A First Birthday Surprise

David and I were getting ready one afternoon to attend the first birthday party for our neighbor’s daughter.  She was born only a few weeks before ours, so we were eager not only to celebrate their child’s milestone but also, vicariously, our own.  We were also taking notes to help us plan our own bash for our son.

We were running a bit late as usual, but we sure wanted to get there before the scheduled arrival of the “Special Celebrity Guests.”  They were characters from a popular TV show geared towards very young children, so I knew that Joshua would be excited to meet them.

As I was changing his diaper one last time, I happen to glance outside our front window.  A beat-up car was puffing down our quiet cul-de-sac.  It was an ancient model like a Datsun B210, which my older sister used to drive in high school.  In fact, I bet it was the exact same car except that one of the windows was completely covered (or replaced) by duct tape, and each panel of the automobile was in various stages of a paint job.  This car  parked, of all places, right in front of our home.

I realize that in many parts of the world, a sight of such a beat-up car wouldn’t cause any alarm, but not here in my suburban paradise.  Our city is clean and pristine, and you never see cars held together by duct tape.  I raised my eyebrow as my mama bear instincts took over.

Two shady characters climbed out of the car — both from the passenger side, as the driver’s door was permanently shut.  The platinum blonde twentysomething girl shared the last drag of a cigarette with the young man with the shaved head who then squished the butt with his Doc Martens.

I called upstairs for David.

It was a warmish day for February, but I was still surprised at their skimpy attire which clearly revealed their generous body art.  I was therefore somewhat relieved when they popped open their trunk and pulled out some bright-colored attire.  The girl stepped into a yellow colored suit, and the guy into the purple one.  They zipped each other up to their necks.

Before I could realize what was going on, they then grabbed two round things out of the trunk and pulled them over their heads.  That’s when it finally dawned on me:

Oh my goodness.  They are the Special Celebrity Guests!

After checking each other one last time, they walked up to our neighbor’s house and rang the doorbell.

I yelled for David to hurry down.  I finished dressing my baby, grabbed my bag, and we ran down the street to the party.  “Honey, we’ve got to warn them!  Children, avert your eyes!”

Too late.  By the time we arrived, the two TV characters were happily mingling with the little guests and their parents while their theme song played.  Like characters at Disneyland, they only gesticulated without verbalizing.  Androgynous characters anyway, no one could tell who was inside those innocent-looking costumes.  Only a couple of children ran off crying, instinctively sensing danger. If the parents only knew.

The Special Guests then popped a CD in the stereo and proceeded with their show.  They hopped and moved just like they do on the TV screen.  The parents coaxed their children to sing along.  They were surprisingly entertaining, and, for a moment, even I forgot what was inside those costumes.

After they finished, they collected their check from our neighbor and left.  I peeked out their window to watch the pair as they returned to their junk mobile.  They emerged from their costumes, shared another cigarette, climbed  back into the car from one side, and drove off, most likely to their next party gig.

I never did tell my neighbor what I witnessed that day before their sweet daughter’s party.

And I have been searching for a lesson in this whole thing ever since.

Don’t judge a book by its cover?

Beauty is only skin deep?

Material for my blog someday?

Parents, beware before booking entertainment for your kid’s party?

All of the above.

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