Of course Mr. Maturity had to start-up before we even left the house.
He told Ashley that to “be fair,” she should drive to the party with him and she could come home with me. I seriously thought he needed to have his head examined. What middle-aged professional man in his right mind would be so petty and childish?
The two of them quickly left. I was stuck packing up my truck and back seat with the cake, prizes and games all by myself.
Of course they arrived at the restaurant on time to greet the guests.
As was so typical of my life, I was late.
It wasn’t enough that I was stuck in heavy rush-hour traffic. A slow-moving train blocked the road for several minutes, delaying me even further. As I was unable to move, the longer I sat in my car watching the minutes tick by on the clock on my dashboard, frustration and anger steadily mounted inside of me.
When I finally pulled up to the restaurant, several of Ashley’s friends were already there. I was left alone to unload the car, bring everything in and set up.
Just as well-deserved self-pity welcomed itself inside my body, an ensemble of perfectly pitched voices in my head started singing a popular song from several decades ago. With full gusto, the belted out It’s My Party And I’ll Cry If I Want To…Cry If I Want To…Cry If I Want To…You Would Cry Too If It Happened To You.
Following their directive, the tears started welling up in my eyes. Immediately I had to stop, as I reminded myself that this wasn’t my party. It was Ashley’s special night. She deserved it to be happy, fun and carefree. My pity party was put on temporary hold. I knew without a doubt, there would be plenty of opportunities in the near future to reschedule. After taking several long, deep cleansing breaths, I repeated over and over to myself…I will not let Dick ruin my night…I will not let Dick ruin my night…I will not let Dick ruin my night.
Forcing a smile on my face, I made my way to the party room. Acting like nothing was wrong, I quickly got organized, took out my new camera and started taking pictures of Ashley and her friends.
Dick was already playing the “Host with the Most.” I don’t know how this guy always did it. He didn’t lift a finger to do anything, yet everything always fell into place for him.
About five minutes later, Dick came up to me and with a cocky sneer, informed me that he invited his best friend Bruce to come. to the party. I looked at him with total disbelief and told him that was completely inappropriate and he had no business doing that. Very curtly, he told me not to make an issue about it and walked away. My blood started to boil. He had so much nerve. Did this guy ever take a break from being an annoying pain in the neck?
Just as the girls sat down to eat, Bruce walked into the room. Immediately he came up to me, gave me a hug and told me he hoped I wasn’t upset that he was there. I told him I didn’t mind, but I was very surprised to find out after the party started that he was invited. Dick, Bruce and I (in that order) sat down at a small table on the side and ate dinner together. Actually it was a blessing in disguise that he was there. Bruce became the perfect buffer and prevented any unnecessary petty arguing from occurring. He also wound up being very good company. The whole evening he talked to me and pretty much ignored Dick.
All in all, the party was a complete success. Everyone devoured the mozzarella sticks, salad and assorted varieties of pizza served. The girls enjoyed Ashley’s trivia and had a lot of fun playing “ASHLY.” My daughter was in all her glory. She was beaming the whole evening and made quite the Mistress of Ceremonies. I’ve never seen Ashley so confident and in such complete control of a group. I don’t know when I’ve been more proud of her.
Her cake was also a big hit. After the girls finished eating dessert, Ashley began opening her presents. One of her closest friends took on the role of writing everything Ashley said on the cloth napkin. A lot of the girls were intrigued by what she was doing and helped her keep up with the dictation.
The night flew by and when the party was supposed to be over, Ashley was still unwrapping gifts. Needless to say, whatever she said, was not read to the group. The girls didn’t totally get the concept anyway. They thought Ashley was supposed to save the napkin and read it on her wedding night. Who knows…maybe they’ll start a new tradition.
It was getting late. I still had to fill up my gas tank and pack for my trip. Ashley was in a quandary. She didn’t know who to go home with. Trying to play by Dick’s ridiculous rules, she wanted to keep things equal. I told her that I had to stop at the gas station and if she wanted to go straight home, she should go with her dad. That was what she wound up doing.
Once home, I had to get everything together for my weekend at college. I was planning on leaving early the next morning, so I would be able to spend as much time with Josh as possible.
I was really looking forward to getting out-of-town and taking a breather from Dick.