Just as one cannot walk past a Kauai without slipping in for a quick Lemon Breeze and then slurping it with such determined alacrity that one develops a brain freeze so intense that one wonders if one has not dislodged a massive growth in one's brain leaving one frantically googling 'brain surgeons in Durban with very short waiting lists'; one cannot celebrate one's ageing without throwing a mammoth birthday party. I, for one, am a firm believer in this.
Birthday parties are special for those of non-drinking age and downright painful for everyone else.
And so it was that I threw myself into the meticulous planning of The Daughter's Birthday Party, and by 'meticulous planning', read 'sending out a few invitations, bolding my request for people to RSVP, and then forgetting when people did'.
As the day approached, I realised I was a little under prepared.
Sure I'd booked the 'walk on water balls' months before, but by the day before I hadn't actually received a) an email requesting immediate electronic funds transfer of half of hire cost to confirm booking; or b) telephone call advising me of the company's knowledge of my existence.
As evening approached, so did the fact that I did not actually have telephone number of said company in possession to try and garner information about their commitment to my plight dawn on me.
I poured an extra-large glass of wine and sat down with The Incubator and The Sister-In-Law (henceforth simply referred to as 'Sil' since that is what I actually call her) to do a wee spot of damage control.
The Pant: I'm screwed.
The Sil: You're not, my sil. We'll just set them out on the grass and play all those traditional games.
TP: Which traditional games?
Sil: Like "pass the parcel" and "pin the tail on the donkey" and "musical statues".
TP: Right. Those games that one needs to have bought prizes for?
Sil: You've got no prizes?
We sat for a few minutes, me drinking with focus, The Incubator and The Sil quietly puzzling in their brains.
The Incubator: I know! Let's just use the party packs as prizes!
A solid idea, really.
TP: I haven't organised party packs.
TI: Right. (Think think). Well, how many children are coming? Maybe we can load them up and take them to uShaka?
TP: I forgot to keep a list.
TI and Sil (in unison): You what?
TP: I forgot, okay? I thought I would remember but then I didn't because I was too busy remembering other things.
TI: Like what?
TP: Like... Like... Like my name for one! It has two syllables. And my ID number! And...
TI: You're screwed.
Sil: I'm going to have to agree with The Incubator on this one.
I cannot tell you the sheer relief I felt when the doorbell rang and a slight Indian man with weathered skin advised that he was on site to set up the pool and balls. I was so excited that I was almost tempted to open mouth kiss him but was prevented from doing so by the strongest scent of stale cigarette that seemed to have permeated right to the very core of his humanness. His skin was thick. You know the kind that would most certainly not be affected by the paper cut. In fact, were said man in need of, say, surgery, I fear that the scalpel would need to be replaced by one with rotating blades, powered by electricity. A jigsaw, perhaps.
With pool and balls erected betwixt bush (I just cannot avoid the sexual innuendo) I was more than happy to celebrate my fine event planning skills by draining the rest of my bottle of wine. Seriously, I was so damn good, I'd all but resigned from my job and set up my own events company. I thought I'd call it 'Party in my Pant(s)'.
I'd like to say that when the start time of the party came, I was as cool as a cucumber, sipping on a gin & dry lemon (excellent party day drink), welcoming guests with warmth, dressed in flowing whites with perfectly applied make-up and reeking of expensive perfume. But I'm afraid I can't. The first guests pulled in a good hour and seven minutes prior to the function's commencement - even before The Daughter had arrived from her morning engagement (The German Boyfriend's birthday party to which she went dressed as a vampire). By the time she arrived - EARLY! - there were already six children scuttling around the show.
And, by Jove, did they not stop arriving. By mid-afternoon I'd found two boys brushing their willies with The Daughter's toothbrush, one was found relieving himself in the corner of my kitchen, two had taken to playing the piano using suckers to pummel the keyboard. They were in cupboards, under tables, crawling out of drainpipes. They were in the balls, under the balls, diving headfirst into the sweets table.
And the parents! My personal favourite is one whom we'll simply refer to ask Dark Haired One. She was the one who spent the majority of last year's party angling to corner Larry - who, at the time, was faking it as my boyfriend - to stick her tongue so far down his throat that she'd end up licking his arse simultaneously.
Our initial greeting went something like this:
The Pant: (oh crap, her again) Hi Doll! So glad you could make it. Air kiss. Air kiss.
The Dark Haired One: Where's that h-h-h-hot man of yours?
TP: You met Christmas?!? And oh Lord, tell me about it, sister. That beefy beef sticks... All. Over. My- Hi, Dad. This is The Dark Haired One. Dark Haired One, this is my dad.
TDHO: No, wasn't his name Larry?
TP: Who? My dad? No, no-
TDHO: No, your boyfriend.
TP: Oh, him? No, he's long gone.
TDHO: (with feigned concern) Why?
Oh shit. I'd really not wanted to get into that.
TP: (with the seriousness of priesthood) No, darling. I've been emancipated!
TP: Sweetie darling! Can't you tell? I'm smiling again! That ship has sailed. And thank the good Lord too. Couldn't imagine any more days of tirelessly working at a deflated self-esteem any more than I did. Not to mention my own.
TDHO: Well, do you have his number?
TP: If I did Sweetie (I said as I stared at her teeth smeared in lipstick of an orange hue) you'd be the first person I'd give it to.
The Dark Haired One decided to dull her obvious pain by diving head first into the drinks and found by glass three, that she'd simply carry on. My Sil, bless her soul, took The Dark Haired One for one of my dear friends and struck up an instant friendship. Sadly, I didn't find the time to corner the sil and explain that this woman had about as much class as the back end of Belair and that if we encouraged her, we'd be in for some serious trouble.
However, by the time My Sil realised that The Dark Haired One was unable to converse in the socially accepted manner of you-speak-I-speak-you-speak, it was too late. (She prefers the I-speak-and-when-you-think-it's-your-turn-to-speak-I-shall-just-interrupt-you way of interacting.) She'd already announced to the entire party that she now had another reason to come and live in Durban: The Budding Friendship between herself and The Dark Haired One.
A good two and a half hours after the party, when my energy levels were so depleted I was on the verge of giving up my will to live, Dark Haired One removed herself from our company for a momentary bathroom break.
Sil: (with pronounced worry in her voice) She's nice.
The Pant: What!?!
Sil: Isn't she?
Sil: Have I got the whole thing wrong?
I spent the next couple of hours trying to surgically remove The Dark Haired One from the Sil, with little satisfaction until The Husband of The Dark Haired One rang to insist that she'd perhaps overstayed her welcome. I wanted to place the man on a pedastal and begin a mini-worship session. But my elation was short-lived. Because when she returned to her own home, with the express desire not to miss out on any fun had by those "new friends" she'd just acquired at the boozy birthday party of the 5 year old, she rang tirelessly to try and find an in into the inner-circle.
So, yes, my sil. You did get that one wrong. Big time.