It’s my party and I?ll cry if I want to

My birthday used to be my favourite day of the year. It’s not anymore. My birthday is on Nov.10, but I would start planning my party in early July. No, wait, that’s a lie ­­­­­&- I would start planning my party on Nov.11. Yes, I know this is a bit extreme, but as a perpetual people pleaser, my birthday was the one-day a year where I got to be a complete narcissist and not feel in the least bit guilty about it. Alas, the times have changed &- and for the worse. Turns out, as you get older, birthdays become about everyone else except you.
Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, when I was only yay high, a birthday party meant a literal celebration of (gasp) my birth. Guests would dress up in their finest attire, don unflattering party hats, partake in silly games (pin the tail on the donkey anyone?) and stuff their faces with birthday cake, all the while thinking how wonderful it is that I was born. All right, maybe that’s not exactly what they were thinking, but that was the impression I got, and remember to this day. It was a time when parents took care of all the party planning; a time when every kid in your class came to your party because their mommy made them, and when everyone (with the exception of the one sketchy kid) bought you presents. Oh how nice it felt to be the centre of attention, and to have all your friends fighting over who would get to sit by your side during dessert while your parents gazed adoringly at you from the corner. Life was good.
Then high-school came along and ruined it. Suddenly, my parents were sitting me down and telling me now that I was more grown up (yeah right), they no longer felt they should have to plan, or pay for my lavish parties. What? No more dinners at Planet Hollywood or afternoons spent glazing pots at Ceramic Café? Then, my friends, or the people who pretended to be my friends, informed me they couldn’t come to my party because they a) had no lift there, or b) they had someone else’s birthday to attend. I was devastated. Where were their mothers, and why were they not forcing them to come to my party?
It didn’t help that boys were now in the picture. As if overnight, they went from having cooties to being the root of so much drama. If I invite Bobby to my party, will he think I have a crush on him? Will Suzie get jealous because she has a crush on Bobby? In fact, for the life of me, I can’t remember how I celebrated my 13th or 14th birthdays. It’s as if they never happened. Fifteen is certainly one I’d rather forget, considering it was a lousy house party where half the guests ran off to try and buy beer and cigarettes at the depanneur next door. They never came back, and I haven’t spoken to them since. Sixteen is yet another birthday I’d like to erase from my memory. Over 20 girls joined me for dinner (it was my sweet-sixteen and my parents were treating), yet oddly enough, only five came out dancing after. Coincidence? I think not. All I remember from the second half of the evening is being alone on the dance floor with a large sweaty man who spilled his beer all over my brand-new corduroy skirt. The night ended with me throwing up in the sink of all places. There was nothing sweet about sixteen.
While a smart person would get the hint and stop planning birthday parties, my failures made me want to organize the perfect party even more. I was a woman on a mission. But if I thought high school was bad &- CÉGEP and university quickly changed that. Before, my friends and I were on the same schedule, but poof &- suddenly everyone had their own lives. Everyone was “focusing on their future.”
The challenge now was to get everyone together and (gasp again) actually enjoy themselves. Even though I had eliminated the bad eggs from my high school group of friends, this was no easy feat.
Picking a party date is the first hurdle. This one’s got her boyfriend’s birthday, that one’s got an exam the next day, the other one is tired, blah, blah, blah. Each year I feel like shouting, what about me? Does nobody care that I was born on this day “x’ number of years ago?
Step two is deciding on a location. I always like to go somewhere a little nicer for my birthday, but if you’re a group of six or more &- good luck to you. Just try getting into a club or trendy bar on St. Laurent St. or in Old Montreal with a large posse. And here’s where I get abnormally angry: if you want to reserve a table at any of these places, you have to order bottle service. Some places will make you get a bottle per every three people. In short, in order to have the “luxury” of essentially sitting down at one of these establishments, you have to drop an exorbitant amount of dough (the markups are astonishing). Last year I succumbed to the temptation and played by their dirty rules. I felt violated when I signed the bill &- never again.
This year I decided I’m going to call up some bars that are nice, but not that nice. Horror of horrors; they won’t take reservations past ten, and the last thing I want is for everyone to arrive and not have a place to stand, let alone sit. A house party is out of the question (I still live at home); an intimate dinner with close friends is always lovely, but I want all my friends to be there, and I want to party. Disco bowling anyone?
The truth is, no matter what I decide to do (and I will figure something out) I won’t be able to find the ideal place or please everyone. People will always find something to complain about. It’s too loud, it’s too crowded, the service sucks, the drinks are watered down and so on and so forth. Some won’t be able to show up for legitimate reasons, others for bullshit reasons. The point is, and I’m slowly learning this: there is no such thing as a perfect birthday party and there’s no fun in one either. The best memories are often the ones where things went wrong and you can laugh about them later. After all, if at 21 this is what I have to complain about &- that’s enough cause for celebrating 22, good party or bad party.


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