I went to four birthday parties last week.
That is a lot of cake and ice cream and candles. Singing “Happy Birthday” and giving presents, exchanging good wishes and big hugs. I could not get enough of it. I love birthdays, anybody’s birthdays, though my birthday is always my favorite.
At Daliah’s party, I met a crowd of her cousins and ate a cupcake from Sprinkles (discarding a wad of frosting in a cocktail napkin because it was too rich and it’s not like I could find anyone who’d eat my leftover frosting anyway) and homemade ceviche. There was grapefruit soda for me because I am not much of a drinker. We friends and family went around the room, introducing ourselves and sharing our fondest wishes for the birthday girl. Daliah’s cats slunk around, accepting cuddles and scritches and (this was the best part) letting people carry them in their arms as though they were infants.
Little H turned 7 with a party at her favorite ice cream parlor in Oak Park. The children played games, led by a couple of very patient and energetic parlor employees, while the adults drank coffee and talked about vaccinations. We all made our own sundaes. I buried my modest scoop of vanilla ice cream under two cups of cookie crumbs, a gallon of chocolate sauce, and three shovelfuls of rainbow sprinkles. And then I drank root beer and had a cup of tea. I kind of wish I had checked my blood sugar after and then emailed what I’m sure would have been an absurdly high number to my physician to wig him out.
That evening, I got to sit next to Cee at her birthday dinner, which was at my favorite tapas restaurant. I ordered croquetas and queso de cabra and raxo adobado in semi-coherent Spanish, drank one glass of sangria and three diet cokes. I had packed a Magical Birthday Candle to light while we ate dessert.
If you don’t know what a Magical Birthday Candle is, then you have not been birthdaying right. Seriously, look at this video:
Cee happened to have a Magical Birthday Candle on her (one which I had left at her house the last time I dog-sat for her) so we had not one but TWO candles and it was pretty epic if I do say so myself.
After Cee’s dinner, Leah and I split a taxi to a wine bar in Wicker Park so we could join the end of Jacqui’s celebration. I was feeling all sassy for some reason (I guess that is what drinking sangria and inhaling pork and goat cheese will do to a person) so of course I slipped and nearly fell on my ass upon entering the bar. Which was super awesome. I produced another Magical Birthday Candle from my purse and my ridiculous entrance was, I hope, quickly forgotten as soon as we lit that sucker up.
I used to worry about getting somebody the perfect present or writing the best birthday card ever. But the present isn’t as important as the presence (yours, of course — SEE WHAT I DID THERE), and as long as you write what is in your heart then the birthday card will pretty much take care of itself.
Try not to be too late for any parties but if you must then apologize once, as succinctly as your host will allow, and get on with it.
Be generous in giving compliments, especially for artful eye makeup application, cool accessories, and terrible celebrity impressions.
Share your best dirty jokes. Beg your fellow guests for theirs.
Flirt shamelessly with babies, friendly pets and, if you happened to bring one, your date for the evening.
Leave room for birthday cake. Don’t let anybody give you shit if you don’t eat any.
Don’t volunteer to sort out the bill for a group dinner but don’t be difficult when it comes time to pay up after somebody else has done all the hard work either. Even if you ate nothing but a few lettuce leaves and drank nothing but the perspiration from the brow of the hard-working waiter, you are still expected to split the bill evenly (and save the griping for your secret Tumblr). You’re a grown-up. Act like one.
When it’s time to sing “Happy Birthday” sing as loud as possible and be the first to shout “HURRAY!” when the birthday girl blows out her candles.
Make sure everybody has gotten birthday cake before you have some yourself.
Say yes to the following birthday after-party ideas: champagne, karaoke, bowling, Ferris wheels, dancing (especially if it’s country or Chicago stepping), midnight movies, the Admiral.
Order Magical Birthday Candles in bulk.