Excerpt from the book 40 Something about 5 women juggling careers, kids, family, and men.
Harper came home from school waiving an invitation to his best friend, Jack’s, 10th birthday party. Every year this kid’s mom goes all out. The lady is Martha Stewart on steroids. My kid’s are lucky if I remember to pick up the cake on the way to whatever venue I booked for their party. This woman transforms her home into party central and makes the whole thing an experience.
For the kid’s 6th birthday she made these pop up pirate invitations. She made them. The kids were supposed to dress up like pirates. That’s right, a costume. It wasn’t good enough to just show up with a gift, I had to figure out a costume for the event. Worse, I was expected to stay because it was a big person event too. I’m not one for socializing and thankfully costumes were optional for adults.
As soon as we get there she hands Harper an old looking aged piece of paper. It’s a letter written, in calligraphy, that says:
Blackbeard the pirate has stolen Captain Jack’s treasure and he needs your help to find it. Meet him on his ship below the tavern where the world’s best chili is made. On the way you will need to find a few things to help Captain Jack battle Blackbeard.
Great. A treasure hunt.
No, correction. A scavenger hunt.
Harper drags me down the stairs to the basement where a ship has been constructed out of large cardboard boxes. The floor is covered in blue tarps secured down with large stones and there is even a mermaid swimming in the water. To get onto the ship Harper had to walk the plank. A balance beam made out of wood and about a foot off the ground.
This is not a birthday party. It is a theatrical production.
“Wow. Can you believe this party?” Christine leans over and whispers in my ear. “I thought last year’s Thomas the Train party was over the top. Kathleen out did herself this time.”
“I know. Harper is going to want something like this. Is the whole class here?”
“Yep. Along with a few more.”
I can feel a head ache coming on already just from the thought of all the work that has gone into this day. I don’t understand how she does it or even why she does it. All that work for a party that lasts what, 3 hours? She must be exhausted by the end of the day.
“I don’t know about you Justine, but I think this calls for a bowl of wine, coming?”
I follow Christine back up the stairs to the kitchen which has been converted into a pirate like pub with a wench and bartender.
“Arr Matey what ye be wanting?”
“Two glasses of white wine.” Christine orders and the bartender, Kathleen’s brother, places two half full glasses on the kitchen island’s eating bar. I take a few sips and smile conspiratorially at Christine. “Let’s go outside.”
The deck was even decorated to make it appear like an extension of the pirate’s pub.
“How much do you think she spends on these things?” I ask Christine.
“A few hundred dollars and weeks of work. I saw Rose in the grocery store the other day, she seems to be doing well.” I nod. “Any chance her and Gus are on the outs?”
I force a laugh while shaking my head. Every single woman, and a few married ones, I know ask me regularly if there is any chance that Gus will be single. A few are even bold enough to ask how my marriage is holding up in hopes that Gary will be a free agent soon. I bet a few of them have considered offering up a sacrifice to the gods asking for me to die, leaving Gary a grieving widow. And very single.
“A girl can always dream.”
“How is the hunt for the new man coming?”
It’s her turn to laugh and her laugh is genuine.
“It’s not. I swear there are no decent single men out there. You won the lotto when you snagged Gary. I went on this one date, if you can even call it that, and the guy shows up at the coffee shop and he’s 20 years older than his photos and the age on his profile.”
“What? Why would he do that?”
“Cause he can. Thinks that if younger women just meet him and see how charming he is they will over look the lie. He even asked me what I thought of him. I told him that he didn’t look anything like his photos and that I didn’t appreciate the bait and switch because it makes him look a liar.”
“Yep I did. He asked for the bill, threw it at me and said he’d buy dinner next time and walked out.”
“What did he expect you to say?”
“Probably that he was great, even though he was 20 years older than I thought he was, and could we go back to his place. The idiot.”
“I thought only women lied about their age.”
“So did I. Apparently, not. Men are just as delusional and vain.”
“Christine, Justine, hello. I think there’s a bad joke in there.”
“Gwentine, have a seat.” Christine says and I hold up my glass of wine to Gwen in a cheers motion. “Maybe we can start a trend.”
“Or a band.” I say.
“So what do you two think of all this?” Gwen asks.
We go over our opinions of the lavish event as others join us. The consensus is that it sets the bar high, but the kids love it and Kathleen enjoys doing it so, all is good. Yeah, until our kid’s next birthday party when they want a big production too.
The little pirates have come out of the basement and Kathleen’s husband leads them on the scavenger hunt around the neighbourhood to find clue after clue, hidden in the parks, neighbours yards, and even the local convenience store for a slushie in special take home pirate cups.
“Hey ladies can you give me a hand?” Kathleen asks.
“Sure.” We all say together.
So while the kids were out scavenging, we took all the gifts and hid them in the backyard play structure. We then used fabric to transform the structure into a pirate ship and hoisted the pirate flag.
When the kid’s get back they have a second treasure hunt to find out what Blackbeard did with the presents. This time they had to go through an obstacle course in the backyard, play a game of throw the cannon ball (water balloons), buy swords with the items found in the scavenger hunt and then have a sword fight with the adults to defeat Blackbeard, (the kid’s dad in costume) in order to get the presents back.
By the end I was exhausted from all the noise, talking, and kids hyped up on candy treasure, flavoured gelatine, and ice cream cake. Harper had so much fun it’s all he talked about it for months. He begged me for something just as cool as Jack’s birthday party. He got laser tag.
This year the theme is Video Games. No costumes, I guess the boys are getting too big for that. There are going to be multiple video game tournaments with lots of prizes. That’s what Harper tells me. They even rented some big screen and two or three big screen TVs so multiple games can be going on. It’s enough to make my head hurt thinking about it. How much noise can 4 video game systems make? Maybe I should buy some earplugs.
Click image for Pirate Birthday Invitations
Purpose of this Blog
This blog is a look at the characters in a new novel about being a 40+ year old woman in today’s world. The novel, like all literature, draws from real life but embellishes it, changes it, and merges it together with fantasy. You won’t find a 100% true story on the blog or in the novel. I welcomes any parenting or dating stories you would like to share for the book, but please understand the story will only be a jump off point as I’m not about to publish anything exactly as it happened. Email her today at Shannonpeel01[ at ]gmail [.com]
And yes…. Dating stories about women behaving badly are welcome too, as my characters are flawed and handicapped when it comes to dating.
Shannon Peel is the author of THIRTEEN a book about a boy and his mom caught behind enemy lines when soldiers attack their North American hometown. The story asks the question, what if it happened here?
For more information check out her website. www.shannonpeel.com