THE SONIC BOOMER
So, here’s a story I forgot to share… Just after New Year’s Eve, my husband Mark and I were invited to a child’s birthday party, because, well, we’re always invited to children’s birthday parties. It’s because we’re like giant children who can catch runaway balloons before they get too far and (this is key) are constantly cleaning up the area.
Because of the pandemic (“The Coveeny,” as one of the kids called it), this particular party was held in two adjoining hotel rooms and the hotel pool — mostly the pool. It was great. The holidays were over, so nobody was there except the participants, their parents, and us. The parents commandeered the hot tub, and the kids had the entire pool all to themselves. The screaming! The splashing! The screaming! The swimming! The screaming!
Once the kids were duly exhausted, the party moved upstairs where a plastic tablecloth had been placed over the bed, a cake and small buffet graced the tablecloth, and a bunch of presents had been arranged nicely on the room’s desk. The kids ran next door to change out of their wet things and, when they were done, Mark and I went in to pick up all the swimsuits off the floor and hang them over the shower rod. We know our place.
Back in the party room, things were already in full swing. It’s a good thing nobody else was in that hotel. The noise level was high; the buffet looked like one of those movie scenes where an out-of-control police car has crashed into the fruit cart; and the candles on the cake were being lit and quickly blown out before the fire sprinklers got a whiff of them.
Together with some more practical gifts, the birthday girl received a small cotton candy machine and a large face-painting kit, so soon we all had cones of spun sugar in one hand and grease crayons in the other. I know it’s not very mature of me, but I love this kind of thing. I was especially touched when one little boy stared up at me expectantly and announced, “I want to be a leopard” — as if I knew how to accomplish that. I mean, I’ve never even seen a leopard up close (thank goodness), but one tries.
Across the room, a little girl was turning Mark into a red and black ladybug around his mustache. The phones were out as the adults Googled things like “Batman,” “clown” and “lion” while the kids confidently went freestyle.
Suddenly, the cotton candy machine broke down mid-cone. Tragedy! Devastated, the coneless kid started crying, and the noise level went up even more as various repair theories were desperately shouted out. A search was launched for the instruction book. Mark quietly excused himself and fled to the hotel bar.
I couldn’t blame him. He’d been good for so long.
Eventually, the machine was fixed, the party ended, and the children’s faces were washed back to normal. As they fell happily asleep in the next room, their parents and I cracked open a bottle of wine. We were sitting around chatting when Mark returned from the bar. He was noticeably calmer. He’d downed at least one scotch and watched a whole football game.
And the bartender hadn’t said a word about him looking like a ladybug.