Saturday, January 21, 2006

Getting Over the Humps

We attended our first HLC (Holy Land Central) kiddy birthday party yesterday: 30+ little ones from Raphael's kindergarten and a dozen assorted parents packed into an extremely modest-sized, Tel Aviv apartment noshing on bourekas, cut up veggies, hard boiled eggs and pita bread with hummus/chocolate spread.

Entertainment was an aging puppeteer doubling as magician who, I swear, is the flesh and blood embodiment of Krusty the Clown without the floppy shoes and white gloves. I nearly followed the guy outside after the performance to see if he'd take a swig from a breast pocket flask while lighting up. His dusty puppet & magic shows were in dire need of updating as was his music collection - I Need a Hero & The Macarena? Dude! They went out with bad toupes and oversized, Liz Taylor sunglasses.

But the kids seemed to have a good time dancing train-style as did the grandmothers, instructed to put hands over their tzitzeem while leading the Macarena.

I, however, in keeping with this week's theme of feeling out of sorts in HLC, experienced a renewed surge of yuck.

I can't really put my finger on what exactly had me squirming. Perhaps the lack of luster I'm accustomed to back in the U.S. of A. Call me spoiled. I got used to the standard cavernous, rented spaces with outdoor and indoor areas for running and playing, a catered spread fine tuned to both discerning adult palates and more simple, mini-pizza/pasta salad/mini-hot dog kid preferences, razzle-dazzle clown acts with balloons twisted into custom-shaped Jaguars for boys and Spanish speaking Bratz Dolls for girls, rented jumping castles for more energy expenditure and specialty cakes baked by gourmet patisseries running well over $100 for a double layer, sheet serving 20-25. And all of the above elements, I swear, were packed into a single, 2-year-old's party back in San Fran. Imagine how the stakes raise each year.

NOW, I'm not saying that the glitz and glamour is BETTER than yesterday's modest gathering. And in fact, the hype backed by shallow substance was one of the U.S.-isms I held in disdain.

But...Well...I simply need to get used to the way it's done over here. Because the kids doing the chicken dance looked just as happy as the ones eating gourmet cake. It's my mind that races and panics and starts to play Better and Worse games. I will continue breathing into it.

Over and out for now.


Imshin said...

You wait.

I've been to parties in Tel Aviv with jumping castles, Bedouin tents, boat trips on the Yarkon, cooking workshops, darbooka workshops, fun with chocolate, exotic animals, you name it. There are some really expensive clowns/magicians/balloon sculptors, etc... doing children's birthdays,as well.

I was an expert at finding party entertainers at one time. The best was definitely a really cool witch called Zroobavella we once met in the street at Purim and immediately booked for our next birthday (some of the smaller kids were scared of her at first, she was so realistic).

I think the trick is to catch them when they're young and fresh, the entertainers, that is. Once they've been in the business too long they get stale. They all end up as Krusty eventually, unless they're just paying their way through Law School or something.

Stephanie said...

I realize that I'm drawing conclusions based upon a single experience which is highly unfair but fits quite nicely with my drama queen tendencies...Thanks. If you get an invite to one of the parties you mentioned (or throw one), don't forget your pal Stef...What was your name again? SLF