Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Children's Birthday Parties: The Case Against

I have lately been present at an increasing number of parties. This has less to do with my social capital than my status as a puppeteer. Ask any puppeteer and you will learn that puppeteers do not often get invited to parties for social reasons. Spend extended time with any puppeteer and you will understand why.

Nonetheless, in my capacity as entertainer, I am in significant birthday party demand, usually for people having the bad judgment to turn six or younger. Now on the one hand, I am grateful for these gigs, in that they allow me to pursue my cherished goal of earning an income so I can pay 90% of it in estimated taxes, with 9.99882% going to rent and, if I'm lucky, a nubbin left over for a little something to shave my legs.

Yes, the American Dream is alive and well among us freelancer entertainers, some of whom never have to sell both our retinas. Yet birthday parties for the younger set leave something to be desired, and here is why:

1. They are for the younger set.
2. The younger the set, the more fluids said set is liable to disperse. This is a true hardship for your weak-stomached birthday party entertainer, such as myself, who cannot deal with anyone dispensing anything beyond a pithy aphorism. However, the younger set never dispenses pithy aphorisms, and if they did, they would likely be crap.
3. No child has ever enjoyed him- or herself at a birthday party. The closest they come is not committing acts of mass carnage. It is a known scientific fact* that 35% of lifelong emotional trauma is caused by childhood birthday parties, with the rest attributable to sleepovers.
4. Increasingly, children are named things like "Brantleigh" and "Kooper." Every time a parent names a child something like "Brantleigh" or "Kooper," the hole intensifies in the ozone layer, which has led to horrific scientific consequences such as global warming, cancer and OKCupid. Therefore all small children should immediately, upon receiving names, be classified as biohazard.
5. But really, it's the parents who should be classified as biohazard.
6. Puppet shows are not a legitimate form of entertainment at a birthday party, because they require sitting quietly, which your average birthday-party-attending child can only do for .0000008 nanoseconds, and if the child is male, cut that figure in half.
7. This problem can be solved with tranquilizer darts, but that really cuts into my profits.
8. Puppet shows also afford the grown-ups in the crowd a chance to sit back and chat.
9. This problem can be solved with the death penalty, but that really cuts into my profits.
10. No one ever pops out of the cake.

So you - I am talking to you here, Mr. or Ms. Caring Parent - might want to keep these irrefutable facts in mind next time you try to give your child an organized birthday party, particularly one involving theatrical entertainment. A far more viable alternative would be simply to take the kid out in the yard and turn the hose on him; after, let him eat an entire thing of Cool Whip; then put him in front of the Cartoon Network for the rest of the day, retreat to the bedroom, and commence wild carnal activities. See how everybody wins here?

It's not your fault that you can't think rationally. Your problem is you've been blinded by being a Caring Parent. This state of affairs has addled your formerly respectable mind. It's much easier for me, a callow and inexperienced 26-year-old with no major obligations to anyone, to tell you what to do. So here, for your own edification, is the problem with hiring a birthday entertainer. Imagine you are a 5-year-old,** running around the house like an overcaffeinated fruit fly but with less self-control, gleefully ripping open presents and shrieking and smearing frosting into the sofa and breaking your presents permanently all in less time than it takes us adults to clear our spam folder; in other words you are LIVING THE DREAM; when all of a sudden a big adult claps his hands, seizes your flailing tiny body and announces in smarmy tones that now we're going to see a SUPER-FUN PUPPET SHOW, which, to you, turns out to be nothing more than some other unfortunate adult, this one with toys you can't touch, alternately shushing you and loudly writhing around before you and your friends in a wildly desperate attempt to get you to experience delight. Only you, by this point, are already off in the other end of the house, gleefully pouring fruit punch into Daddy's keyboard.

You see, parents? This is what you get for trying to force enrichment on your offspring. Your offspring who, I assure you, don't want to be enriched any more than you do. And definitely not at a birthday party, where it cuts into valuable time that could otherwise be spent emotionally destroying other small children. Are you really about to deny your child that joy?

But if you simply must insist on a "traditional" birthday party, don't let me stop you. I only ask that you stop to think, before you hire Enriching Theatrical Entertainment, how much you would like it if your birthday party was hijacked by interpretive dancers.

* SOURCE: Field and Stream.
** Probably named "Brantleigh" or "Kooper."