You’re invited ... to spend a lot of money
The Powerball just crossed $300 million so I bought five tickets. It’s an impossible dream, but if I could just win this, I could maybe pay off the bill for my son’s 5th birthday party.
He turned 5 a few weeks ago. Since all 5-year-olds are required by federal statute to have an elaborate birthday party, my wife and I no longer have any money, even after selling our kidneys.
Parents are in the midst of a birthday party arms race, similar to the trillion-dollar US-Soviet nuclear arms race back in the ‘80s, only more expensive, and with cupcakes.
It starts when you receive an invitation in the mail.
It’s from one of your kid’s classmates. It will be an elaborate gathering, held at an expensive venue. There will be a beautiful cake and decorations. Beyoncé may be performing.
Compare this to YOUR child’s birthday. You planned on serving half-burnt homemade cupcakes after the kids played “Pin the tail on the donkey.” You assumed this would be a perfectly acceptable birthday party. You fool.
The bar has been raised, and you will struggle to keep up. After all, HIS parents spared no expense. The party is at Bananas, Get Air, or the Fruita Community Center. There will be balloons, food, party favors. At some point, Superman will arrive. I’m not talking about a guy dressed up like Superman. I mean the REAL superman, Christopher Reeve, who happens to be dead, but like I said, they went all out.
The invitation will ask you to RSVP.
We have truth-in-lending laws, so let’s institute a “Truth-in-Kid’s Birthday Party Invitation” law, shall we? I never know what to do at these things so I want the invitation to have specific instructions.
“Jayden is turning 5!” the headline will read.
“You’re invited! Bring an officially licensed Marvel action figure stuffed in a re-used gift bag you found in the closest.
“And don’t whine about the cost. We’re giving your snot-nosed brat pizza, cake and three hours of fun at Bananas. So shut up and buy a gift. Consider it his cover charge.
“And we’re talking a real gift, too. Don’t try to pawn off one of those Dollar Store coloring books on us. We don’t believe in fat shaming, but we strongly believe in ‘Dollar Store’ gift shaming.
“This isn’t Bethlehem and your kid is not the little drummer boy. Pony up for a Lego set, or Nerf Gun, or some other present that my child will truly appreciate for at least 120 seconds.”
My invitation will continue….
“At some point, pizza will be brought out. This is for the kids only. I don’t want to see any grownups elbowing out little Marcus for the last slice.
“If, for some reason, your ill-behaved spawn doesn’t eat all of his pizza, you can scarf down the few remaining shards of hard crust he left uneaten after he just spent 10 minutes relentlessly fondling it with his bacteria-infested hands. Bon appetit.
And let’s be clear: your kid WILL sing “Happy Birthday” to my child, or I will personally revoke his Minion-decorated cupcake and eat it in front of him in a mocking manner.
‘Mmm,’ I’ll say for effect, mouth full of deliciousness, ‘This is SOOO Yummy! Gosh, Brennan, I guess you should have sang, shouldn’t you?’”
That’s what a REAL birthday invitation will say. It will sound mean, as if written by a man with anger issues, which it is, but at least every parent will understand.
After all, we parents used to have lives, with weekends full of happy, lazy fun. Now we spend every single Saturday at places like Chuck E. Cheese, instead of someplace quieter, such as a gun range.
Of course, I realize there’ll come a time when I miss all this. One day I’ll be lonely and old, and have bladder control issues, and engage in conversations with people while completely unaware there is meatloaf stuck on my lip. Still, even 50 years from now, I know I’ll always be able to remember my son’s 5th birthday party.
Especially since I’ll still be paying for it.