“Yes, I think your 17 other Build-A-Bears will get along quite nicely with Becky Bear even if she does look oddly like Dick Cheney.”
When the festivities end, we march off to get pizza. I look over my shoulder as we leave the store and see the birthday girl’s mother sobbing at the cash register, her trembling hand offering up several credit cards. I feel a twinge of guilt as I realize that I don’t even know what present we got for sweet little...um...
“Hey girls, whose party is this?”
We race home for the obligatory midday changing of clothes and then head off to our next party back in Burbank. As we pull up to party No. 2, my worst fears are realized. Outside on the lawn are six angelic little girls dressed in their Sunday’s finest, sitting properly with bonnets atop their heads and pinkie fingers pointing skyward. That’s right: tea party.
I offload the girls as I look for parking and toy with the idea of bolting. “I fell asleep in my car,” I would say to excuse myself when I picked them up. But once you play the narcolepsy card, you have to stick with it for years to come.
The girls eat crumpets and play with costume jewelry; make butterfly crafts and decorate picture frames. I reach for a bottle of cheap tequila and am handed a raspberry infused organic green tea with mint sprig in a fine China cup and saucer. While I sip, I lapse into a state of transcendental meditation and I’m sitting in a dingy bar near Chávez Ravine, arguing about Manny Ramirez and picking a fight with a Hell’s Angel.
At day’s end my mind is mush. The only thought in my head is this: When the hell did “cha cha cha” become a part of the lyrics to “Happy Birthday to You”?
We get home just in time for the sugar tremors to set in. I muscle the girls into their straitjackets, shove wooden spoons in their mouths and turn on the TV.
“Who lives in a pineapple under the sea...”
Coffee: $4. Toys: $53. Bail: $900. A day spent with the kids learning what stay-at-home parents go through: $2,798.
Sorry. Priceless, that’s what I meant. Priceless.
PATRICK CANEDAY is a Glendale-native freelance writer who lives and works in Burbank. He may be reached at patrickcaneday@ gmail.com.