Personal Statement

Personal Statement

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Adventures in Party Planning: Self-Help Birthday Remedies

"Self-help" is a legal term describing corrective measures taken without recourse to legal proceedings. A common example is when a landlord locks out a breaching tenant and/or removes the tenant's personal property from the leased premises. Automobile repossession is another.

Self-help remedies are available to the extent permitted under the law (in most jurisdictions, the law permits self-help in commercial transactions and in landlord/tenant relationships, and you may also see self-help rights in connection with tort and nuisance actions) but then only to the extent that they may be accomplished without committing a breach of the peace.

You're probably wondering where I'm going with this.

No, I haven't confused my personal blog with my work one. See, my birthday is coming up on Friday (did I mention that my birthday is on Friday? Oh, yeah, I guess I did). I never have been a big party person where my own birthday is concerned - ironic, given that I love to throw parties for others. I also have never stopped to consider why that is the case - although I would hazard a guess that false modesty initially at the heart of the matter.

One of the nice things about getting older is that false modesty tends to fall by the wayside. Another nice thing about getting older - nice friends throw you a really huge 40th birthday shindig, and you actually allow yourself to enjoy said shindig (yet another benefit!). And then you find yourself wondering: "Well, why does the fun have to end at 40?"

So this year when asked how I wanted to observe my birthday, I had actual opinions:

1) Birthday dinner with the family (including parents, grandmother and mom-in-law) on the actual day.

2) Saturday morning spent with the small fry, enjoying the members-only preview party of some animatronic dinosaur exhibit that is coming to our zoo and that I suspect is the same animatronic dinosaur exhibit that we saw at said zoo a few years ago, and at the museum before that, and at Moody Gardens in Galveston before that. Parker is too young to remember Dinosaur Encounters 1, 2 or 3, and he is very excited about Dinosaur Encounter 4. He is particularly excited that he gets to see them FIRST (before their very existence is tainted by the fact that OTHERS HAVE SEEN THEM - note to marketing types, PREVIEW PARTIES GO OVER HUGE WITH SIX YEAR-OLDS, I guess because six year-olds tend to think that they are more important than other humans, and preview parties play right into this dysfunction). He is also excited that THE PREVIEW PARTY STARTS AT O' DARK THIRTY, because this means that we can attend on our way to soccer. Well, not on our way to soccer, because soccer is in an entirely different direction, but you get the idea.

While I'm not overly thrilled about the o' dark thirty part, it does resolve the scheduling conflict - and, if I wasn't going to be looking at animatronic dinosaurs at that early hour, I would be participating in Race for the Cure in the same time slot, so "sleeping in" just wasn't on the birthday agenda, no matter how you sliced it.

3) A Saturday adult night out. It just so happens that on this Saturday night the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History is having one of its adults-only deals, where they keep the museum open late so that you can check out the new traveling exhibit sans rugrats. They serve food, there's live music and a cash bar. Never been before - we've always had a conflict of one sort or another - but I have wanted to attend, and how perfect that there is an opportunity to do so that is "birthday party adjacent"?

But first things first - my family asked for gift suggestions. And I actually had some suggestions to make, and they involved things that were wrappable. This is momentous. Typically, I can't think of anything that I want, or else I ask for ridiculously practical things and/or things that you can't put in a bag or a box. (Like organic compost tea and cottonseed meal - which, small confession, actually were on my list for this year, because I really do need to amend the soil in the front yard, where the score is Boxwoods and St. Augustine zero, Sucky Clay Soil eleventy bazillion. But there were other items on the list - fun, wrappable items.)

The great thing about wrappable gifts is . . . I get to wrap them. When we first got married, Parnell insisted on wrapping his Christmas gifts to me, which was sort of a bummer, because I am a skilled and enthusiastic wrapper, and I guess I thought that one of the perks of being married was TWICE THE STUFF TO WRAP? Parnell is not as skilled a wrapper as I am. He's good, as guys go, but not as skilled as me, and I could also tell that he was not particularly enthusiastic about the whole process - and yet he insisted on doing the work himself when there was another, entirely viable option, in the form of HIS SKILLED AND ENTHUSIASTIC WRAPPER OF A WIFE.

It took two years for the whole thing to come to a head. I blurted out, "Why do you insist on wrapping things sort-of badly and denying me the pleasure of wrapping them well?" (Those probably weren't my exact words; it was a long time ago. But you get the idea.) The response from my spouse (again, paraphrasing): "You take such time and care to wrap my gifts that I thought that you would be offended if I didn't do the same thing for you." AHA - it's a gift of the Magi thing! No, for the record, NO OFFENSE WILL BE TAKEN; in fact, I would love to wrap for you. BIG sigh of relief from the spouse - and I've been wrapping most of the gifts ever since. (Occasionally he wraps a couple, just for grins and giggles, but the bulk he seals in boxes and hands over to me for further handling.)

So I have had the pleasure of wrapping some gifts for myself this year, and I settled on a rather girlyish color scheme involving pink paper with a repeating cupcake sprinkle pattern that reverses to brown paper with a repeating cupcake sprinkle pattern. They turned out cute, which made me want people to see them, so I found myself making the following suggestion to my spouse, when he asked where I wanted to dine on my birthday:

"Well, we could eat at home. We have a Groupon for Nothing Bundt Cakes that is about to expire and a LivingSocial voucher good for a carryout gourmet dinner from Feastivities - entree, salad and bread. So you wouldn't have to cook. Our house gets cleaned on Tuesday, and we should be able to keep it clean for three days. I could set a festive party table - you know, so you wouldn't have to do it."

Translation: I just planned and catered my own birthday, availing myself of a self-help option that, while not technically permitted under the law, isn't denied under the law, either.

And no breach of the peace was involved. My darling boy knows better than to get in my way when the party wheels are turning. He didn't utter a peep, for example, when I decided to cut out paper bunting flags to trim the cake plate on which he will be placing my NBC cake, PREFERABLY A LEMON ONE WITH SIGNATURE ICING AND A PINK FLOWER. Because he understands that planning the party (now that I give myself license to have one) is like a bonus gift to me. One that can't be wrapped in pink sprinkle cupcake paper.

But if there's any paper left over . . . I'm thinking table runner.

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