By Mark Vasto
|Oh, grow up.|
When you were a kid, aside from not getting enough cake, the worst thing that could happen to you at a birthday party was to be kicked out of the game.
According to my mother, my toddler player’s profile shows that I led the league in penalty minutes.
“Oh, we used to dread taking you to parties,” she says often, but particularly during family gatherings.
“You never wanted to leave. We’d take you to the amusement park and you’d be so cute until it was time to go. You threw such a fit your father had to hold you in the air because you were kicking and screaming so hard. People would look at us, thinking ‘what are they doing to that kid?’”
And what about the birthday party games?
“Forget it. You never played nice.”
My parents would negotiate with me. “Ok…this is the last ride,” they’d say, promising me a cookie if I was amenable to their demands. But all the partially hydrogenated palm oil in the world couldn’t pry me off the spinning teacups.
When it was my birthday, I distinctly remember trying my own negotiating tactics.
“Mom…because it’s my birthday, I get to stay in the game even if I lose, right?”
Like any parent subjected to a withering barrage of nonsensical questions, she said something along the lines of “yeah…whatever” but I intended to take that to the bank. So, naturally, when my number was punched during “Simon Says” at said birthday party, I called in my pre-approved “stay in the game, right?” card.
Forget cards...one look from my mom and I could see there was no dice.
So, yeah, I cried a little. Well…actually, according to one of the more extensive photo shoots my parents conducted during my formative years, I cried a lot. However, after years of therapy I can finally say to myself -- with conviction -- that losing the game was not what bothered me the most.
No, what bugged me was how this guy Simon apparently had his hooks into my mother and, by extension, the rest of the kids at my party. I wasn’t weeping over losing the game or not getting enough cake. I was upset because I couldn’t stand to see the people I loved just drop everything and become willing surrogates for this guy Simon just because he said so. Simon apparently wielded enough power to command us from afar and his tyranny meant we had to touch our head, shoulders, knees and toes at his whim.
Decades later, I am watching the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils square off in the Eastern Conference Finals as my own young son tries to negotiate for cookies. He tries to block my view of the screen at one point and I smile because I’m a sucker for nostalgia and I can’t help but laugh and think:
Remember when Sean Avery was in the NHL?
(c) King Features Syndicate, 2012