Sometimes, I wish I had kids.
Not for the usual, more obvious reasons — the glorious experience of giving birth; the sight of a sweet little face lisping, “I love you, Mommy,” before she nods off to sleep; the idea that someone might feel obligated to massage your bunions when you’re old.
No, sometimes I wish I had kids because it would give me someone I could really embarrass, especially in their teen years. This occurred to me as I was having a conversation (actually, it was a textversation) with my sister about planning for her daughter’s graduation party.
They live in Florida, where graduation parties are apparently even more elaborate than the fancy garage parties that are de rigueur in our area. She wondered aloud what she would do as a “theme” for Courtney’s bash this spring, which apparently is expected to be somewhere between an inaugural ball and Coachella.
Foolishly, naively, I suggested she do what our Mom did: Bake an angel food cake and invite Aunt Regina. Crickets. I figured she was so busy writing down my fantastic idea that she didn’t have time to text me back.
So I decided to amp up my idea a bit. “Maybe an ice cream sundae party, with an array of fancy flavors and toppings?”
Silence. “I went to a party a couple of years ago in which they rented a cotton candy machine and made the cotton candy with Jolly Ranchers,” I added, hopefully. “They had a big campfire in the backyard and it was a huge hit!” (Except it actually read: “They had a big cramps barn in the backyard and it was a nougat!” because I was audiotexting. )
Finally, she responded: “LOL. I wish. She is probably expecting me to rent a tent and hire a DJ.”
I felt a pang of sympathy for Bertha, as well as for the legions of parents out there who are already agonizing over how to throw a graduation party that will require hiring caterers, transforming an oil-stained garage and dog poo-filled backyard into Lincoln Center Plaza and hiring Ken Burns to adequately capture the pathos, upheaval and adventure of their 18-year-old child’s life. That’s when I was hit by a lightning bolt of inspiration.
“You know what you should do?” I responded. “You should send increasingly more terrible and embarrassing party ideas to her, and act like you are 100 percent serious.”
She responded with a couple of question marks.
“Like: ‘Guess what, Courtney? I just hired the clown for your party! For an extra $25, he will squirt guests with a seltzer bottle!”
And then: “Oh, and your Uncle Frank has agreed to man the kissing booth!”
And: “Remember that hilarious video in which you were 2 ½ and got stuck in the potty chair? We found a way to make it into an e-vite and have sent it to everyone in your class! Isn’t that neat?”
Or maybe: “Your dad and I were thinking it would be really cool if we wore costumes. Like, I could be Harley Quinn and he could be Chucky from 'Child’s Play.' Except no one would know who he was. He would just quietly walk up to people and stand too close to them and stare at them. Wouldn’t that be ‘lit,’ as you kids say?”
Or: “We just felt like a popcorn bar or an ice cream bar is so overdone. We thought a kimchi cake and a fermented foods bar might really be cool? After all, now that you’re all high school graduates, you need to pay attention to adult things like your digestive health! And speaking of adult things, we thought it might be helpful if we set up a tax-preparation booth for your friends who have started working … “
At that point, I’m pretty sure she blocked my number. Oh well. I guess the youth of America will not benefit from my party-planning prowess.
Let them eat angel food cake …
Readers can reach columnist Tammy Swift at email@example.com.