Monday, December 12, 2011

Birthday Outing, VIPS only

Last weekend was Primo's birthday celebration. This year, in an innovative move which has revolutionzed my birthday-celebrating-world, we decided not to throw our usual DIY, invite-way-too-many-kids, takes-me-three-days-to-recover-and-I-dread-the-whole-experience party, as has been our tradition. I mean, I WOULD have done it, since I am still trying to secure the martyr crown but it occurred to me that at 7, Primo was really old enough to try a VIP birthday outing where we invite just a few kids and take them somewhere fun.

We pitched the idea to him and at first he balked because he'd already decided he wanted a Harry Potter theme to his huge party and that I could make a Hedwig-shaped pinata and craft a cake in the shape of Hogwarts. But David and I kept spinning how cool it would be do take his best friends out to a special afternoon at the world-renowned Jekyll and Hyde restaurant, and eventually, we won his over. So on a recent Sunday morning, we collected our gang of six -- four friends plus Primo and Sec -- and headed on the subway for a five-hour-long adventure.

Despite my fears about being in charge of so many children on the MTA and midtown in December, the whole thing went wonderfully. It even approached enjoyable. Nay, let me amend that. It WAS enjoyable, particularly seeing all the kids hold hands and walk down 6th Ave together. All of them were genuinely impressed by the talking gargoyles and special effects of the restaurant and Primo had a real smile on his face the whole time. Then we returned home for cake, which was supposed to be a simple affair but which ended up taking me the better part of the day before. I made it out of a box, too, so that should tell you one of two things: A. how incompetent I am at decorating theme cakes or hard it is to make one.

Primo wanted a haunted house cake and I had the GENIUS idea to achieve this by building onto a gingerbread house. Would have worked perfectly if I had done what I usually do and gotten a gingerbread-house-making kit with all the stuff inside. Instead I was lured in by the super-cheapo kit I saw at Ikea which -- in typical form-- contained the gingerbread house walls but no icing or base to affix it to. That's how it was that I ended up making five tons of ineffectual mortar icing which couldn't hold two pieces of tape together. I gloped that shit onto the Ikea gingerbread walls but they just kept falling over, much like the real Ikea furniture when I build it.

"I'm going to use Krazy glue," I told David.

"No, don't do that," he cautioned.

"WELL THIS IS IMPOSSIBLE!" I shrieked, "It would be easier to build a REAL house to live in."

Then I had the brainwave to sink the gingerbread walls into the sheet cake I'd baked, to brace them. I sloped green icing all over the cake to make it look like a grass lawn and then sunk the walls in. It worked pretty well. I mean, the walls were slanted and the house was so crooked I could only manage to put one half of the roof on but that worked out to our advantage since it was supposed to be a haunted house. Then Primo had the great idea that since one half of the roof was missing and you could see into the house, he could make a zombie guy out of Swedish Fish and gummy parts and lay him inside the house. That way, it looked intentional. To cover up for any inadequacies, we put the remainder of their Halloween candy all over the cake, ala Hansel and Gretel.

When we were done, Primo and Seconda oohed and ahhhed.

"That's the best cake I've ever seen," they marveled.

God bless children. They are so easily impressed. It redeems them for being so whiny and obnoxious most of the time.

Primo's friends were equally wowed by our masterpiece cake even if, after sitting at room temperature all night wrapped in Saran Wrap, the gingerbread got so soggy that the roof caved in.

Plus, I got to hand out my favorite party favors ever -- easy reader versions of Jekyll and Hyde. Pretentious, yet accessible and -- most importantly -- theme-specific. Feels good when you achieve all three at once.

All in all, a resounding success.