10 July 2009

The Birthday Party

No, no, it’s not what you’re thinking. I’m not planning on mounting a new production of the first play by Nobel Prize winner Harold Pinter. The wife and I are starting to plan one for our son. Quite different. Not so bleak. Less absurdity. No cockney accents. Well, of course, it hasn’t happened yet. So I can’t really promise anything. But nobody dies.

I don’t think.

Anyway, so yeah, my son is verging on turning one year old. How did this happen? Where did the time go? I am rapidly becoming a very old man. I’m still not used to it (this whole being a parent gig). Does anybody ever really get used to it? I mean, to put this in perspective, there are certain TV series that I’ve been watching longer than he’s been on this planet. A lot longer. That’s just plain weird.

One of those series is Rescue Me. And its current season has been a very bright spot in the otherwise arid desert of summer TV programming (Dance Your Ass Off? Really?) And honestly, this might be the best show on television. I’m just saying. It could even (almost) be described as Pinteresque (see what I did there?) in its commingling of darkness and levity, in its black-comic brilliance. It is one of the few shows on TV—pretty much ever—to not only embrace, but actually get the concept of absurdity.

But I was talking about that birthday party. It’s a very amusing undertaking as the guest of honor goes to bed early, doesn’t really speak, and won’t even realize he’s being celebrated. This has not stopped an entire industry from rising up around this occasion. Recently, we received not only an entire first birthday-centric catalogue in the mail—oh wait, Pinteresque absurdity in action, after all—but also a handy, detailed checklist of necessary items from a well-meaning, kid-friendly neighborhood chain store—one with a very long-necked spokesperson/icon/mascot. And I’m guessing that all of these items (commemorative bib? really?) are conveniently available for purchase at one of your myriad, multi-colored locations. Am I right?

While we appreciate your generous attempt to guide us through the tangled forest of first birthday-planning, we think we’ve got it covered. Though, we did have an eerie, possibly foreboding, experience recently that might have made us think twice about this whole birthday party thing. While doing some preliminary research on paraphernalia for said birthday party at our favorite big box store, which we love and spend most of our free time at and which was recently given the Eddie Vedder Stamp of Approval (http://tiny.cc/5fVJR), something rather absurd, and fairly disturbing, occurred.

While we are more or less used to all manner of human person from small children to wrinkled geezers sizing up our progeny and gushing forth with excessive adulation, we were not prepared for the sudden appearance of the rather mangy, unkempt little girl (though in hindsight, she was not that little) who shouted “Baby!” and bum-rushed our shopping cart in a mad attempt to manhandle and ultimately kiss our son. No kidding. She got right up in there. It bordered on terrifying and my wife practically had to physically restrain this creature while her mother/parent/guardian was obliviously absent the entire scene.

Seriously, this girl looked like the creepy chick that climbs out of the well and emerges from the TV screen in The Ring (the remake, not the original—and while we’re on the subject, that scene of the horse going crazy and jumping off the ferry might be the scariest thing I’ve ever seen, I should never have watched it alone at night and oh no, now I’m thinking about it again—wait, back to the story). I mean, there’s poor parenting and then there’s this. Not only the ragamuffin’s appearance, but general inappropriate behavior. It was all I could do to not scream, Hey lady, get your dirty urchin offspring away from my kid!

The whole thing was almost enough for us take our son home and lock him away from the world for a very long time. Skip the whole birthday thing and just do it next year. Or five years from now. Either way.

I mean, really, it’s not like he’s even going to know the difference.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, people have been having children for hundreds of thousands of years, but your perspective, being a new parent, is irresistable. Knowing nothing about all this, I'm fascinated. I've heard that babies grow up to be real people. Is that true?