A Tale of Two Birthdays
by Mike Scopa
AllEars® Feature Writer
This article appeared in the September 21, 2010 Issue #574 of ALL EARS® (ISSN: 1533-0753)
I am not the best at picking out the perfect birthday gift, so you can imagine the frustration a few weeks back when I received invitations to two birthday parties, one for a 5-year-old and the other for a 6-year-old, both on the same day. I ended up getting two of the same gift and when you think about it, how different is a 6-year-old from a 5-year-old?
The two parties were held this past weekend and luckily they were held several hours apart, allowing me the opportunity to spend a significant amount of time at each party.
The first birthday party, for the 5-year-old, was to start at 1 p.m. So around 12:30 or so I placed the two gifts in my car and drove over to this first party. When I arrived I was astonished at what I saw. While turning onto the street I noticed a huge line that had formed... a line of folks all heading to the party. I had no idea as to just how popular this 5-year-old was. We are talking REAL POPULAR. I found myself waiting at least a full hour in line before I could give my birthday wishes and my gift to this popular 5-year-old.
Although I had to wait in line there were some games to play while I waited and, in fact, these were designed as group games with everyone taking part in these games. It made for a lot of fun and helped pass the time away. I noticed that even though there were a lot of people like myself waiting for an hour, we didn't mind because of so many things, most of all because I felt that we all really liked this 5-year-old and were happy to be here to celebrate five wonderful years. While in line I met some wonderful people and we talked a lot about how this 5-year-old has brought us smiles and many magical moments. Most everyone in line had made their acquaintance with this 5-year-old from the beginning and we all shared the same feeling...it's been a wonderful five years.
Everyone kept saying that it was always a thrill to see this 5-year-old and how we never got tired of coming back to visit time and time again. It was uncanny how everyone said that even though they would leave with a smile on their face after every visit, they still felt a little sadness, not knowing how long it would be before returning for a future visit. Anyway, the conversations I had with everyone in line brought back memories of my previous visits and those memories brought a smile to my face. I remember being invigorated with every visit and how everything, including my spirits, was "lifted" with every visit.
Well, the line moved a lot quicker than I though and before I knew it I was ready to hand over my gift. "Happy Birthday, Soarin!" I exclaimed as I saw my favorite 5-year-old. "Gee thanks, Mike!" Soarin' said. "I hope you didn't have to wait too long!" I remarked, "It really did not seem that bad. I enjoyed the games and frankly, you're worth it." This 5-year-old has so many friends and all of them were smiling, laughing, and so happy to be there.
Unfortunately, as it always happens, good times go too fast and time flew that day, so I soon had to say goodbye and head over to the second party of the day. I made my way over to say goodbye. "Soarin', I gotta go, but I just wanted to say Happy Birthday again and tell you how much I am looking forward to seeing you soon." "Thanks for coming, Mike! I'll be waiting and looking forward to seeing you again, too! We'll have fun! Bye!"
As I made my way from the party I could not help but notice that the line had not shortened at all. It still looked like each arriving guest was faced with an hour wait... still no frowns or sad faces, only smiles and laughter. It's always tough to leave a party that finds everyone having so much fun, but on this particular day my dance card had me down for two parties and it was time for me to go. As I drove away I could not help asking myself, "Gee, when am I going to get a chance to come back here again?" I started to go over in my mind what my calendar was for the next several months, trying to pinpoint an opportunity to return.
It took about 45 minutes to drive from the 5-year-old's birthday party to the 6-year-old's party. Unlike at the first party, I had very little trouble finding a parking space. In fact, I was able to park so close to the party I didn't have far to walk at all. There basically was no line to speak of and so I walked right in. Don't get me wrong. There was a line, but the contrast between the two lines was very striking. This line did not have games to keep me occupied. In fact, before getting to the actual party, I was treated to a video and a live performance of sorts in two rooms.
The first room had a video that was not that interesting. In fact it confused me a bit. It was OK, but it did not make me laugh and had a tough time keeping my attention. As I was watching this video I kept thinking of how much fun I had playing those games while waiting in line at the previous party. The line moved rather quickly and I soon found myself in the second room. There was not much going on in this room and a few people seemed kind of bored. A few children were asking questions, as they did not understand what was going on in the room. I remained very patient and waited calmly before I could deliver my gift. To be honest, I almost fell asleep waiting to do so.
I finally got to the "party room" and the 6-year-old was sitting in the middle of the room. The room was arranged a bit strangely, as the chairs formed a circle around the 6-year-old. I found it odd that the 6-year-old looked nothing like most photos I had seen. It also seemed odd to me that some of the guests who were there did not seem to be enjoying themselves. Wasn't this a birthday party? Wasn't this to celebrate six years of... well, six years? I noticed practically everyone seemed either puzzled or perturbed about the whole thing. On top of that some children were sobbing or actually crying.
I made it up to the star of this party, handed over my gift, and said, "Happy Birthday!" That was kind of received with a funny look. "Oh, yeah!" the 6-year-old said. "Thanks!" That was followed by a burp and an unbelievably strong odor that smelled like a taco.
"How's the party going?" I asked. "It's OK I guess," was the reply I got. "Why aren't you smiling?" I asked. "It is your birthday!" "I know. It's just that I can't seem to please everyone. And some people come to see me and get upset, and most people never come back to see me again (sigh)!"
I felt badly for this 6-year-old and tried a little cheer. "Well, you can't please everyone. I know you've tried some different things to make everyone happy... just keep your head up."
The 6-year-old looked up at me and with a sad look said, "I know. I'm at my wits' end though, and to tell you the truth..." (looking around and then whispering) "... I really don't know how I lasted this long. Who knows what tomorrow may bring!" I thought to myself, "You may be right!" but of course did not say that out loud. "Well, you never know!" I said, "I look at the landscape of today and always wonder if tomorrow will bring change. That's what makes life so interesting." Those words did not help, but at least I tried.
I looked at my watch and, since I really wasn't enjoying myself and had a sense that my words were falling on deaf ears, I made an excuse to leave. "Well, I would love to stay and help you celebrate your sixth birthday, but I really need to go!" I announced. "That's OK, I understand!" said the 6-year-old. I felt real bad but, honestly, I wasn't having any fun. I said goodbye and as I was about to walk out the door the 6-year-old yelled out, "Will you come back to see me?" I'm not one to lie, but also not one to hurt feelings, so I said; "Well, you never know when I may pop in!" and I flew out the door.
I wondered if the previous party I had gone to was still going on. I called and Soarin' answered. "Hey, are things still going on over there?" "Oh boy!" I hear over the phone. "C'mon back and help us have some fun!" So I hung up and rushed to my car.
Just as I got into the car I noticed a family coming toward me. They were carrying a gift and checking each house with a puzzled look on their faces. "Can I help you?" I asked. "Yes, we were invited to a party and..." "Oh yes, it's the place over there!" I gestured. "Thank you!" they said and walked toward where I had pointed.
Then I thought I better be sure I had steered them right. "Uhhh... what party was that?" I yelled out. One of the children turned around and said, "Stitch's Great Escape!" "Yup, that's it!" I said and I sped away.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mike Scopa has been a huge Disney fan for as long as he can remember. He first visited Walt Disney World in 1975 and has returned many times (how many? he's lost count!) since. Mike is a contributor to the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World and Cara Goldsbury's Luxury Guide to Walt Disney World, and has served as keynote speaker for MagicMeets. He is also co-host of the WDWTODAY Podcast and writes a
regular blog, The View from Scopa Towers, for AllEars.Net:
In addition, Mike is co-captain of Team AllEars® -- the AllEars.Net Running Team that will participate in the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend in 2011.
Editor's Note: This story/information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all current rates, information and other details before planning your trip.