The party was in full swing.
The food table that stood against the wall on the right-hand side of the room was adorned with a red and white checked tablecloth and was laden with trays of spaghetti with huge meatballs, buffalo wings, soft, perfectly-fluffy mashed potatoes and bowls of vegetables and assorted toppings for the salad. In the middle sat a gigantic cake with a red barn standing on top of it and the words “Happy 1st birthday!” decoratively written on the side surrounded by the cutest little cupcakes topped with precious little sugar treats shaped like animals.
On either side of this were the table for desserts – on the left was the ice cream station, on the other, various fruits and delectable treats cut up into small pieces for the chocolate fountain that stood beckoning to people. I wondered to myself how long it will take for someone to put my genius idea into action: get ice cream and sprinkle some of that chocolate and treats on top. Probably not too long.
Colorful balloons brightened the hall, the loot bags containing candies, miniature puzzles and plastic bottles of bubbles were displayed at the front, along with prizes for the winners of parlor games. The piñata filled with more candies hung in the ceiling and was spinning slowly. I was glad everything was just as I imagined they would look like. The background music was just right. Not too deafening which tends to happen at kiddie parties.
In my arms was the birthday girl all dolled up and might I say, looking pretty stinkin’ cute in her ladybug costume that we had ordered custom-made.
The little people were wrapping up their 2nd parlor game when the host decided it was time for gifts to be opened.
A single thought flashed through my mind. Now? Before the food has been served? But it seemed to be fine with everyone as they shouted their approval. She called me to the front with my Little Miss and I hollered to My Man so we could both be in on the fun together.
Then Dumbo, my sister-in-law’s Shih Tzu, came bounding over with us and sniffed at my feet as I stopped and stared.
What was he doing here?
I pasted on a smile and gave My Man a confused, questioning look. He didn’t seem fazed by the dog’s presence so I shrugged it off and sat on the chair provided for me and my Little Miss.
Nothing about the wrapped box was remarkable except for the fact that it had no gift tag and it was smaller than most of the other ones. But it was a bit heavier. And warm.
I tore off the wrapping and saw it was an old blue kids’ shoebox. Something moved and I gave a nervous yelp.
I gingerly took the top off and out. Flew. A. PARROT. Chaos broke out.
Chairs scraped across the floor, kids screamed and the dog started barking furiously and went off to chase after it. Everything was in slow motion. Something inside me clicked and from there it was like an out-of-body experience. I handed My Man the wailing Little Miss. I couldn’t believe what I was doing. I mean, this is me we’re talking about – I wasn’t a fan of touching animals! I didn’t know what I was thinking aside from the very real possibility that it might head for the food table (and poop on them!) or worse, bite someone. The only thought racing through my head was to try and preserve the cheer of the party. And I remember silently wishing that someone would please turn the darned Barney music off. Then I watched myself take off and join the other 3 people who were frantically trying to catch the surprise guest.
I watched as he flittered and fluttered to each table and as one by one each man failed to capture him. I calculated his path and just knew he was heading straight for the food table.
He landed on the cupcake tower and started to nibble on the cake.
“NOT THE CAKE!” I realized I actually yelled this out loud.
I froze for a second and snapped to action. No one was going to mess with my kid’s yet untouched birthday cake, candles still unlit and un-blown. No way.
I grabbed the parrot by the body and heard people cheer behind me, the kids clapping. Then I freaked out and shouted for someone, anyone, to take the thing from me. Quick!
That was when the bird bit me.
And I woke up.