A strange thing happened the other day. A personal letter came in the mail. I usually check my mail just enough to avoid the passive aggressive notes left by the mailman about “cleaning out my mailbox” and it didn’t seem outwardly like a bill. I cracked that open and noticed the names. It turns out my good friend is having a birthday party for his demon spawn. I haven’t been to a child’s birthday party since I was his age. What do kids these days like?
I always picture myself as the fun, drunk uncle rather than the poor bastard driving a mini-van.
Cam, his son, is a good and very outgoing child. He’s not weird and shy like most kids his age, and he and I share a similar taste for jokes about poop and Batman. I knew it was his wife’s (Donna) idea because usually my friend’s idea of quality time spent with his son involves having a few drinks before watching old WWF videos from when Stone Cold was shotgunning six-packs and driving his truck into the squared circle.
This child’s birthday party thing got me thinking: when did I become old enough to be invited to a kid’s birthday? I’m not married and I don’t have any kids that I know of, and you can’t exactly give the kid gifts I normally give my friends for their birthdays (read: booze). He’s never heard of Hey Arnold, Captain Planet, Megaman or any of the stuff I was into as a kid, so I had no idea what to expect. His parents spoil him and he owns every superhero action figure, Lego set, Nerf item, and video game under the sun. So with a Target gift certificate in one hand and a 12-pack of Yuengling in the other, I headed over to my first kid’s birthday party as an adult.
Upon arrival, I see more kids than I can count. Being around children makes me uncomfortable because I don’t have any, and I always assume people think I am a pedophile as a man around kids. Thankfully, my friend has a well-stocked fridge to which I added my beer donation to. If this sucks, I can always get drunk and pass out in the guest room like the last three times I was over. All of the other parents there have some form of alcoholic beverage in hand – the more things change, the more they stay the same.
The party is wonderfully catered with my all my favorite drunk foods. These foods also happen to be what kids love best: chicken fingers, fries, pizza, mac and cheese (the homemade good kind with crumbs on top), and mozzarella sticks. I notice that several of the parents are outpacing me in consumption. I assume it’s because they let their guard down with communal parenting. We all know what happens with the tragedy of the commons.
There is an itinerary. Donna has prepared several games I’m sure were inspired by Pinterest like corn hole, some stupid game where they throw stuff into buckets for points, egg toss, a three-legged race, and a balloon fight. I watch from afar as I pace myself to avoid my usual classification as the “drunkest person at any event I attend.” While I usually accept this honor with grace, being the drunkest at a child’s birthday party would not look good on my life resume.
Most of the parents sit under the awning with wanton disregard. My buddy built a new swing set and several of the kids have fallen down and are crying. Donna goes over to assess the damage because no one seems to care. Whatever. From my observation, there are cliques of children with one kid being an exceptional little bastard to all the others and to the adults. He is the biggest and fattest kid, and it ain’t even close. He had at least 40 pounds on every kid. He reminded me of those 120 lb. kids on Maury that polish off three pizzas in one sitting. When I was a kid, the fattest and biggest kid was also the biggest dickhead. Some things never change.
It’s clear that the fat kid is mean and he pushes the other kids around. He has cheated in all of the games and won all the stupid shit tchotchkes that were the “prizes” for the games. The other kids resent him. I feel like I’m watching Lord of the Flies. He talked back to Donna, the other adults, and even his “friends.” I suspect he was only invited because my friend and his wife were friends with his parents. Little Pugsly made sure to let everyone know how stupid all the games were and how bored he was. He was a walking birth control ad. The final event is coming up, and it’s the water balloon fight. Donna spared no expense and even bought the water balloons that look like grenades.
The kids were divided into teams. There was an odd number of kids. Cam asked if I wanted to join the festivities and be on his team since I was the next youngest person there. By this point, I was halfway through my 12-pack in an hour-and-a-half window and my competitive spirit was shining. That fat kid was also gloating about how good he was at baseball, how fast his throw was and how he would win. I felt like Billy Madison when they play dodgeball at recess. Target acquired.
I knew I couldn’t do anything but dodge, dip, dive, duck, and dodge. I was Cam’s powder monkey and he easily defeated other teams while I helped him keep a ready supply of grenade balloons. Sadly, he got hit and there were four. The Juggernaut got one, tried to get me and missed, then eliminated the other little girl. It was just the two of us. Fueled with America’s beer, I threw with my opposite hand and nailed that little porker in the back. With victory in hand, I knew I had sunk to a new low. I won a water balloon fight at a six-year-old’s birthday party.
Always the sore loser, fat boy complained it was unfair. His parents looked at me like a monster. You can tell this kid has never heard the word “no” in his life. To me, I felt like I was delivering justice. Sucks to suck, I guess..
Image via YouTube