Happy Blah Day


When I was around eight or nine years old my Dad’s cousin came to live with us.

She had disappeared, and I do mean disappeared off of the face of the Earth a few years before and everyone assumed the worst. She had been in a relationship with a hard living, hard drinking guy with a bad temper and it had been assumed that she may have meant an untimely end.

But it turned out she was alive and pregnant and needed a place to stay, so she stayed with us.

She moved ina few month before my birthday.

I liked her ok. She seemed kind of clueless about kids and she was always correcting every word that fell out of my little brother’s mouth. Like he called our parents Mommy and Daddy and she said that a big six year old like him shouldn’t talk baby talk.

When he slipped up,  she laughed at him and told him she had a stack of bottles and diapers and maybe she should just put diapers on him. Once he said ” horsey ” instead of horse and she sent him to his room with a pacifier.

He was afraid of her after that.

My best friend at  the time was a boy named Darrin. We rode bikes in the snow, built a fort in my back yard, caught the Mumps together and we saw cool things like his cat having kittens.

So on the night my Dad’s cousin and  my Mom and I were writing out invitations to my upcoming party, my Dad’s cousin looked at the one I was writing out ( and decorating because like I said, Darrin was my best friend ) and she said ” are you inviting boys? ”

” No. I’m inviting Darrin. ”

She rolled her eyes up and laughed, which sort of made the hairs on my neck stand up because that is what she did before she picked on my little brother.

My Mom looked up and my Dad’s cousin said to her, ” Do you know Anita is inviting that little black boy from next door?”

I remember sliding Darrin’s invitation off of the table and hiding it on my lap. ” Darrin’s Mom is making my cake. ” I didn’t know what else to say, but my Mom  got up, pulled my chair out and told me to take the invitation to Darrin and to not take all day about it.

Yeah. It took all day. My listening skills weren’t so great.

So on the day of my party Darrin was the first to show up and we were playing this game where you stood up on a chair and tried to drop clothes pins into a milk bottle. We were pretty awful at it, but it was keeping us out of the way while the last minute stuff was going on so my Mom and Darrin’s Mom left us to it.

My Dad’s cousin grabbed the clothes pin out of my hand and said,  ” You know you can’t play these games at the party. You can’t win any prizes. Those are for your guests.  You’re a selfish little brat, aren’t you?”

I started to cry. I mean. I thought my party was on the verge of being canceled.  ” Don’t be a baby. Stopped that sniffling.”

Darrin came to my rescue, sort of. ” Oh. Anita never wins games. Not even pin the tail on the donkey. Remember that time you ended up in the kitchen and pinned it to the fridge? ”

” Yeah. That was funny.”

” Then there was another time she almost stuck it in Valerie’s eye and that’s why use tape. ”

” I hate Pin the Tail on the Donkey now . ”

My Dad’s cousin was angry. Her face was red.

” That doesn’t matter. You can’t play any games and I better not catch you at it. ”

There was no way I wanted to end up in my room with a clothes pin in one hand and a pacifier in the other at my party so I didn’t play a single game.

I showed up when my Mom said it was time to blow out the candles and open presents.

My Mom and Darrin’s Mom had more games planned and everyone was pretty excited because they had saved the treat bags with candy AND prizes for the last big game. I’m pretty sure every kid who played got one of those bags. I think it was our Moms way of making sure all of my guests got a little gift for coming.

I don’t remember what that game was. Me and Darrin wondered off to the back of the room and  I taught Darrin how to ” walk the dog ” with his yo-yo.  Our Moms just assumed that we preferred each other’s company to everyone else’s as usual, so they let us alone.

To be honest I was misreable because even though I was pretty awful at party games and never won, I had fun playing them. But everytime I looked over to  where they were playing games, my Dad’s cousin was there with her arms folded over her chest and she was glaring at me.

Every year when my birthday rolls around, this black cloud drifts down when someone says ” Happy Birthday ” and  I can see my Dad’s cousin standing there with her arms folded over her chest and it really does make my heart feel cold and sad.


Guess who got force marched into every single one of her two Sons birthday parties every year and HAD to stand in line to play party games  with one of her ‘little men’ where sometimes they even won prizes-

and they both called her Mommy into their 40’s.

That’s why.


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