Sunday, August 29, 2010

That Bar of Soap Birthday Party

Well, sometimes you start a story and life intervenes and then it's a week later. Thanks, Amy, for popping in to post while I was in California. More about that trip in the next post. (Ha, see what I did there?)

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.


Maggie said...

Wow, after hearing what she got in her original goodie bag I think the soap sounds like the best gift of the day! What a strange party. Poor little P. At least she has Laura as a friend, which is a true blessing.

Michele said...

Okay, I was never the most "together" parent in the world but even I could put together a party together better than this. Makes me feel bad for her child. The only consolation is that this baby doesn't know any different. This is normal for her.

Keely said...

Oh mah gosh. Not to worry, I am doing PLENTY of shrugging and tilting of my head in a 'wtf?' manner over here.

Seriously, wtf? That woman isn't wired right. I despair for her child's future relationships.

aimeewrites said...

Okay, yep, waving my hands like crazy and shrugging so much I think I just adjusted my own back. How sad for her daughter! At least she has n'bors with a good gift closet...

Mental Momma said...

Waving and shrugging, between sips of wine. Does that sound about right?

Raising my glass to bad neighbors and good writing material...

Jenni said...

RE: the last line - the whole time I was reading this I kept thinking, "I wish the real Becky were just telling me this story right now." Because if you all think she can write a blog, you should hear her tell a story in person.

Also, what the hecks? You do not need goody bags. No goody bag is better than a crap goody bag.

Lastly - I am at the Outer Banks right now, just FYI. Ah, vacation.

Marie said... that I've read about the first goody bag, I agree with Maggie. Ivory soap ain't so bad.
I also readily admit that I wasn't the most organized parent in history, but I did know that my child's birthday was on March 2nd EVERY year. I'm actually feeling better about myself right now.

Erika said...

That is one crazy party. If she wasn't so kooky, it would be kind of awesome. Like this anti-goody bag, goody bag. Okay, now if you had to make 3 goody bags right this instant, what could you put in them. It's like a McGyver challenge. I could do post-it note (still in wrapper), unused papermate pens, individually wrapped gummy fruit snacks, small (unused) tubes of Vaseline (from hospital after having Devin), party poppers (leftover from a 4th of July party).

Ted has always thought you should do a video blog.

Messy Mom said...

Wow, so it gets even better. I love the recycled plastic Justice bag! That is so crazy. It seems that kids are coming to expect goodie bags more and more these days, but I agree with you, no favors are better than the crap collection that they came home with.

Beth said...

What I want to know is, where do you find these neighbors? They are PRICELESS.

Elizabeth said...

Oh, thank you for telling us the complete story -- so weird and so funny, too. I honestly checked your blog more than once daily to see --

Ellie said...

GO insider trading! Seriously though... does mom need some meds, because that is WEIRD.

Andrea said...

OMG. That's horrible. Fishing lures?? Either do or don't. Never half-do, ya know what I mean?

Though excellent blog fodder... ;)

Hootie said...

Though I hear that Blog Fodder II is even better.

puncturedbicycle said...

Wow, that's a wartime goody bag. It should also have included gravy browning, some string, a stick of charcoal and a can of fruit cocktail. And an egg.

Amy said...

Wartime goody bag, indeed. And I ditto Andrea: do or don't, but don't half-do. Pathetic.

But mostly I feel for P. FN may have sneakily disguised this year's utter lack of planning with the "it was a surprise the whole time!" approach, but P is doubtless hep to the news that she's not a priority.

gretchen said...

Please, PLEASE tell me that that Zhu Zhu pet was some of your BlogHer swag! This was one of the funniest damned things I've read in a long time. I actually LOLed, which you know I seldom do. Fishing lures? A highlighter pen? Sweet Jesus! I am speechless. Okay, no, I'm never speechless. What kind of woman is this? I'm surprised she didn't just toss in cans of tuna and Ramen noodles. I commend Laura for snagging something that is at least useful, that's a girl with a head on her shoulders.

Kate said...

you are a much better person than I am. i would have abolutely nothing to do with such a nut job, even if my daughter were friends with hers.

A Lawyer Mom's Musings said...

That was truly unbelievable. For a minute, I thought you were going to say it was an opened, used soap bar.

You've got a gift stash and she's got a trash stash. Grr. And being LATE while you huddle in her house? Incredible.

I'm with Kate on this one -- if it weren't for her poor daughter it would be high dumping time.

Stephanie in Suburbia said...

I don't have words. So I'm just commenting to say that. I don't have words.

Oh, and I feel like the world's greatest mom right now.

missynall said...

Feeling so thankful that P has you guys in her life!

Sylvia said...

Wow. Didn't she at least have some junk food to throw in there? Makes me feel better about the bizarro non-theme goodie bag I did (sort of Spongebob/Diego/bubbles fiesta). Way to go Laura! She might be one of those people that could start with a broken cell phone and trade her way up to a car!

Casey said...

Now having met you, I can totally picture the hand gestures and shrugging. God, that woman is something. I would suggest sending her kid home with a bag of mulch and shoe polish. Something strange. But you're right, she totally should have planned something, anything in advance instead of 2 days before.

melondonkey said...

Where's that like button? Double good.

Rebekah said...

Thank you for writing your blog!!! I seriously love reading it and so enjoy your slant on all the ins and outs of life in your world. I laughed out loud at this one and had to read it aloud to Sloan too so he could laugh also.

Amy Whitley said...

I am embarrassed to admit that the Case of the Bar of Ivory Soap has popped into my mind in a WTF way more than once over the last week, so I'm very glad to get the scoop. And my first thought was exact what you said: if you don't have it pulled together, why not just skip goodie bags altogether? I've opted out on that aspect of partying since 2006. Anyway, hilarious. Wish I lived in your neighborhood. My neighbors are way too boring to blog about.

Amnah said...

Oh. My. Goodness. Quite possibly the best post I have ever read. Thank you ohdeedoh for sending me here.

Elizabeth-Flourish in Progress said...

The star of that party was not the bar of soap, but your daughter's quick wit and negotiating skills to obtain the bar of soap.