Sunday, July 23, 2006

Strippers, Ponies and Chocolate Cake

I love birthdays. Especially when it's someone else's birthday. I really love it when I get to throw them a party. For one reason, I get to decorate, make a cake and if all possible surprise people. I love surprising people. It's that delicious mix of anticipation and eagerness because you know they will absolutely love it and can't wait until they see it. Still, a tiny part of you worries they won't like it, which makes the anticipation that much sweeter as you put yourself through the torment.

For Karen's surprise birthday party I threw Saturday, I had been scheming a month. I had stolen her cell phone when she came over one day and hid in the bathroom writing down phone numbers. With two of her friends, I created a party list and sent out invitations over e-mail. Over the next few weeks, I called to check and re-check with them. I bought a cake mix and some crepe paper and balloons to trash (sorry decorate) her house with. When I was over at her house one day, I stole her extra house key off her coffee table. She was so oblivious, she never noticed. I had a whole plan worked out, and was ecstatic to set it into motion.

The first obstacle was the cake. Now, I can bake cakes just fine. It's the icing I have a dreadful time with. I bought one of those aerosol icing cans (hiss all you want, I know it's horrible), but I have a good reason. My good reason is that I didn't have any ends for the tubes of icing, and was on a time schedule. I stood at the cake, it's smooth surface laying before me like a blank canvas. "Ice me," it said, daring me to make a mistake. I slowly spread chocolate icing over it, making it thick to give me more of a cushion for mistakes. If all else failed, at least it would have some icing.

Then the hard part came: the actual letters. I practiced on a paper towel first, stuck out my tongue and went to it. A few shaky letters later, the word "happy" appeared. My husband did a few letters, which weren't much better than mine, and it was complete. It looked like a first grader had written on it, but it worked. Hopefully, everyone would be so ravenous they wouldn't notice.

After lots of primping I gathered up my bag of goodies: crepe paper, balloons, ribbon, tape, candles, lighter and scissors. I drove to Karen's house and got to work. I put the cake in the kitchen and taped drapes of crepe paper and balloons over her two doorways and fireplace. I had to lock her kittens in the bathroom, as they kept batting the crepe paper and tearing it down. They would leap and twine themselves in the paper and glare at me when I took it away from them. They entangled themselves in the ribbon and launched themselves at the balloons, trying to pounce as they were thrown off. I drew them into the bathroom with a bit of crepe paper and shut the door. They were not pleased and mewed their disapproval. I was there for their amusement, and nothing else. I apologized profusely as I finished hanging balloons and crepe paper.

Meanwhile, I got creative. I twined crepe paper around the stairwell, lamp and threw it all over a fake tree behind the couch. I threw it over the fan like I was toilet papering a tree and pulled the ends up so the cats couldn't reach it. I draped the elegant faux crystal chandelier over the table with crepe paper. Breathless from running around and blowing up six balloons, I grabbed my keys, let the kittens out and drove to the restaurant.

I waited impatiently for thirty minutes. I had called ahead for the table, and some of the girls were late. I had had Karen picked up by a friend and then taken to my house. Once some of the guests got here, my husband would bring Karen and the few guests at my house to the restaurant where we would surprise her.

The girls showed up and we got our table. About fifteen minutes later, I got my queso and was sucking it down like crazy when Karen walked in. We yelled "Surprise" ( I spewed chips from my mouth) and I plunked a huge gold crown on her head. The waiter brought her a free margarita and everyone ordered drinks, except yours truly. I was busy drinking the queso from the bowl. No one ever said I had table manners or an aversion to creamy thick cheese.

After a nice dinner, we headed back to Karen's house. She seemed strangely delighted I had trashed her house. After that, chaos ensued led by the Blonde Duck. In public, I can get a lot silly and a little crazy. By the time the night was over, I had initiated proudly:

  • blindfolding Karen to a chair with music playing as another girl and I rubbed all over her and sat on her lap like "strippers". My "sexy" dance was shaking my butt all over her like a bear on a tree and bumping her with my hips. Try as I might, I'm just not a sexy thing. Meanwhile, the other girl might as well have taken classes the way she swayed and moved with the music. This all came about because for a month I had told Karen I had hired a stripper and a pony for her to ride in her backyard. I knew she didn't really believe me, so I was trying to be a "little less talk and more action." Fortunately for her, my action looks like a series of bad Austin Power dance moves.

  • Playing dress up in Karen's closet. Between a fur coat, hooker boots, short skirts with shorts (skorts), an abundance of scarves and business shirts, another girl and I came up with some weird crap. The hit of the night was a black dress I found that was dubbed the stripper dress. On me, it looked like a short black spandex dress with a layer of fishnet over it in two slits, rather like an overcoat. It didn't cover the front of my legs at all. It came up mid-thigh and was tight enough to show my spleen. I walked out in that and heels and my husbands eyes bugged out. He began snapping away pictures with a flourish as Karen buried her red face in her hands. Meanwhile, I was strutting and posing away like I was some kind of model. I am a huge ham in front of a camera.

"It's not that short on me!"

"You think I'm fat! It's my hips isn't it?" I challenged her, as everyone burst into laughter. After that, Karen was shoved into the stripper dress and even more revealing outfits. For someone who rarely shows her neck, it was a interesting closet.

  • While no one noticed my dreadful decorating job, everyone loved the cake. That's right. I can make a cake out of a box. I can read directions. While I can't make waffles, I can make cakes. A little pitiful, but we're working on it. I'll be a culinary master in no time. The Iron Chef will be terrified when he hears me coming.

All and all, the party was a success. They liked my cake, Karen was happy, and I left before having to clean her house. So who's birthday is next? Want me to plan anything? I'll make a cake from scratch....I'll hire a pony for you too. No strippers though. You have to be a close friend for one of those.