I’m a Party Planner

(excerpt from solo performance piece I wrote in 2007 – copyright 2009)
I’m a Party Planner
I’m a Party Planner
Yes, I am a Party Planner.
I don’t look like a Party Planner
(do I? What is that?)
I don’t feel like a Party Planner
In fact the thought of planning parties fills me with complete and utter terror.
And that is how I have awakened each morning these past 15 1/2 years.
In complete and utter terror.

Terror that I’d forget someone’s birthday party. That little Jimmy would not meet Batman as promised. That his dreams of Superherodom would be crushed by my negligence. By my selfishness. By the chaos of my life. And it is, you know, my life. It is chaos. How’s this for a typical morning.

I wake up, 6:20, my cat slapping me across the face, I stumble
I shower, I prepare my teenage daughter’s nonexistent lunch, I drive her uptown to her high school, on the way back I phone my 10 yr. old son on his cellphone, wake-up wake-up, get in the shower, be ready when I get back. I call a friend. I return home. I drive him around the corner to school, running in to the deli to get him a gatorade and a snack for his lunch. I drive around the corner back to my $500 a month parking lot, my boyfriend calls, we meet, I only have 20 minutes but we are Masters of 20 minutes and those 20 minutes are my favorite minutes of the day. I’m lucky I think. As we are loving each other my phone vibrates, I look down, it’s the client who calls me every day for the past 4 months even though her party is still a year away. Then his phone lets out a symphony – it’s his boss – he’s late, as usual. But I don’t care this time because he’s with me, I’m not on the receiving end.

Then I have to run, I’ll be late. My therapist.
I speak to a client from the cab – yes, yes, we can combine Cinderella and Darth Vader. No problem. He’ll attend the ball and steal her slipper which has the power to destroy the entire Federation. In the end he’ll turn into a Prince. Of course, happy endings always.

My phone bleeps, call waiting. It’s my daughter’s therapist. Am I a bad mother for not picking up? For forgetting to call her back?

I go to my therapist. She repeats herself often. Telling me the same 4 stories over and over. Does she really forget that she’s told me this anecdote oh maybe about 50 times these past 9 years? I feel like strangling her for this. It makes me feel like I’m an idiot. Is she testing me? Seeing when I’ll get enough courage to tell her, STOP, YOU’VE TOLD ME THIS STORY ALREADY – the one with your granddaughter crying and her dad saying to her, “Stop acting like a child.”  And her response, “I can cry. I AM a child.” Aghhhhhh.

Then I have to run out of there. I am late for my al-anon meeting. I go there because my boyfriend I was just fucking is a hard core alcoholic. Drugs, jail, no money, the works. But I love him. No one gets me the way he does. So, I’m off to the R train to head back downtown.

From the subway station to the meeting I get a call from my office. You have a couple of messages. The cake lady wants to know if you need that treasure chest cake, workmen’s comp is going to be canceled for non-payment if you don’t send them $4,000, and Mindy called. Oh no, not again. Oh yeah and we got a nice message from Sally Shore. She said her kid LOVED the party and told her “this is what heaven must feel like.”  That made my day. That and the screwing.

Al-Anon – the usual cast of characters. I don’t say anything. Just sit and listen.

Run out of the meeting and get a call from my landlord – I’ve found a loophole to get you out of your apartment and I intend to pursue that course. “But we’ve been neighbors for 20 years.” “My attorney informs me that your renovations are in violation of your rent stabilized lease and that we have grounds for eviction.” “Do you really need the extra rent? Will it make a difference in your life if I fix my place up, renovating my apartment and that I’m rent stabilized and that he can’t make the amount of money he’s entitled to in this crazy NY real estate market. No matter that he has a successful business, owns a few buildings on this fabulous block in the hottest section of downtown. No matter that he doesn’t really need to hassle me while I really do need a private room for my daughter. No matter. It’s just business, that’s all.

I concoct a letter to him in my head – my usual weapon
Dear Sir, I know you’re a businessman. I know it’s only business. You want to make more money. As if that more will secure you more serenity, more assurances that you and your kids won’t die some day, more protection against life, against loss. But what about heart? What about doing what’s right for a change? We’ve been living here for a long time. My kids are growing up here just are yours. Is it necessary to give us a hard time, to call your lawyers, to make more money? Can’t that more money wait until later? Is it really going to make a big difference in your life? The building is yours – you will have our home one day – but is my trying to carve out a little more comfort going to harm you and yours? Does it have any impact on your life, on your family’s life, will this make or break you? Does it even make an indent?

But, it makes a big difference in ours. Privacy, a bathtub – not huge requests — a place to live — if you don’t take any action your life stays the same, if you take action our life does not. You can alter the course of our life because you saw an opportunity for more money. For a way out of this horrible rent stabilization that has condemned you and your family to such tragic circumstances – I’m sure your life would be hugely different if we were not here.

Another call. My daughter’s therapist.
ME: “I’m trying not to be angry at her. I really am. I’m just frustrated. Better than collapsing and showing her how distraught I am over the fact that she hasn’t had a glass of juice in 3 fucking years. You know this anorexia thing is very counter-intuitive for a parent.”

A call from a client – Your daughter wants a fashion show party. Oh sure, We can do that. We do their make-up, then teach them the 4 simple steps for walking on the runway. Oh, it’s very tongue in cheek, not supermodelly, they can bark like a dog if they wish – it’s about personality and attitude. We dance with the girls. No, it’s not too sexy.
(I wonder if this somehow is in conflict with my daughter’s eating disorder.)

IT”S ABOUT FUN PEOPLE, F-U-N-, Fun, It’s a party for crying out loud, don’t you get it. A party. Enjoy yourself. Don’t worry about the color of the plates and the balloons and whether or not the other moms have seen this entertainer before. JUST HAVE FUN.

And then I suddenly am reminded of G-d who is stuck up there with his megaphone,

IT’S ABOUT FUN PEOPLE, It’s about enjoying yourselves, and laughing, people. Don’t worry about the color of your napkins people, the type of car you drive, the sub-zero refrigerator you want so bad, it’s about friends and family and kindness and fun and LOVE PEOPLE – Now follow me — The more we get together together together the more we get together the happier we’ll be – There’s Marla, and Sammy and Katie and Sydney –the more we get together the happier we’ll be –if you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.

Could it all be as simple as that – circle time. I think of the children’s faces when they hear these songs, how they jump around in pure jubilation, stomping, clapping, twirling and I wonder – could it all be that simple – can it?

I think I’m going to sit down and join in G-d’s great big circle time.
G-d knows I need it.

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