Time to come clean about something I think will prove wildly helpful regarding the pursuit of correct life partners.
...that or forever confirm that I'm a total nut case. I'm willing to take the risk.
There is a universal standard by which I uphold all men who reach the point of wow-I-like-this-guy in my head.
Not like - has a solid 401K (I'm not a hypocrite), can fix basic plumbing (this isn't the 60s), or is willing to go vintage clothes shopping with me (that ship has sailed).
As in, once a given guy reaches my we've-got-a-contender stage (whoollee other story) he's judged against my perception of his abilities in a very specific circumstance. A hypothetical circumstance, but of the realistic not McGrubber variety. A sort of maybe-boyfriend slash husband litmus test.
It's the planning and execution of our future child's 5th birthday party.
(Yeah. You’re right. This is the post that's going to keep me single for the rest of my life...)
See I love parties - parties of all kinds. It stems from a love of general entertaining that I'm sure has something to do with minor OCD of the organizational variety mixed with a real thing for both food and appropriate soundtracks for a given occasion (the creation of which cannot be underestimated).
My parents are entertainers. Their parents were entertainers. And as such we had some killer birthday parties growing up. They generally revolved around a theme dictated by the birth month of our year. Dani (December 2nd) had a number of holiday themed parties, one Nutcracker Ballet event and a few fetes involving ice skating. My situation (August 7th) usually revolved around a beach, pool, sprinkler or, from '89-'94, full-backyard-sized parachute (there were songs involving games involving prizes, involving sparkles).
Ergo -I very much appreciate a good party. They’re fun. They’re meaningful. And now I’m going to stop justifying this situation because we’re talking about parties here, and when I hear a person say, “I really hate parties” or “I’m not really into celebrating my birthday” I think – “well then you’ve clearly never done it correctly.” Fine.
Now as I grew older and shifted from playing-and-posing in a brand new dress to planning-and-posing in a brand new dress, I started to notice the significance of exceptional party planning and execution skills relative to the overall value of a person.
They say good clothes open all doors (which they do) and that you can tell a lot about a man by the relationship he has with his mother (which you can). I’m saying you can most accurately determine how a man will be in all aspects of life by the manner in which he would handle the planning and execution of his child’s 5th birthday party – boy or girl. And to clarify – I’m using “how a man will be” here to represent a number of things: how he will behave around children, how he will handle the in laws, how he will compromise on major life decisions, the skill with which he will grill hot dogs and hamburgers. The stuff of life.
How will he scold the two kids he finds kissing in the Playschool pink cottage? Will he video tape the opening of the gifts with an eye-roll or a tripod? When my parents arrive with fifteen gifts and a second cake they got from the Italian bakery will he give me the look of death or a loving squeeze? These are the questions of a life together...
Why a kid’s birthday party? you ask. Why not Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas brunch or an Easter egg hunt? Aren’t they equally significant and perhaps more tedious? Yes, but no. See, the crucial difference between an given national or religious holiday and the celebration of a child’s birth is the child. Thanksgiving dinner is the same every year. Buy a turkey, cook a turkey, carve a turkey, nap. You could argue the same for any other holiday. There are traditional foods, traditional acts, and the traditional clean up that any couple will fight over regardless of how amazing the guy (or girl) is.
With a kid’s birthday party there is a client – and that client - in the case of my all-telling hypothetical – is a 5-year-old. It has to be original. It has to be appropriate. It has to consider proper safety for school-aged children. It can’t be too expensive (can’t spoil the kid) or too impractical (this is a child we’re talking about), and it must allow for a close-if-not-equal amount of enjoyment for the parents required to attend (without the inclusion of alcohol). The options are endless. The potential issues, even greater. And yet success holds a value more significant than the two combined.
Everyone remembers the most fun birthday parties they went to as a child. What they don’t remember is the stress and frustration it put that kids parents through. Unless, and here’s where my litmus test comes in – the parents of said kid were so compatible in the party-planning personality arenas that this event took nothing but a few to-do lists and a lot of love. They’re a team! A TLC reality show! She’s high-fiving him at the grill (a passing him a Solo cup with a special surprise). He’s popping her a kiss on the forehead (as he hands her a giant garbage bag for insta clean-up of the gift wrappings). And then, when it’s all said and done and gossiped about they celebrate with the greatest kind of sex there is.
We-threw-an-awesome-5th-birthday-party-for-Olivia sex (or whatever your first kid is named).
So, verdict? Nut-case? Or genius?...