Monday, November 07, 2005

Pump Up the Jams (election style)!

Yesterday I took Ariel to a Pump It Up! birthday party.

The party took place in a large warehouse-type building in one of the industrial outskirts of our "Irish" suburb. Driving up to it, you wouldn't expect that anything fun could take place in a place like this--unless you enjoy running inventory or maybe operating a forklift.

But, no! Ariel and I entered the nondescript building and were assaulted by bright primary colors on every wall. After presenting the waiver (can't play without a waiver that assures no one will sue anyone about anything) and verifying that Ariel had socks, we awaited the rest of our party goers. Because I had to drive across the top of the city to get there, we were early.

Eventually several of Ariel's old daycare friends started arriving. These are the kids that Ariel grew up with from when she was six weeks old. She remembered their names and I had a good few minutes saying hello to parents I haven't seen in about a year or so.

When all the kids had arrived, we watched the five minute video about the rules. (Imagine a corporately-produced sexual harassment but replace the sexual harassment with about ten rules that five-year-olds are supposed to remember. You can judge the lameness of the video: Rule #1--Only one person at a time going down the big slide; Rule #2--Only three people at a time going up the slide steps; Rule #3--Only two people going through the obstacle course at a time; Rule #4--You may only go in one direction on the obstacle course . . . Rule #15--If the Staff person blows the whistle, give up any hope of every having fun that isn't structured to death.)

Finally the indoctrination is over; let the fun begin! We enter our reserved Party Room and are confronted with large inflatable "fun structures." If you have ever been to my company's Summer Picnic you can imagine these structures. They are virtually identical to those inflatable things.

There was the aforementioned 20-ft. tall slide (with about a 50 degree decline), the obstacle course that also ended in a steep slide, a standard-issue bouncy cage, and a place to throw balls into three holes in the wall. Mix with twenty-five 4- to 5-year-olds, set to bouncy generic 80s sports pop, and have fun!

After the running, sliding, and bouncing were over, we adjourned to secondary Party Room for the eating of cake and the opening of presents.

All in all, a fun two hours spent.

On the way home, however, tragedy struck.

As she was leaving the party, Ariel received a treat bag with candy, small toys, etc. She also got a helium balloon. She tied the very long balloon string to the treat bag. As we drove home across the cities northern face she had fun with the balloon, making it dance to the evening jazz program on the public radio station. We we exited the Interstate and hit our city's surface streets, she opened her passenger window a bit (it's an old-style crank--no electrics) and had more fun watching the wind's slip stream push the balloon around a bit more vigorously.

But then she took it a step further.

She decided to dangle the treat bag out the window, trolling it in the wind. Being the permissive father that I am, I let it happen. What I didn't consider was the long balloon string. Ariel was clearly enjoying her window fun, but when we pulled into the garage and I stepped out of the car to open her door, I saw the folly of our choices.

The long balloon string had allowed the treat bag to drag along the road behind the car rather than in the air beside the car. As a result, the cheap cellophane bag had burst open, scattering the candy and cheap toys all along the darkness of State Street.

Truly Ariel was sad when she discovered this.

I felt bad and somewhat responsible for letting it happen, but the overall idea of the event was also kind of funny.
Some info had appeared regarding Spiderman 3. I have been vocal in the past about my concerns over the villains/actors for this sequel. This news still doesn't placate me entirely, but it at least looks competent. I withhold any further criticism as a sign of good faith.
Finally, don't you Georgians out there wish you lived in Ohio with me? Only here can you get pre-recorded election messages from Archie Griffin and John Glenn, both within five minutes of each other! That's right, college football's only two-time Heisman Trophy winner and the first American to orbit the Earth are trying their mechanically-enhanced darndest to talk me into voting their way!

But no matter what famous celebrity tries to sway you, get out and VOTE!


lulu said...

Once again . . . I have The Insider (VHS), Station Agent (DVD) and Mighty Wind (DVD) if you want to borrow them.

You sure do attend a lot of birthday parties. Kid's birthday parties have always been anathema to me, even when they sound fun (like this one, rules excluded). Stevie has been invited to a few but we have set a precedent of not going to any of them. There are several reasons: we don't want to buy tacky stuff for kids we don't know, we don't want to have a similar birthday party and invite a bunch of virtual strangers and tacky toys into our home (or overpriced kid's station), we want to stay virtual strangers with the other parents in the day care because we don't care to make new friends, day care is transitory, and we certainly don't care to make friends with the parents of the brats Stevie must endure every day. I saw one such parent today. His kid is a snot and a real pain in the teacher's butt. Dad got into some sort of Infiniti sports car with tricked-out rims and I callously thought "Ah-ha".

David said...

Who's peevish now?

1. I'll take the movies; and thanks.
2. I understand your stance on birthday parties and support it to a degree. But these are Ariel's oldest friends in her small little life. We want to try and maintain some connection to them for now. The present we bought was only $12 and supported art and creativity (wrapped in the guise of Princess guff).

lulu said...

It's not so much a stance as a preference. The kids will probably always have fun, and I certainly don't begrudge you maintaining Ariel's friendships! There's no need to explain. You know how Kev and I feel about leaving the house.

Maybe I'm feeling the angst of Stevie's upcoming move out of Expensive Private K and into Local Yokel Elementary. He is not happy about the switch.