Way way back when I was a little girl, birthday parties were a very special thing.
We didn’t have expensive theme parties with magicians and ponies and trips to the spa back then. But we did wear our best party dresses over puffy crinolines. There were party games like Musical Chairs and Pin The Tail On The Donkey, and afterwards there was ice cream and cake.
I remember just one themed birthday party. It was my sister Debbie’s 7th birthday I think, so I would have been six years old. It was a bowling birthday party.
Bowling! We were poor and bowling was just about the most decadent and exotic thing imaginable.
My mother invited six of Debbie’s friends to this bowling birthday party, and the countdown began. Ten more sleeps, nine more sleeps, eight more sleeps…
A week before the party, we were going to visit my mother’s friend. Her daughter, Margie, was about my age.
My mother explained to us beforehand that Margie was not invited to the bowling birthday party because we couldn’t afford to invite anybody else, and also because Margie’s mom didn’t have a car and my mom wouldn’t have time to go pick her up on the day of the party.
“So don’t tell Margie about the party,” she instructed us firmly.
My mother was absolutely crystal clear about this. She repeated these instructions in the car, and again as we got out of the car. She reminded us in the elevator going up to Margie’s apartment. And she whispered it to us one last time just before she knocked on Margie’s door. Debbie and I nodded solemnly.
The words ran like ticker tape through my mind: “Don’t tell Margie about the bowling birthday party. Don’t tell Margie about the bowling birthday party. Don’t tell Margie about the bowling birthday party. Don’t tell Margie…”
Then my mom knocked and we heard footsteps. The door swung open and there stood Margie and her mom.
“DEBBIE’S HAVING A BOWLING BIRTHDAY PARTY!!!” I screamed.
Then I stood there, profoundly shocked and horrified at what I had just done.
My mom? She didn’t miss a beat.
“And we’d love it if Margie could come,” she said graciously.