Birthdays just don't end over here, and Oliver's has been no exception. He celebrated his "real" birthday on May 10th, but we had his party this past weekend, and it was at this party that I truly was grateful to be a blogger. The reason? Well, blogging, for those of you who don't do it, makes one especially mindful of detail and weirdness and story. During Oliver's entire birthday party, there was a part of me that was so mindful of blogging possibilities that I was able to not be driven mad by the circumstances.
That was a convoluted way to explain that blogging can sometimes help retain one's sanity.
Oliver chose to take ten of his friends to Ultrazone, a laser tag place, that I found by googling cheap laser tag. Ultrazone touted itself as the largest laser tag facility in the southland, so I signed up for the lowest priced birthday party package. My "party coordinator" told me that the party would be for two hours and that our party would have a private party room. Ultrazone would supply the pizza (that I bought), paper cups and plates and decorations. The boys would play two games of laser tag and have ample time for pizza, arcade games, and then birthday cake.
I should preface this by telling you that the night before the party, I pulled out my rusty pastry chef skills and made and decorated the cake. In case you can't figure it out (skills are very rusty!), the cake is the number 9 colored with various shades of blue icing and decorated to look like a rocket has taken off toward space.
The laser tag place was in ALHAMBRA which while sounding exotic, is NOT. Alhambra is far, far away, deep, deep into the outer reaches of the southland. I'm already having anxiety typing out this description because taking twelve boys to Alhambra to play laser tag is just not my idea of a good time.
Ultrazone has an arcade with a number of horrible gun video games -- all of which my son played with a startling accuracy (perhaps he has inherited the sharp-shooter gene from his Swiss daddy?). All the boys played these incredibly loud, flashing, obnoxious games with a depressing intensity.
The din in the place was remarkable, the lights flashing and constant intercom voices calling people to the laser tag room an assault on the senses. I tried to hide in our "party room," but it was so ugly I found it an assault on my senses as well. The walls were a mustard-colored cinder block, and the overhead fluorescent lights were broken up by ripped-up acoustic tile. The decorations included six balloons tied to folding chairs, the predominant color being gold. Our party coordinator was named Edgar and while attentive and nice, even Oliver said he was weird. The paper plates were those white picnic-style ones and the cups were styrofoam. Evidently, green is not a concept that has hit Ultrazone, yet. I commented to one of the boy's mothers that it was easily the ugliest party room that I'd ever been to.
The boys, though, my sons included, were ecstatic. This place is cool! they yelled, dashing into and out of the world's ugliest party room, eating really bad pizza and sipping Sprite from a 2-gallon plastic bottle. I know that I sound snotty, but the place was so ugly it wasn't even retro.
What is it about boys and guns and laser tag? Do they have no sense of aesthetics? When does this sense develop?
(those are plastic ivy vines over the door leading to the sacred inner chamber where the laser tag is played)
and here we have glowing plastic fire pots, adorned with more plastic ivy
I was miserable, except for the moment when Oliver blew out the candles of his cake.
It wasn't only because I love my boy and was happy to see him happy but because I knew the party was just about over.