Happy Birthday, Mom!
A look back to a last minute surprise party
I didn’t get the idea until I was on the bus, on the way home from school. Well, really, I didn’t get the idea at all; it was Jane’s idea. Jane was my new best friend. I had just transferred to Olsen from McNichol, for my last year of middle school, and Jane was the first person I met at the bus stop on the first day of school. We bonded instantly due to our similar senses of humor, even though Jane was in the prep group and I was a misfit.
I had told Jane how my mom was often angry after work, and how she would scream at me for any little thing, like the apartment not being perfectly clean. Jane had witnessed a couple of my mom’s tirades, too, so she knew why I was anxious about my mom’s birthday. I was really worried that my mom would be extra angry on her fortieth birthday. From what I could see on TV and in the movies, turning forty was something really sad. I was so anxious about going home that I had a stomachache. That’s when Jane came up with the brilliant idea.
“You should throw her a surprise party,” Jane said to me, turning sideways in her seat so that we were facing each other. We were sitting across the aisle from each other, with our backs against the bus windows and our legs stretched out.
“Yeah right! She’d probably get mad at me for getting streamers on the floor. Plus, her birthday is TODAY. I don’t have time to plan a party, or any money.” My mother was known for making me clean after school and getting super pissed if I didn’t
Jane got this look on her face like she had the best idea ever. “I can get my mom to help, and we can get stuff at Dunham’s!”
Dunham’s was a small convenience store next to our bus stop. It was a true mom and pop store at the time, and it was tiny, probably 700 square feet at most, with creaky hard wood floors and a very limited selection of food. Jane and I went there just about every day to get ice cream or a candy bar. So, we knew we could at least get a couple of bags of chips and a bottle of Diet Coke, my mom’s favorite.
So, we ran to Jane’s house to tell her mom what we wanted to do. She gave us a little money, and then we scraped together a few more bucks between Jane’s Esprit and my Jordache purses. We had just enough to get a bag of Ruffles, some sour cream and onion dip in a can, and a two-liter of Diet Coke.
We lugged our bags to my apartment and tried to decorate it by making our own birthday signs with paper and Markers. I called Hannah to see if she could come over before my mom got home. Jane’s mom came over, too.
My mom wasn’t a big fan of Jane’s mom because she had once told Jane that she could never sleep over at my house because my mom was a “divorcee”. I guess back in 1984 being a “divorcee” meant you held swinger parties and gave drugs to children. Anyway, Jane never did sleep over my house.
So, even though it was last minute, and Hannah was not a last minute kind of person, she made it. Jane and I managed to fill the little apartment’s living room with Hannah and Laurie, Jane’s mom and little sister, Jane, and me.
Mom was surprised all right. She thought it was silly that I would be afraid that she would be upset about her 40th birthday. She did that thing where she acted like she didn’t have a Mommy Dearest temper. She chuckled over her silly daughter being worried about her being pissed off.
Thanks for reading Chasing Normal ! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.