The party my sister hosted for my nephew Jack's first birthday last weekend made a lot of people very, very angry. Of course, it was a beach-themed party, so you can see how there was a lot of built-in potential for tension.
Raphael and I flew back to Ohio to celebrate with the family, only we didn't tell the parental half of the family. What's the point in being an adult if you can't freak your parents out every once in awhile, we always say. This was gonna be so great. Mom and dad would come out into the backyard and...Ha ha! Surprise! We're in Ohio! And we're leaving tomorrow! Ha ha! Stop crying! Like that.
Technically, nobody was angered by our unexpected appearance at first. My mother ran away when she saw us, but that turned out to be not so much out of shock as out of the fact that she had left a camera on the sidewalk or something.
But then they started thinking about it.
Dad: You had Julie pick you up in Dayton? You know, we're only twenty minutes away from the airport...
Mom: We could've picked you up.
Dad: It would've made all kinds of better sense for us to pick you up.
Mom: I could've spent all day yesterday with you.
Dad: Julie, what kind of gas mileage do you get?
Mom: We could've gone shopping.
Dad: Criminy. This is ridiculous.
Dad: That's it. We're leaving. Lobster-shaped cookies be damned to hell.
But my parents are nothing if not resilient, so once we pulled out the lobster cookies and the Chinese barbequed pork, we were back on to party.
Most of us, anyway.
Soon after the food arrived, it became apparent that the Birthday Boy had no intention of "partying". For whatever reason, the cake seemed to anger him. Maybe it was taunting him very, very quietly. Maybe he'll just be one of Those People That Don't Like Cake. Whoever they are.
Jack: I'm terribly sorry, but... What. Exactly. Is that? Is that a cake? A cake? Seriously? Are you people imbeciles?!? I want no cake! In fact, I will not tolerate cake in my house! WAAAHHHH!
Cake: Bwuah ha ha ha!
And then there was the awkward moment when Eugene blew out the candle. Being a doctor and therefore presumably having some experience with these things, he must have assumed that his one-year-old son was not yet proficient enough in his coordination or perhaps wouldn't yet have the lung capacity to successfully blow out the candle on his own birthday cake. Or maybe Jack just seemed too angry to blow straight. For whatever misguided reason, Eugene blew out the candle.
Oh! The icy stare Julie gave him! A cold wind blew through the assembled guests and somebody gasped. A woman fainted. There was a piercing scream. A clock chimed as an owl hooted and flew away on silent wings. And -- somewhere -- a beagle-mix barked...
Eugene: What? He's only one! And angry! His aim would be way off!
Julie: Jack has to blow it out! It's his birthday cake!
Eugene: Oh, fine. Here, let me light it again...there. Now Jack can blow it out.
Julie: (puffs up cheeks) phoo!
Eugene: You're not a better parent than me, you know. You're just way more obnoxious.
But despite the tension that permeated the party, it was all very nice. No one drowned in the kiddie pool and Jack eventually recovered from having delicious, sugary icing forced into his mouth while thirty people stared and cooed adoringly at him.
Tomorrow, I'll tell you about how we took Jack and Raphael to Fairborn's annual Sweet Corn Festival for the first time ever -- oop...just did.