December 1, 2001


I’m having a birthday party this Saturday, the first birthday party I’ve had in twenty-two years. I dread the thing and am basically forcing myself to do it.

When I was kid I loved this day more than any other. My mother had her faults but she knew how to throw a party. We’d go to New England Pizza, my friends and I, and eat ourselves sick. That’s what fun is. In later years we had a contest to see who could eat the most pieces. One year Howard Skolnick caught Scott Rosengarden spitting out half of his last piece into the toilet, which gave the title to Richard Marcus. Big drama! Another year Anthony Pitcharelli (who later became a champion high school discus thrower, then had a nervous breakdown from which he has never recovered) ate fourteen pieces. They were smallish pieces but still.

It’s going to be a kid-style birthday party, without the kids. We’ll wear hats and play kids games like pin the tail on the donkey and musical chairs. The motif is smiley faces. Here’s the front of the invite:

smiley face

I tried Rachel’s patience by changing my mind a half dozen times. All the while she was steadfast in her refusal to push for the party. She does that and it’s over. But Rachel’s no dummy: she let me stew in my ambivalence. In the end I decided to do it, telling myself that it could turn out to be one of those things that makes me realize what a moron I am for not doing certain things because I supposedly know what they’re going to be like.

Still to buy: smiley-face napkins, smiley-face hats, smiley-face plates, smiley-face cups, and a yard-wide smiley-face for decoration.

The menu is pizza.