeease.”

Do not worry – we muddled our way through the logistically-challenging-yet-flavor-excellent cake. We’re up for any cake-eating challenges in my family.

My family is chocked full of frustrated Tony-award-winning Broadway performers. To that end, we do a rendition of “Happy Birthday to You” that would knock all available socks off! And if you were wearing Birkenstocks? Flying Cork, people! The only problem with our birthday song performance is that we get completely stuck on “Haaaaaaaaa-“ The song lasts nine minutes, 8 minutes and 20 seconds of which are the entire family holding the “Haaaaaaaa-“ note because nobody can seem to get the next part rolling. Also we do it in something like 8-part harmony, which is very cool, but there have been a couple of years where there was almost a fist fight at song’s end due to the starting note having been too high, too low, too sharp, not adagio enough, whatever. But it’s totally worth the effort – we’ve brought entire catering shifts to tears.

I won’t lie to you, my true-blue chums (new thing I’m trying for how to refer to you guys – what do you think of “chums”?) – I do enjoy being given gifts. I do. I love to give gifts during Christmas way more than getting gifts, but when it’s a day where I can shamelessly revel in GETTING STUFF, in being totally MINE, MINE, MINE!, I go for it. I got a bunch of cool things, from “awesome, I need this!” to “rock on, I wanted this!” to “Woah, I didn’t even know this was an option!” A couple of highlights included a Steve Martin biography, which I’m excited about because I think that guy is one of the funniest and most brilliant people ever! and I’m pretty sure if I read his biography I’ll learn all his secrets and finally be funny and brilliant my own self! Also this board game called “Pandemic” which is cooperative, which means it's you and your fellow gamers playing against the game. In this case the game is a pack of runaway, out of control diseases who want to ruin everything for everybody, and the game players are a bunch of scientists working to cure those nasty diseases. But of course we're sexy, hot scientists, like on Star Trek or The Core or stuff like that, who do their scientific thinking in tight tank tops and low-rider jeans and who, if need be, will grab a gun and shoot those bad, bad germs right between the... eye-thingies. I'm totally loving the idea of the cooperative game, although I think for this game to be truly realistic there should be the potential for you to have to battle packs of rabid, disease-infected zombies. Because we all know that all diseases eventually lead to zombies. Just ask Will Smith.

So, to summarize, birthdays are awesome and cake (even too-tall cake) is yummy and everyone should put their heart and soul into any sing-along and zombies are bad. And happy birthday to us!