When last we were together, Laura had just returned from a Frenemy family birthday party with a full sized bar of Ivory soap in her goody bag. This was a source of great entertainment in my house. My mother-in-law's eyebrows went up into her hairline, and I thought (for the eleventy hundredth time), "Thank the SWEET LORD I have a blog."
You guys were geniuses at coming up with party themes for which the bar of soap would be fitting: scrimshaw party, bath products party, green party, etc. But I knew that the real theme of the party was Absolutely Last Minute and Cheap as Hell. Check it out.
Now, the party was a Sunday afternoon. That Thursday night, I had gotten a text from Frenemy. Obviously she had sent it to a group. It said:
Would ur daughter be avail 4 a surprise bd party 4 P? Either Fri afternoon or Sun aftnoon? About 1 hr. Thxs.
Yes, this was Thursday night. You may recall (if you are a very, very attentive reader of this blog), that last year Laura missed P's birthday entirely because Frenemy texted us Friday night to plan a Saturday afternoon pool party, and we had gone to the mountains. It was a bummer, they are good friends.
So I texted back and said Sunday afternoon would work better. Then she texted back on Saturday morning:
Hey Moms! The surprise party will be 2:30 Sun @ my house. I'll hav door unlocked. When we arrive jump out with "SURPRISE."
Okay, so this was a sort of self-service surprise party. Then she left me a long voice mail asking if I would show up and go in with the kids and supervise them until they got there. I texted her back and said I would be happy to. It was just going to be Laura and two other little girls from our street, because P doesn't have any friends, because FN will barely let her breathe.
So at 2:20 on Sunday we were all ready. I'd pulled a cute present out of the gift stash (hurray gift stash! I don't know how I'd kept my own kids from finding those Zhu-Zhu Pets) and Laura decorated the wrapping paper. We set out and took Hank with us because Hank makes a party. On the walk up there, Normal Neighbor texted me. She said, "What is the deal with this weird plan? Should I come over there?" I said, "Yes, please do." She said, "Do you think FN will be late? I don't want to sit in their house for 30 minutes." I told her I was sure they'd be on time.
Oh ho! Normal Neighbor is no dummy.
Fast forward to 2:45. The four kids are in their places, having scoped out the best spot to hide. I text Frenemy, "We are ready!" She texts back:
We are running 15 minutes late. Thxs, it took us a little long @ lunch because we went 2 different restaurant. Thxs.
They were already fifteen minutes late, so I wasn't sure what this did to their ETA. I told Frenemy to give us a two-minute warning and I told the kids to stand down. I considered browsing in the fridge.
At 3:00, they roll up. We've now been waiting the exact half hour that Normal Neighbor predicted, and Hank has practiced yelling SURPRISE one hundred dozen times. But we hid, we waited until P walked in the door, and then we yelled "SURPRISE" one more time. She was really surprised and delighted, so I felt that it was time well-spent.
Then came the bar of soap.
Hank and I had stayed a few minutes more, long enough for Hank to have cake, and then we went home. When Laura came home later, she was clutching a recycled plastic bag from Justice. It contained the bar of Ivory soap, a little yellow highlighter pen, a pair of Halloween socks, a pencil, and a ring pop. And friends, it wasn't even a pristine bar of soap. You know how you get the big multi-packs of eight or so soaps, and then the ones in the middle have their wrappers all messed up from being stuck to the other bars?
It was like that.
So I asked the natural question: Did everyone get a bar of soap?
No. The story developed that Laura had actually traded to get that bar of soap. The other bags featured, as their centerpieces:
- a pair of Christmas earrings
- a fishing lure shaped like a rubber fish
- a wooden ruler inscribed with the Golden Rule and the name of a local Baptist church
Laura's first bag had contained the fishing lure, and she horse traded her way to the soap. My girl! And at this moment the soap is being used in the kids' bathroom.
So obviously, this has to be the most half-assed attempt at goody bags ever, as it seems to have involved Frenemy cleaning out the junk drawer in her office. The thing is, there is no law that says you have to do goody bags at all. A little cake and ice cream, a few games, and they're good. So why cobble together this collection of crap? It is classic Frenemy, that's all I can say about it.
And the last-minute nature of the party actually hurt my feelings a little bit on her daughter's behalf. I don't know why she couldn't plan something ahead of time? She has one child and she knows when her birthday is. Yes, I am sure she is busy, but other people are too. Everyone is busy. I don't get it, my kids talk about their upcoming birthdays for months, doesn't her child? P is eleven; she knows when her birthday is too, I'm guessing. And I'm no Power Mom, but I can manage to pick a day and time and invite other children a couple of weeks in advance. We had Hank's fourth birthday on my last day of chemotherapy and it was great. So how busy is she?
Not to get all busier-than-thou.
So THAT is the story of the bar of Ivory soap and how it was the perfect accompaniment to the whole thrown-together party. I mean, what the chuck?
I really wished you all lived here so we could have this conversation in person, with hand gestures and shrugging.