My one and only Birthday Party

I believe I was in the third grade. Somehow I think it was a surprise birthday party. (My sister might remember). It was during a time when I was into “My Little Pony.” I can barely remember who was at my party, except for a few photos I still have of the day. The problem is I cannot remember who most of the people are around the table in the photo.

The strongest memory I have is also one that paints me as a brat of a kid. While I know that survival was most likely the reason I never had another birthday party (food on the table at each meal was more important than having the best birthday bash) the memory I have was one of ingratitude. Before I tell you I have one further side note. I was in third grade during a time of “name envy.” The butt of your jeans had to have the right name brand or you did not fit in. Goodwill, hand-me-downs, and non-name brands did not work. As a kid growing up in a poor household, having “Guess” on my jeans was definitely not an option.

For that sole birthday party my mom made a cake and shaped it like a pony. It was to be a “My Little Pony” cake. The problem was that my mom spent so much time trying to shape the cake (I rather doubt they had a pony cake form back then), she forgot one of the key elements to the cake. The decoration/icing. My favorite (and probably only) My Little Pony was light blue with a lavender tail and mane. All My Little Ponies had a symbol on their hind that signified which Pony they were. Mine had lavender bows on the hind. My mom however decorated the cake so there were literally bows on the entire surface of the horse.

I was MORTIFIED. No one made fun of me, but I assumed all my friends thought this is what I thought a My Little Pony looked like. My friends never mentioned it, and I never brought it up, but I do think after it was all over I said something to my mom in tears. I am sure she wanted to slap me across the face (not that she ever would have) but wow did I sound ungrateful. When really I was afraid for what I would be thought of in a world that teased so heavily, where I would never have the “Guess” triangle on my butt.

Was it too much to ask for at the time to not stand out and to just fit in? Now that is the last thing I want – to fit in. Bring on the bows!

Dad was a classy mooner

In case you were wondering, the title of this post is sarcastic. My father was far from classy. He was real and raw. What you saw is what you got. He did not hide things. If he was mad you knew it. If he was emotional you knew it. If he was happy, or thought something was funny, you could see it on his face, or in the way his body shook with laughter. Yet, from what I could remember he still had a poker face.

Other than being in the Air Force for a few years, and stationed in Turkey, he lived a good chunk of his life in Indiana. Now Indiana, for those of you living there, I am not knocking you, but well my dad did not always mind his manners. Indiana did not bring out the classiness in my dad. One of the things I remember (and yes I was mortified at the time) was that when he was pissed off at someone for cutting him off in the car, he had a sign between his seats that was on a stick with someone mooning you. When he was ticked off, he would pull it out and moon the other car. At the time I was mortified if I was ever in his truck with him, now I look back and think, “What the heck, at least he told them what he thought.” Do you ever wish you had one of those signs?

A few weeks ago I finished the book: “Too Good to Be True” by Benjamin Anastas. He writes about how his father would moon people in public. This is an excerpt from his book:

“My father is about to moon someone. In the A&P parking lot. I should pause for a moment and explain, from the safety of adulthood, that my father had three major styles when it came to mooning. The first and probably the most common type happened in the car, when my father was behind the wheel. Let’s call it the Face in the Window. If we were driving through Gloucester and passed a friend from his wilder, artsy crowd, he would sometimes put the car in neutral, crouch up on the seat, yank down his pants, and press his bare ass to the glass. Sometimes he did the same thing when the car was parked, but that version had a lower degree of difficulty. I had seen the Face in the Window from the outside enough times to fear it: the twin mounds of flesh pressed hard against the window; the dark crevice down the center, like a crack in the earth; the beard of public hair and dangling ball sack. No one, no matter what his suit of character armor, should have to contemplate the furry pucker of his father’s asshole in the window of a car, or anywhere else. It leads to nightmares. It is like seeing your own death. Actually, it’s like seeing your own death and staring at your father’s asshole at the same time.

His second style of mooning was an offshoot of the first: the Breezeway. This is identical to the Face in the Window, except the car windows are open. It’s fresher, more natural. Easier to shrug off, if you happen to catch some collateral.

The third style of mooning is the easiest to employ on the fly: the Quick Drop. This is the moon my father used when he was on foot. It could happen in an instant, at any time. He dropped his pants, threw himself forward, and reached behind to spread his ass checks wide. Without the spread it was still a full-on mooning, but the effect was a little more restrained, more polite.” Page 96-97

So I guess my dad was not alone. There were other mooners out there. I wonder how many are still out there, as I have yet to be mooned. If I ever am, I know that it might be a classy take on Face in the Window, the Breezeway, the Quick Drop, or my dad’s version with a butt on a sign. Whichever version, I know it will bring a smile to my face.

Thank you, Dad, for keeping it real.