Wishing on candles with my eyes squeezed so tight they hurt. And meaning it. And believing in the process. Like all those other years, I hadn’t concentrated enough. Or maybe I hadn’t wished for something virtuous enough, so I would add a “Oh yeah, and world peace” at the end. Then taking that full breath, feeling every pocket of lung expand, because this was for all the marbles, or whatever it was I wanted that year.
2. Musical Chairs
(Image by David Maddison)
So much suspense. Delicious tension. Striving to achieve the balance between the hover and the sideways crab-walk. The moment of stomach free-fall when the music actually ended. The pure, unadulterated thrill of feeling a chair firmly planted beneath your bum, when you weren’t sure there would be one there.
When a playground spat got out of hand, you’d wait to pull it out: “Oh yeah? Well, you’re not invited to my BIRTHDAY!” It didn’t matter how many disappointing parties you’d thrown in the past – it still carried a lot of weight. Of course, there was always the Reverse Leverage, once you got to the party: “Oh yeah? Well, I’m taking my present BACK!” There was a lot of diplomacy involved, year-round.
4. Money in the Cake
Where I grew up, you had a Good Party if there were coins baked right into the cake. But none of this namby pamby wrapping them in wax paper first shit. No, the neighborhood moms just hucked them right into the batter. Unwashed, probably. We’d always offer them to the birthday kid, with the expectation that they’d say, “No, you keep ’em.” And somehow, not one kid ever choked on an errant penny.
(Image from here)
Or, more specifically, not having so many candles on the cake that the mother loving smoke alarms go off.