I looked at some 8mm film that I had transferred to DVD. Within the collection of family memories was my fifth birthday party (1963). The party was held in our two-bedroom apartment in Laurelton, Queens. I had 10 friends in attendance.
Apparently I was more popular at 5 than I am now.
We ate pizza and cake and played pin the tail on the donkey. According to the footage, everyone then ended up in my room where we all played with my toys. That was followed by a game of hide-and-seek outside (A good time was had by all).
Let’s jump to 2011. No longer is it socially acceptable to invite a handful of kids to your house for passé party games … it’s not even enough if you spurge for a magician or face painter or balloon twister … not even if you include the magician, face painter and balloon twister.
It’s no longer a party. It’s a spectacle. It can be viewed from outer space along with the Great Wall of China (Presently the number one Bar-Mitzvah destination … The Great Wall of China that is … Space is number two). In order for your 3-year-old to show his face in pre-school without feeling humiliated, you better rent the Bronx Zoo for an afternoon for your child and his 300 closest friends. The magician, face painter and balloon twister each takes his place on one of three elephants.
Keeping the theme going (you must have a theme) everyone is transported via rented limo buses to Broadway where you have paid for a private performance of the Lion King. This is followed by a fireworks display on the Hudson during your private Circle Line cruise around the city with the cast of Lion King (in costume) as special guests.
Thankfully my kids have a winter birthday so unless my wife plans on renting out the NY Islanders for a hockey game … in which case my money would be on the kids winning, I refuse to take out a second mortgage for a 4-year-old party. We are already fighting about this. My wife drew up a list of approximately 75 kids. She also created a PowerPoint presentation of several party sites and activities.
No one seems to trust kids to have fun by their own making. My parents gave me a ball and let me go to the park ... with my friends … unsupervised. And don’t tell me it was a safer time. There were just as many perverts then too. My father was president of the pervert club and said the meetings were always packed.
Today, you don’t just give a kid a ball. You must hire a place that simulates the outdoors…indoors. They have 16-year-old employees who are paid $4 an hour to watch the kids and show then a ball is round ... you can throw it … and catch it … and pick it up. Thankfully, the kids get pizza too and you only have to pay $1,000 for two hours. A bargain at any price.
Here’s an idea for a mattress store. Do birthday parties. Call it Bounce Land. Let kids jump on the mattresses in the showroom for an hour. Give them pizza. Charge $500 and trust me, just like the movie "Field of Dreams," build it and they will come.
One last thought before I have my daily embolism. The reason no one plays "pin the tail on the donkey" anymore:
- PETA deems it cruelty to animals.
- Blindfolding children is offensive to the blind.
- The pin can be used as a weapon and we should have zero tolerance.