Friday, May 18, 2007
The Party That Ate Bay Ridge
Next year I'm going to stick a candle in Twinkie and call it a day.
That is, God willing, I'm still here, and haven't keeled over or been driven mad by the supreme agita I've got over this 50th birthday party I'm throwing for myself tonight.
This thing is like the Blob—it keeps getting bigger. I just ordered an extra tray of food to feed these people and I’m still not sure if I have enough.
I keep hearing from people I assumed—oh, that evil word!—weren’t coming. When the hell did I get so popular? Most weekend nights I can’t get arrested and now I’m going to have more bodies around me than Donald Trump. Only I don’t have his money.
And the things I worry about. First I was worried there wouldn't be enough people. Now I'm worried there will be too many.
I caught myself this afternoon worrying that my friends coming in from Manhattan might get mugged on the train coming in, or jumped on the streets as they walked down to the bar where I'm having this thing.
How did I ever make it to 50 without being locked up in an insane asylum?
Do I still have time to skip town? Is there a birthday boy relocation program that will spirit me off to Paraguay under an assumed name, a new identity and a different birthday? If so, sign me up.
What was I thinking? Why would I choose to celebrate being 5 decades old? Merely because I did it? Giant redwoods and box turtles do that and a hell of a lot more and no one throws them any parties.
I am nowhere closer to where I want to be in this life than I was when I was 40…or 30 for that matter. I hate my job, I don’t have a girlfriend, and I can’t stand where I’m living. This is cause to celebrate?
Over There, Over There
Oh, but what if it works? What if it goes well and the food is good and my friends and loved ones have a great time and every one talks about my party for weeks, months to come? Wouldn’t it had been worth all this expense and worry?
Hell, no. Take me to Paraguay.
I think of all those years when I told everyone I didn't want a big party; I just wanted a quiet evening with my close friends and family members.
And then my birthday would roll around and I'd mope to myself, gee, I wish I had thrown a big party for myself. Schmuck! I didn't know when I had it good.
All right, the truth is you throw parties for your guests, not yourself. Your happiness and comfort is not the issue here. You get people together so they can have fun and stuff their faces. You’re happy, you’re not happy—who cares? It’s only your birthday. The event is bigger than you.
Last we took my sister out on her birthday to see “Journey’s End,” a very powerful play about World War I. The drama takes place entirely inside a trench, with a flight of stairs leading ominously up toward the light of day. And certain death.
When the massive enemy assault begins, the commanding officer tells one of his frightened men that "it’s time to go up—you have to go up!” He pretty much chases the poor guy out into the battle.
Well, I think I have an idea how that jittery officer feels. I don’t want to go through with this, but I have to. It’s for the greater good.
Okay, I'm ready. I'm going over the top. See you on the other side.
And save me a package of Twinkies.