Saturday, March 31, 2018


It had begun innocently enough: Henry’s Mom and Dad welcomed the guests and the parents dropping them off only stayed long enough to find out when to return to pick them up. The kids rushed in bearing their gifts, which were placed on a side table in the hall. Henry, who’d been waiting all day for the festivities to begin, grinned from ear-to-ear as he proudly showed off his new bike. It was purple, and had a banana seat and ape hanger handlebars with streamers.

But once everyone had arrived, Henry’s Mom (she said to call her Doreen) gathered everyone into the living room den and had them take off their shoes and sit in a circle on the shag carpet. Henry’s Dad (he said to call him Frank) turned down the lights and drew the curtains, so there was a lot of chatter, because this could only promise a really exciting game. Doreen put some music on the hi-fi, but it wasn’t party music; it was all sort of swirly. Frank plugged in a lava lamp and took his tie off. “Is everyone ready to learn what their futures hold?” Doreen asked, and all the boys shouted their assent.

Doreen sat down in the circle criss-cross-apple-sauce style and put her hands on her knees with her fingers pinched together, and asked everyone to do the same. There was some giggling, but they did it. Doreen started swaying a little, and then opened her eyes wide and said “Eric!” Eric grinned as his friends on either side poked him.
            “Eric!” Doreen continued, “You enjoy sports! You’re going to play baseball and make it to the major leagues!”
            Eric approved of this future wholeheartedly.
            Next, Doreen shifted and closed her eyes and opened them again and pointed to Peter, who hoped she’d predict he’d become an astronaut, like he hoped.
            “Peter!” she called, “You are into math and have a feel for calculations! You’re going to work at a big tax corporation as one of their accountants!”
            Peter looked dejected.
            “And you’re going to have a really nice car!” Doreen added. This softened the blow.
            “Me next, me next!” the boys shouted excitedly. Doreen moved again, closed her eyes, and opened them on Buddy.
            “Buddy!” she cried. Buddy hopped up and down on his behind awaiting his fate.
            “Buddy — I have bad news for you,” Doreen said. “You will be tempted by the dark side, and lead a life of crime.”
            “What?” Buddy exclaimed, but Doreen had moved on. The boys jostled, uneasy at this sudden turn in events, but expecting it to work out in the end.
            “Alex!” Doreen went on. “Alex, you will be a very successful businessman!” The boys cheered. “You will live in a huge mansion and marry a beautiful woman!” The boys roared. “But it won’t last!”
            Alex deflated. “It’s OK, nudged Ian, sitting next to him, “it isn’t real.”
            Doreen focused her attention on Boris, who stared back silently. “Boris!” She hesitated. “Boris! Your birth mother says she’s sorry, and regrets what she did. She wants me to tell you to avoid the evils of alcohol!”
            “Birth mother?” Boris said. The boys sat transfixed.
            Just as Doreen was about to reveal the fortune of another boy, Frank, who’d been smoking quietly in the corner, interrupted his wife by asking if anybody would like to loosen up a little, to which the party-goers responded gratefully. As they clambered up from the circle, Frank put some new music on the hi-fi and announced it was getting awfully hot in there. Doreen agreed, and started unbuttoning her blouse.
            “It’s the Age of Aquarius!” Frank shouted gleefully.
            At first, the boys were leaping about to the music, but as Henry’s parents began disrobing, the merriment came to an abrupt halt. Henry himself was missing. He must have slipped out.
            “That’s better,” Doreen announced as the last of her clothes came off, as if completely oblivious to the mortified stillness around her.
            “Come on, everybody,” Frank urged, pulling his pants down.

The boys rushed for the door, getting jammed in their rush to escape.
            “Where’s Henry?” Eric cried in a panic.
            They found him in the kitchen staring at his birthday cake. It was bright yellow, with the signs of the zodiac piped around the edge in yellow icing. The center held a sun made out of candy corn.
            “What’s wrong with your Mom and Dad?” Buddy cried.
            “What did she mean, my ‘birth mother’?” Boris kept repeating.

But Henry just sat there looking at his cake.
            “I hate candy corn,” he said. “How come she knows about everyone else but me?”


Children’s Parties Card #5 Age of Aquarius, Betty Crocker Recipe Card Library, 1971

See Also: An International Incident, Raggedy Ann Revisited, A SNAFU In The Jungle

Friday, March 30, 2018

Raggedy Ann Revisited

“Do you remember Denise’s Mom?”
            “Who can forget?”
            “What about that time she invited us all over for a tea party and served us margaritas?”
            “How old were we — six?”
            “That lady was broken. I mean, she tried, but come on — you can’t give kids hard liquor!”
            “So check what I found the other day at a yard sale. A set of Betty Crocker recipe cards from 1971.”
            “My Mom used to have one of those too!”
            “So I’m going through the cards for fun, because these recipes are whack — and look what I found.”
            “Rag Doll Tea Party. Sweet Jesus — that’s what she served us!”
            “I know, right? Because what little kid expects to be served a salad instead of cookies and lemonade?”
            “Ooh — lettuce! Celery! Raisins!”
            “What’s the hair made out of?”
            “Cheese. Is that a boiled egg for the head?”
            “No — it’s a marshmallow. I remember it being egg, though. Oh my God.”
            “No — I mean Oh my God, I just figured it out.”
             “The margaritas. She read it wrong. They were supposed to be meringues. They’re called ‘Marguerites.’”
            “How can you get that wrong?”
            “Girlfriend, everything about this is wrong. You need a cocktail to get through it. She was doing us a favor.”

Children’s Parties Card #15 Rag Doll Tea Party, Betty Crocker Recipe Card Library, 1971

See Also: An International Incident, Horrorscope, A SNAFU In The Jungle

Thursday, March 29, 2018

A SNAFU in the Jungle

Nac uoy ared shit? Fo erousc ton.

That’s because in English, we have spelling. Spelling, a thing that schools seem to think is the key to your future success as a human being, is all about putting the letters in the right order. Only sadists and serial killers mix the letters up to hide the message they’re sending — probably just to give themselves more time to commit whatever heinous act they get off on.

On a related note, some mothers take birthday parties a little too seriously. They forget that the only reason little Susie wants a party is so that she can play the Queen Bee and decide which of her classmates she’s going to invite or leave out in the cold as a crystal-clear message they’ve been shunned. The only reason the other kids go is to get high on sugar and run around for two hours and see what presents the other kids brought, hoping that theirs is the best.

The actual details don’t matter, so long as there is cake.

The one thing you want to avoid in planning a child’s birthday party is having it resemble school. This party game devised by the sinister and tortured souls at Betty Crocker hits all the marks:

            involves spelling difficult words 3
            requires writing 3
            is timed 3
            is judged 3
            only exists to kill time 3
            provides ample opportunity for humiliation 3

And to put the icing on the cake, as it were, let’s look closely at what they consider a “jungle” animal:

lion, elephant, monkey, peacock, flamingo, rhinoceros, tiger, bear, hippopotamus, seal, llama, giraffe, kangaroo, penguin.

Penguin, FFS.

This situation is NOT normal — it is all f*cked up.

Children’s Parties Card #3 African Safari, Betty Crocker Recipe Card Library, 1971

See Also: Raggedy Ann Revisited, An International Incident, Horrorscope
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