Day: April 1 1963 – Time: 1:00 PM – Place: 614 Huntington Ave
I remember my 6th birthday party. Birthday parties were not high on the agenda in our family so this one sticks out in my mind.
Not that we needed more, they stay special with just a few. Not like today where parents succumb to the pressure of giving their precious the bigger and better every year, elevating it to Super Bowl-isk status and beyond.
I remember my mother telling me I was getting a birthday party that year. I remember going over the list of classmates and selecting as many as I was allowed. My memory is that it was my whole 1st grade class.
My mother took care in putting things together to make it a real party for me. It was exciting to help her plan the event, but it was more like her telling me all the things we could do and I just said yes to everything! We went over the games to play, the prizes we would give away, the kind of cake I wanted, and the theme, it was to be an Indian theme.
So the invitations went out with great anticipation and that day (like Christmas) finally came!!
I was especially thinking of a girl I had a crush on since kindergarten, Bobby Osepian. I imagined finally getting her into my room alone and planting a movie style kiss on her wanton lips. The things I always wanted to say would be said and it was to be the beginning of the relationship with my future wife. I knew exactly what I wanted in life at 6 years old and Bobby was THE ONE! Bobby always wore clean pressed dresses and would have some kind of ribbon or color tie in her hair. She never made mistakes of any kind but was perfect as any woman of 6 years old should be and I was willing to wait. I was sure it would be like no time passing at all.
Bobby had a large nose, which for me at the time was one of the many things I was attracted to. Boobs were not something I was aware of at the time so maybe it was just primal instinct that caused me to desire her bodacious schnoz like it was a boob for a one-cup bra, I don’t really know. Looking back, she was Armenian too, and I believe she had the makings for large breasts that would go along with a large stocky body. She would be a muumuu, wearing girl too. I even imagine her bossing me around and once I gave her children I would be discarded as the real boob in the house. I would develop a drinking problem and go on long walks smoking cigarettes with my bottle wrapped in a brown paper bag tucked in my coat pocket.
But none of that happened, as Booby never came, even though she lived just 3 blocks away on the same street.
In fact only two kids came, two girls, two I didn’t know very well, Diane McIntre and Laurie Niel (Their names are written on the back of a photo).
I remember waiting for the cars to come and unload the kids out at the curb like it was the Oscars. But all the preparation, time and effort didn’t pay off and I think this is why people RSVP now days.
I kept going out to the street looking down the block for late arrivals. My mother finally got things started.
Somehow I sensed my mother feeling sad for me and I remember putting on a care-less face for her and plowing my way through it determined to make it a party. Though deep inside I must have felt sad because today, though I don’t own the sadness anymore, I empathize with that little boy’s disappointment as if he were someone else.
We played potato races across the living room floor, racing from one side to the other while trying to balance potatoes on the tops of our shoes. Then there was a relay while trying to keep a ping-pong ball from falling out of a teaspoon held in one hand. Of course we had Pin the Tail on the Donkey, a staple at birthday parties and another game that involved clothespins, but I can’t remember exactly what that was. That’s all I really remember of the games we played. We also had plenty of “extra” prizes to go around too. With plans made for a house full of kids, I imagine it didn’t last very long with so few attending.
The one photograph I have shows me smiling like I really meant it, the two girls and my brother Mark at the dining room table eating cake and ice cream.
Because we didn’t get very many parties, it wasn’t something I could count on to try again the next year. In fact, I didn’t want to do a repeat of that anyway. It would be a long time before I risked being a pariah again.
The year before I was invited to the Chucko the Birthday Clown TV show for my 5th birthday. However, just a month before my birthday, they sent a postcard telling us that the show was canceled. I think it kicked the wind out of my mother too, because between that and my too quiet of a party, they were the last of the great birthday attempts she ever made.
1963 was the year President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. The Beatles would hit the scene the next year in their movie, A Hard Day’s Night and after that the Vietnam war would play primetime television until the war ended.
So, no Bobby to set my future sure, no guys to validate my fitting in to the social circle of dudes, just two girls and my brother who had to be there. I remember the girls being very sweet, and though no future friendships ever blossomed with them, I’m thankful they showed up, it was enough to call it a party….
P.S – My head is returning to the Ozarks