Two Swarthy Things

Dear Will:

Tomorrow is my son Seth’s 5th birthday. He has declared that to celebrate this big event we must go to Ruby’s for dinner. Ruby’s is his favorite restaurant for two appropriately 5-year-old reasons: 1) they serve macaroni & cheese; and 2) every kid’s meal comes with a toy. Inasmuch as his other favorite place is McDonald’s, I think Ruby’s is a fine choice.

The real birthday celebration took place last Saturday when Seth and 10 of his pals gathered for the Pirate Party of the Century. As usual, my wife Dana was in charge, which guaranteed two things: 1) the affair would be over-planned, the loot bags overflowing; and 2) the kids would have a deliriously good time. Because of the theme, I had to stop shaving for a week (don’t you love those rare occasions when sloth becomes virtuous?) and sport a do-rag for 3 hours on a Saturday afternoon. We planned to hold the big bash at the Atlantis Play Center in Garden Grove, a public park which includes, among other things, a slide that looks like a dragon and a pretend sailing ship—the perfect place to fire the imaginations of our little buccaneers.

Provided, that is, that it didn’t rain.

Well, as luck would have it, it did rain, which meant two things: 1) anyone going down the dragon slide was going to end up with a wet bum (yes, there were some tears shed over that little blast of reality); and 2) we had the place literally to ourselves. We were able to stay dry for the most part thanks to the protection of a pavilion which was abandoned to our benefit by another group less hearty than ours. Fortunately, the rain was never really heavy, so when we did venture out into the park (for the obligatory treasure hunt, for example) the kids held up pretty well. Considering the disaster that might have been ours had it really poured, we were pretty lucky—smug even that what we ended up with acres of essentially private park.

What fun it was to see the delight in those children. Dana outfitted each one with a pirate hat, a hook (of course), an eye patch, a cutlass, a bandana with the jolly roger, and just for good measure, a stuffed parrot. They even got fake mustaches. Very scary indeed. Had you seen our swarthy crew (at least, I think that they were swarthy—what’s that mean, anyway?) you would have turned over your gold doubloons on the spot, especially had they let loose with a terrifying “Aaaaar!” (which they did, I should mention, with great frequency). Once they were fully decked out, two things were certain: 1) no buried treasure in the park was safe; and 2) most of those fake mustaches would be in the trash before the day was over.

Needless to say, we’re glad it’s over, and pleased to see that Seth was so pleased. I share this with you for two reasons: 1) I thought it was fun to tell about; and 2) because I knew you’d be disappointed if I didn’t end this letter with two reasons.

How are things with you? Drop me a note some time. I’d love to hear from you.

PW

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