Birthday party etiquette

Dear Jacob’s Mom,

Today my 6 year old son, Pigpen attended Jacob’s 7th birthday party. Over the years, Pigpen has attended numerous events of this sort, and so we have come to learn proper party-throwing etiquette. Unfortunately, it appears as if no one has informed you of several unspoken rules, so I thought it best to jot down a few pointers for you. No need to thank me.

First of all, when a guest arrives, you should greet them in a friendly manner immediately. You should introduce yourself to the parent, and introduce yourself to the child, using the name you would like to be addressed as. For instance, if you would prefer the child to call you “Mrs L” or “Miss Anne”, you should say so, all the while smiling invitingly so that the child feels secure in your presence. You can now imagine why it was so awkward for us to arrive at the bowling alley and stand near the table marked “Jacob” for close to 20 minutes, searching for the adult in charge. You can imagine how confusing it was for us to make the decision to order bowling shoes, find a ball, and guess at the location where the gifts should be placed. Pigpen pointed out the birthday boy, and I sweetly asked him where his mother was. Your demon spawn of a child refused to even look at me and in the snottiest manner imaginable, said “I dunno.” He then gave me a handful of quarters and asked me if I’d “hold his money for him” while he played video games. This brings me to another helpful tip.

In cases where arcade games and such are in abundance, it is generally good form to give each of your guests a modest amount of quarters or tokens for equal playing time. Instead, your snot nosed kids stood at the games, feeding quarter after quarter while the rest of the boys stood there watching, penniless and longing for their turn.

After a long while, when I finally spotted you (and only because your son had run out of money and was hanging off of you), I approached you with a bright smile and a handshake. You looked at me as if I was a creature from outer space and your limp hand in mine felt clammy and unsure. I introduced myself and my son, and asked when I could come to pick him up. You said “3:30, and write your cell number on that piece of paper over there.” I turned my head to see where you were pointing, and when I looked back, you were gone. Perhaps you were busy (I understand how crazy birthday parties can get) but you came across as incredibly rude, and quite frankly, I was concerned about leaving my child in your charge.

Tentatively, I left, but when I came to pick up Pigpen, things got worse. I removed his bowling shoes and returned them to the counter, where I was informed that I was to pay $7.50 for the game my son had played during the course of the party. I explained to the manager that my son had been a guest at Jacob’s birthday party, but I came to find out that I was still responsible for payment. What would I have done if I didn’t actually have $7.50? If I would have known that I was going to have to pay for my son to attend such a fancy social affair, I would have only spent $3 on your kid’s present instead of $10. I suggest that in the future, if you insist on being such a fucking cheapskate, you should let your guests know ahead of time, either when you INITIALLY GREET THEM, or better yet–in the written invitation. I do hope that this letter will spare you from further embarassment in the future.

Sincerely,

Estella H.

P.S. Your kid looks like George Michael with his ear pierced like that. I should have expected as much from this party the first time I laid eyes on him. Ah well. You live, you learn.

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