A most joyous and happy birthday goes out to my lovely friend, Stephanie, who is old today. For her birthday present, she is making me a birthday cake (what with my own, more special and joyous birthday looming on the horizon). The birthday cake will be a Princess Aurora doll cake, per my mother's instructions to her. Yea, verily I am giddy with anticipation. Forsooth.
I was talking to a friend on Sunday--we'll call her "L. Bowman" for anonymity's sake--about birthdays. I don't recall how we came to the subject of bad birthdays, but apparently she's had a few. Most of these bad birthdays occurred in her childhood. It's here that I would normally throw in a "that explains a lot" crack, but she's bad off enough as it is without me rubbing it in.
Shortly after she relayed the tale of her worst birthday to date, I informed her most seriously that she would be reading about it on my blog. She demanded to hear my version at that very moment but was disappointed to learn that I am hardly as articulate in reality as I am when I write. In fact, my version went something like, "Uh...your birthday sucked and your parents don't love you?" So this entry is specifically for Mrs. Bowman and no one else. The rest of you can go about your business.
Mrs. B. was about nine years old when the following horror was inflicted upon her. She (and the rest of her family I'm assuming; I'm hoping they didn't regularly force her out and make her move on her own) had recently moved to a new neighborhood where she had yet to acquire any new friends. Her birthday had arrived. Her mind only hinted at suspicious activity when her sister became anxiously engaged in keeping her occupied in the family van whilst her parents went inside the house and fiddled around. Finally Mrs. B was permitted inside and was met with any birthday girl's dream: a surprise birthday party! With absolutely no attendees! Well, that's not entirely accurate. In lieu of the friends she should have had, her parents summoned her stuffed animal collection and gathered them around the living room for the "surprise" part of the party. Said animals neither hinted at being surprised for her nor even happy to see her on this most special of personal holidays.
It is my understanding that surprise parties are usually considered a surprise in large part because the well wishers typically do not live in your house and have made considerable effort to not only be there for your happy moment, but have also gone to great lengths to keep their coming attendance a secret from you. It is also my understanding, which was also explained repeatedly by Mrs. B. in a most frustrated tone, that only three-year-olds would be both surprised and impressed that their stuffed animals had both kept the party a secret and bothered to make the arduous trek from her room to the actual party locale two rooms away. A nine-year-old is not nearly as impressed by such tight-lipped effort on the part of inanimate objects she likely no longer associates with on a regular basis; such really only reinforces the reminder that no living persons could be rounded up to attend her very real birthday party. "Surprise honey! You have no friends!"
Personally, I've only had one surprise birthday party in my life and my friends threw it for me as I was turning 16 (not precicely as I was turning 16, but around that time). I probably should have suspected something was up when I heard my parents arguing about something, culminating in my mother yelling, "JUST GET HER OUT OF THE HOUSE ALREADY." And so my dad took me to the mall. Now, as I said, I should have suspected something was up if only that were the first time someone was desperate to get me out of the general area of where he or she was. That the person was my mother was also not a surprise as in my teen years neither of us was much fond of the other's company in large doses. So her assertion that I be removed from her presence immediately didn't shock me in the least. Fortunately, when I returned I was greeted by many friends with many gifts and one birthday cake (made by the mother who wanted me out of the house). It was lovely. Now, you see how a surprise birthday party is supposed to happen, L. Bowman? We'll have to throw one for you one day. I'll be sure and invite the lawn furniture.