Wednesday, March 4, 2009


An Evite pops into my mailbox this morning: from baby Jimmy for his first birthday party. The program is smashing - green cake, cheese pizza, and a clown. The only problem is that Ramon’s party is also scheduled for the same time. Ramon’s party is simpler - beer, cigar, and a stripper. Of course, there are no Evites for bachelor parties, just a terse message from a shifty-eyed guy at the water cooler giving the time and location. It is a tough choice to make. Much as I like the kid, I have given my word to Ramon. I just have to reject this Evite, sorry, Jimmy. Oh wait! Oh no! My wife’s name is on the invitation list too. Oh no! Please … ! Argh! She has already accepted. With two guests – that is me and our kid.

I call my wife. Hi! Can I get out of this? I have work to do. (pause) Yes, I know, Jimmy’s parents came to our homewarming. Got it, the Reciprocity Law. But, I must go to work. (Pause) Right, they are the only American buddies we have…

She’s right. Jimmy’s parents are the only White Americans left in our network. We are holding on to these guys with dear life. The others gave up trying to understand our accent.

Listen, I can’t go, but you can still go without me. (Pause) I will iron all your clothes for the next two weeks. No? (Pause) Wait, hold on. I will hunt down the pesky rats in our crawl space. (Pause) There are no rats in our crawl space? Ok, all right, I have a better idea. I’ll stop making fun of your parents. Honest! (long pause)

Whew, she’s considering the offer. The jokes on her parents must be hitting a raw nerve.

I’ll get them a nice gift when we visit India next month. (Pause) Fantastic! Wonderful!

She agrees! I’m free! Wow!

Thanks. Have fun at Jimmy’s party! (Pause) Hey, when we visit your parents, I’ll even bear your father’s nutty philately collection. Ha ha ha! Oops. (Pause) Hello? Hello? Are you still there?

I blew it. I blew a once-in-a-blue-moon chance with that dig at her father. No use ruing about it now. All right, I have to go to this infernal kid’s party, but it is just a couple of hours in a long life…big deal, right? Wrong.

First, the unforgiving last minute trip to Babies R’Us for the gift. The only likeable part about this store is that you don’t need driving directions. Just follow the first minivan on the highway with the yellow “Baby On Board” sign stuck on the rear window. But, the store is huge, and we find ourselves moving around in circles trying to find that elusive toy, while dodging pregnant women bouncing down the aisles like giant rubber balls. Suddenly, we are running out of time. We just have to get anything. After some more hypertension, we finally find something: a decoy remote control. The minor difference to a real remote is that this one sings. Right, some Jimbo thought that a singing remote control fools a baby. But, we still take it. It is better than the dancing vacuum cleaner and the talkative rice cooker. Ok, so all we need is a gift bag now…, hold on! Are you telling me that the gift bag is more expensive than the toy? You can’t be serious.

Ok, I take the bag, and finally get into the cashier line when I realize the bloody irony. The three women ahead of me are pregnant. So are the two women behind. I’m the lone guy standing right in the middle of five pregnant women. Not exactly the scenario I planned for when the day began.

We go to Jimmy's party. Only kids have chairs, the adults are gathered around like a human version of Stonehenge. The food is just great - the cheese pizza is cold and the pepsi is warm. But I'm too nervous to eat. There are balloons everywhere. They are big and moving slowly. Moving balloons give me the heebie-jeebies. Just the thought of a pricked balloon is frightening to me. Oh crap! A beastly kid is creeping up on the large bumper-sized buster right in front of me. I need to find a corner to roll into a fetal position to prep for the blast. I get down on the floor and wait there with my head in my knees, but the balloon never bursts. I just hear lot of cheering and look up. The kid is gone. The danger has passed.

It is the cake cutting part of the ceremony. The adults who have been clinging to the walls like barnacles swoop down finding something to talk about. Oh the cake is wonderful! Look at the plastic doll holding the candle, it looks so cute! Guys, you know, HP has a new device that prints the icing on the cake. Supports 705.39c protocol.

The chatter runs out its course after a while, but the birthday kid is still not appearing. I don't know if you ever noticed, but birthday babies are big party poopers. All they want to do is hunker down under their blankets and sleep, but their parents drag them out in front of suffering grow-ups who sing "Happy Birthday to You" with the same gusto as prison inmates singing the National Anthem.

It is over. Now, I can go home. My son is turning one in a few weeks. Got to plan his party. I hope you are going to make it. It will be great fun. Look out for the Evite in your mailbox. Please come and make it a success.