Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Ugliest Party Room

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.


  1. You get a thousand extra mother points for this one, babe. They will be applied when you get to heaven where you will be able to choose from the higher class crowns and tiaras for Celestial Wearing.
    That picture of you is priceless.

  2. Thank God that's over! The cake was very cool.

  3. "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."

    SO TRUE!

  4. What were you thinking? Do not ever attempt that again without an accomplice. Yes, I'm offering. Random awesome thing among many in that post: "Alhambra, which, while sounding exotic..." Hahahahahahaha.

  5. a.Honey, you have clearly not spent enough time in a Chuck E. Cheese, a place that will hereby deaden your senses to any and all noise/terrible pizza/bad taste for all eternity. 'Cause there's nothing worse than The Cheese.
    b. Yes, it does amaze me how innate the desire to shoot stuff is.
    c. Glad Oliver et al had fun.
    d. Glad you survived.
    e. The 9 cake rocked.
    f. The Swiss are sharp shooters? I thought they were pacifists.

  6. Love this post.
    You made me laugh on a day when this mothering gig is far far from places I'd rather be.

    and the cake was fabulous.

  7. He's such a handsome boy! What a beautiful profile.

    Your cake looks delicious. I love the rocket and the way you made it!

    Kids' birthday parties seem to be torture for adults; I don't know why. Maybe it's because our idea of fun is so different from theirs? But what's important is that you gave him a wonderful party to HIS liking, and the memories from it will last in his heart. That's a gift of love!

  8. Your cake turned out so cool (I know I can't say "cute" about a boys cake) .... and I am so knowing what you're talking about with the birthday party. I always feel so guilty for dreading the party - and then for feeling such relief when it's over. That's when I remind myself that they only have a "party" every other year. The year off is a "special friend" outing. (My own personal save my sanity strategy that the kids are gracious enough to accept) This year is the "year off" year .... whew!

  9. hysterical. every bit of it.

    i wonder if my rudolf steiner kids will expect me to drag their hand-felted posteriors to party rooms and laser tag. eegads.

    and the bit about blogging making you mindful of weirdness and story?

    michelle has developed this habit of completely sliding out of conciousness. when you ask her if she's okay, she replies that she's just writing a post on her head.


  10. You are so funny :) And your cake rocks!

  11. Having traveled through that particular ring of hell (3 boys!) even at the time / space remove, I feel your pain. Made this woman wonder if her sons were in anyway related to her- especially when they had that shoot'em gleam in their eyes.
    It's a phase, it will pass (or at least move on to computer games)- but hopefully they will have a life long appreciation of a good cake!

  12. The things we mothers do. And I know what you mean about ugly places. Ugly and unfit for human habitation. How do these places evolve in the first place?

  13. In our neck of the woods, a sharp shooter is something that wipes out vineyards (a bug, I am told).

    This post has me screaming, laughing, crying. I LOVE your 9 cake. "Oh," I say outloud. "It's a NINE!" Well, it rates a 10.

    Thank goodness you lived through this one. Laser tag is terrible. Boys love it. You love your boy=you are there.

    I am reminded of driving way too many miles with an Explorer full of Jr High soccer players, reaching my limit for weird language and obnoxious behavior; I put the window lock ON so they could not roll down windows and put arms, legs etc etc out, put the pedal-to-the-metal and got them home as quickly as was legal.

    Just had to go bake a cake

  14. I love the cake and I love your story. You so win the cake award in our family, I have to show this to the kids. It's amazing what makes kids happy...at least you don't have paintball to deal with. Or maybe you do??? That's a SPORT where we live. There's an aisle in the local sporting goods store to buy paintball stuff...

  15. Happy Birthday to Oliver! Party looks AWESOME (as far as 9 year old boys are concerned). Ah, the sacrifices -- little and big -- that we make for our kids!!!!

    And by the way..that cake ROCKS.



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