Distressed, Evan searched around for an escape route, but we’d already taken the precautionary measure of strapping him into his chair, a la Clockwork Orange. A small crowd watched expectantly as Evan’s eyes fixed on the flickering flame before him. In unison, the assembled broke into an ancient chant.
“Happy birthday to you,” they began, and Evan looked around our kitchen, trying to decide whether to squeal in delight or terror. In the end, he opted for neither, swiveling his head around in a state of complete confusion, as if our family and friends had gathered around his highchair to teach him differential equations.
“Ppptthhbb,” my wife Kara said, trying to get Evan to blow a raspberry towards the single candle in his inaugural cupcake.
Evan is fluent in Raspberry, his native tongue, but in front of so many people, like my bladder at a stadium urinal trough, he couldn’t be talked into performing.
Eventually, it became clear that Evan’s most pressing birthday wish was to no longer have his hands pinned at his side, as Kara and I had been heeding our friends’ warnings about the perils of the birthday candle. I’d like to think I would have figured that one out on my own, since the world is full of better ideas than putting an open flame in front of a person who just developed enough motor control to keep from repeatedly smacking himself in the face.
After a gentle assist in blowing out the candle, we set the cupcake down on his tray as Silly-Band-bedecked children buzzed about the kitchen. Evan’s party was the first time I realized the extent to which Silly Bandz have infiltrated our children’s wrists.
“How many of those things do you have?” I asked our neighbor’s son.
“Seventy-two,” he replied, beaming.
If you’re unfamiliar with Silly Bandz, picture a rubber band. There. You’re done.
Wait, make it cost six bucks for a twenty-four pack. Okay, now you’re done.
Ostensibly, the silliness of the bands is derived from the shapes that they take when removed from the wrists of children whose parents are now several dollars poorer.
“This one’s a turtle!” he said, holding up a rubber band that had been crimped to resemble a crimped rubber band.
The vague shapes that the Silly Bandz take act as a sort of Rorschach test for clueless adults.
“I think it’s a skull and crossbones,” I said, picking up a discarded Silly Band off the floor.
“I see a teddy bear,” Kara said.
“I see a new wet bar for my solid gold yacht,” said whoever invented Silly Bandz.
Anyway, Evan had no idea what to make of his first cupcake. Up until that point, besides the occasional rice puff, his only experience with solid food had been smacking it out of my hands at restaurants.
The highlight of any first birthday party is watching the birthday boy make a mess of himself, a tradition that is often repeated on the twenty-first.
After a couple of tentative pokes, Evan sat back, uninterested in exploring this strange, non-pureed item any further. Kara stuck her finger in the frosting and put some on Evan’s lip. He licked it tentatively and paused, his brain processing this peculiar new information.
All of a sudden, his hands grabbed the cupcake and smashed it into his face like he was reenacting an airbag deployment in a crash test.
His eyes were apparently hungrier than his stomach, though, since that’s where most of the frosting went. Next year: Johnson’s No Tears Frosting.
You can smell like a monkey, too, with Mike Todd at