By Jill Greenwood
Whoever thought of “goodie bags” for kids’ birthday parties needs to be drawn and quartered. There’s a certain place in hell for the person who thought, “You know . . . I think that I should give the kids who came to my child’s party something awesome to take home,” because parents, being parents, would start the whole my-A-is-better-than-your-B process. No longer were goodie bags “good enough” with some candy and a few trinkets-du-crap from the Oriental Trading. No . . . people started to give away shit that was almost on par with the presents their little darlings had just ripped open. When the girls turned 13, we had a surprise party for them because they were, you know, 13. And that meant that the “goodie bag” needed to be something damn near perfect.
Thirteen-year-olds love music. Ask a teenager what they did for school, and you’ll get that noncommittal grunt that means, “We did something, but hell if I can remember it because I was more concerned with the hormones raging through my body and . . . what was the question?”Ask what they want for dinner, and you’re more than likely to hear the rustling of the chip bag as an answer. But ask them about music, and all bets are off. It’s like you’ve opened the fucking flood gates from hell that are tied to their vocal chords, and you won’t get a word in edgewise for a long, long time. They have opinions on the music that they like and hate, and they are not afraid to let you know why you are wrong. And trust me, you’ll be wrong. I wasn’t even allowed to sing in the fucking car for the longest time because it annoyed one of them (ahem, she’s older by a minute) even though they could sing . . . but let’s get back to the purpose, shall we?
So . . where was I? Ah, yes . . . the surprise party and the goodie bags. I had no clue what to do here. Party? Planned down to the minute with a scavenger hunt around the neighborhood, an Easter egg hunt (their birthday often coincides with Easter), two cakes (because they are twins), and an embarrassment-free movie with friends and family over the past 13 years. But the goodie bags? No fucking clue. Then, in a moment of brilliance (or what passes for it for me), I came up with a CD of songs. I certainly couldn’t ask them to supply me with a list of their favorite song (reread that whole noncommittal grunt bit) without giving away something of the surprise. And asking their friends would put me at risk because they weren’t “their songs.” I nearly gave up and went with a crisp five dollar bill – I’m cheap, too – and then, inspiration in the form of a bottle struck.
As I was consoling myself in another glass of wine because I feel bad for the remaining glasses left in the bottle so I tend to drink the whole thing once I open a bottle up (go ahead and wrap your head around that logic), I read the label and saw that this particular bottle was ranked #1 in this contest and that contest. #1 – I like that. #1 – there are lots of number ones . . . including the hit songs on the day that you are born. And thank god for the Internet and the various data bases that are out there. Type in your birthday and out pops the song that was #1 on your birthday. So, I quickly generated a list of the #1 hits on the girls’ birthday. When they were born, Londonbeat hit it big with “I’ve Been Thinking About You,” and when they turned 13, it was “Yeah!” by Usher featuring Lil John and Ludacris. Finally, I was on to something that was relatively cheap and easy.
I got so into this that I was worried that my family would be pissed that they got the same thing as the 13-year-old guests (yup, I’m that neurotic sometimes), that I created a special “double CD set” for our families with their birthday #1s. Some were lots of fun, like Dave’s and mine (“Sugar, Sugar” by the Archies) or “I Just Want To Be Your Everything” by Andy Gibb, which was top of the charts when my sister, Bridget, was born. Others were downright dreadful like Roberta Flack’s “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” . . . still don’t know what that song is supposed to be saying other than your face over and over and over again.
But with all good plans, something usually goes wrong. I must not have checked the dates that I was inputting very carefully, and I got one of the songs wrong. So, Erika, your birthday #1 wasn’t the classic Elton John hit, “Philadelphia Freedom,” but Diana Ross’s “Love Hangover” . . . ever heard it before? Nope, me neither.
Do me a favor, y’all . . . click on over to the Birthday #1 page and find your number one hit. Then search for it on YouTube or Spotify and play it loud. Revel in your birthday song and let me know what it is. It will give me an excuse to eat some more cupcakes.