Chip had a birthday last week and I threw a party. The local birthday tradition dictates that you must hire between two and (in this case) five young people in their 20s to come to your party in costumes and sing, dance and amuse the mini-guests throughout the afternoon.
After an attempt at an abstract conversation about the choice of party “animación” as it is called with C several months ago, we hired a group to be “Hi 5”, that beloved quintet of originally Aussie actors who have been amusing kids on TV since the mid 90s. Our guest list was composed of some 45 adults and 20 children so I threw a theme party for the grownups too. And in the spirit of Hi 5´s origins, it was of course a Down- Under party.
An inflatable 4 ft kangaroo set the stage, along with full-page color prints of Harbour Bridge, the Sydney Opera, Steve Irwin and Paul Hogan of course and countless crocs and koalas. Furniture was moved, the walls were covered with streamers and balloons and most breakable electronics hidden from reach of sticky little fingers.
Sausage rolls and steak sandwiches were on the menu for the adults and the little folks ate hot dogs rolled in empanada wrappers (empa-panchos, as I like to call them). Copious amounts of potato chips and humus, guacamole and baba ganoush were on hand too (not very Aussie, I admit, but they are our favorite spreads…)
Once the “animación” was well underway and the kids bounced around the living room to the sounds of Hi 5 in Spanish (Cinco sentidos, tengo cinco sentidos, cuantos hay, Hi 5…) the adults were divided into two teams for a friendly game of Austra-trivia. Questions ranged from the Animal Kingdom (are kangaroos nocturnal o diurnal) to the country´s origins (where were the explorers who “discovered” Australia from? and yes, it´s a trick question, if you said England, you are wrong…) to Culture and Sports. Where did I get such a game, you might ask? Oh, I made it. Yup, I am a nerd who´s cheap thrills are achieved by drafting trivia questions for my friends so that I can play a game at my son´s 3rd birthday. Might as well just embrace it. Once a nerd, always a nerd. Can´t teach an old nerd new tricks, and so forth….
I had a great time. No small feat considering I inherited my mother´s addiction to minor bouts of stress in the roll-up to a big social gathering at one´s home. I actually got to enjoy this party, my son, his friends, my friends, my family (my in-laws of course took over the cooking, both on the grill and in the oven, I expected nothing less..) and my dear old dad who just happened to be visiting and made my day by being there. I of course did NOT get to taste my amazing lamb-burger sausage roll, as nerves did away with my appetite until about 7 pm, long after the guests had departed. That was when I knocked back about three slices of my chocolate cream cheese birthday cake and promptly gave myself indigestion. But I did feel like I was part of this event and not just a crazed planner racing around on some surreal yet visible backstage of my own home.
Once the feliz cumple was sung, the cupcakes devoured and all of the presents unwrapped, we snacked on left-overs and sighed contentedly. It was just the sort of day I had wished for.