My friends Lauren and Tim had a 50th birthday party, and things have definitely changed since I was a kid. My birthday is on Christmas, so I thought Santa Claus was a clown somebody hired for the occasion. I always wondered why everyone else was getting gifts at my party. One thing that hasn’t changed over the years is that you had better figure out a way to keep all those kids at the party entertained, or they’re going to destroy your house in a matter of minutes. Kids are like termites- if you see one in your house, chances are there are probably more someplace that you can’t even see, like under the floorboards. You can get rid of them by using boric acid. I should mention that I’m referring to the termites, I don’t think you should try using boric acid on kids. But if it actually worked everyone would have heard about it by now.

The party was a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon. They had a couple musicians singing and playing guitar, and that was mainly for adults, because you should not put kids in charge of the music under any circumstances. If you don’t believe me look up “Baby Shark” on Youtube. It’s hard enough keeping myself out of trouble at my own parties, let alone trying to figure out what to do with the kids. Once I wore a white shirt and black pants, and I was carrying three drinks and somebody I didn’t know took two of them and ordered another. I never found out who it was but I did find out that most of my friends are notoriously bad tippers.

Lauren and Tim didn’t take anything for granted. They had a bouncy castle, one of those giant inflatable structures that you usually see on the news as it’s bouncing down the street in gale force winds. This one was nailed in pretty good, and it had a basketball court inside. It made me wonder if I could dunk a basketball while bouncing down the street in gale force winds.

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They had two guys rolling Cuban cigars, at least that’s what they told everybody. There was a big cloud forming on the pool deck, and it was pretty crowded up there so they were rolling in the aisles. I’m not allowed to smoke cigars, because every time I have one in my hand I start talking like Edward G. Robinson. “Listen, see, one hand washes the other, see, you play ball with me and I’ll play ball with you, see, you scratch my back I’’ll scratch-” THWACK! That’s when my wife slaps me, either thinking that I might be having a hallucination or because she missed an earlier opportunity.
They had a cotton candy machine in case the youngsters might run out of energy. You take a paper cone and swish it around inside the cotton candy machine, and bingo! You have a big pink swirly web of sugar that looks like a hairdo at the nursing home! Plus it’s made of a breathable fabric. 

Then it was time for the piñata! They had a small papier mâché horse, and the idea is that they blindfold you, spin you around, you try to whack it with a stick, and eventually you break four car windows and a knee cap. I don’t know how the whole thing got started, but it seems a little like beating a dead horse. I don’t want to beat a dead horse if I can help it, and I don’t know why I didn’t help it when it was still alive. But the main thing I forgot to mention, is that the horse is filled with candy. So little kids were whacking the crap out of this piñata, and nothing was happening. The piñata must have been made of papier mâché reinforced with rebar, and whack as they might, even a big fat kid couldn’t bust open this thing. I thought they were going to have to get out a Milwaukee Sawzall and a blowtorch to rescue that candy. Finally the birthday boy grabbed the stick and whacked it so many times I thought we were going to have to call the paramedics. “Yes, over there, the guy with the stick might need oxygen. But while you’re here, would you mind opening the chest cavity of that little horse over there??”

Meanwhile more kids were streaming in, and they were threatening to overrun the catering table. If I was in charge I would have grabbed a whistle and a clipboard and divided the kids into four groups. Okay you kids head over to the piñata, this group is playing “blind man’s bluff,” this group is going to play tag and the rest of you are doing “pin the tail on the donkey.” Already I have a good portion of the children blindfolded, and the rest of the children are hiding from them, and for good reason. Now the traffic near the chicken fingers has subsided, so I parallel park myself over there. I’m always surprised at how big a chicken’s fingers are compared to the rest of its body.

It’s obvious to me that Lauren and Tim should be working as consultants on how to keep a million kids busy at your party, so that you can have an adult conversation and not worry that children are going to say things about math or current events that you’re not going to understand. It was a win-win situation. We had a great time, and I’m sure everyone left happy and most people took their kids back home with them. But I wouldn’t be surprised if they woke up Monday and there was a leftover kid or two in the yard, with a cotton candy and a piñata stick, smoking a Cuban cigar.
Join Rick and the Trillium vocal group for some love and harmony at 12 Peekskill Lounge Friday evening, June 21, 8:30 p.m. at 12 North Division Street, performing with Sun Solo

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