Real Life at Home: Jennifer's Birthday Party Disaster

Real Life at Home: Jennifer's Birthday Party Disaster

Jennifer Hunter
Nov 30, 2011

I've never been much for birthdays. My December birthday is usually lost amidst holiday parties and travel plans. For four years of college, I spent the day studying because it always fell during finals week. I've even come to accept the dreaded birthday/Christmas combo present, the bane of my childhood existence.

Last year, as my 30th birthday approached, I felt an increasing sense of dread. I knew I should do something to mark the occasion, but with my birthday angst, I was tempted to ignore it altogether. Finally, a week before the big day, I took a leap and sent out an evite. My boyfriend offered up his posh loft as the venue, and the RSVPs started rolling in.

I began to feel optimistic, excited even. After all, I was now an adult, an adult who would throw a sophisticated yet relaxed party. My guests would be wowed by my ease and grace as a hostess, by my melt-in-your-mouth appetizers and my pitch-perfect playlist. I would float around the golden party, refilling champagne flutes and collecting birthday wishes.

Cut to: the day of the party, noon. I sat on the kitchen island, bawling. The counter and floor were covered with flour, which was simply the last straw in a series of escalating disasters. Outside, it was pouring rain, which is a special kind of torture in Los Angeles where people are just not mentally or physically equipped for water falling from the sky. I had managed to alienate my entire support staff (my boyfriend) by picking a fight with him until he left the apartment. For ten minutes, I cried and thought about canceling.

Then I took a shower... and a nap. I made up with my boyfriend, who was so relieved I'd avoided a full-blown crack-up that he volunteered for liquor store duty. I went to the grocery where I...gasp...bought everything. I abandoned my artisanal, homemade aspirations and instead I bought a cake mix, brie and the fancy olives I never get for myself. I made the boxed cake and a pitcher of my "holiday cocktail" by mixing cranberry juice with champagne, throwing in some frozen raspberries from a bag. I lit a bunch of candles and called it a day.

I relinquished control; I realized that one party is not a reflection on the entire decade of my 30's. In the end, all my friends braved the rain and turned up. I even got compliments on my "homemade" cake, which I readily accepted. I finally relaxed and had fun, which allowed everyone else to have fun. And that is what everyone remembers about my party.

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