Rules of a Russian Birthday Party (so far):


  • No Disposable Cutlery.

    In spite of the (really cute and quite respectable-looking) plastic cutlery I bought (for my own damn birthday party), I’ve been told, quite forcefully that it’s tacky. And that it will bring shame upon our family. Apparently, it is a far better thing to have a crap ton of dish washing to do (on top of a likely hangover) than to use shameful disposables.

  • No Cupcakes.

    These, too, bring shame upon our family. It is absolutely vital that we have a thick, pretentious, multi-layer cake with apricot crème and layers soaked in rum with some sort of decorative glaze. Cupcakes are cheap, I am told. No one will eat them and I will end up eating them by myself and crying for weeks after. I hate rum. Or at least, I hate cake soaked in it. I prefer to drink my alcohol, thank you very much. Why can’t cake just be cake?

    Apparently, cupcakes are the devil. I didn’t tell her that I’d already bought really cute cupcake toppers.

    She said that since I didn’t like the cake she’d picked out, she wouldn’t get it. That I can pick whatever cake I want (so long as it is from a fancy-ass Russian bakery) and she’ll get that one. Here’s the thing – I don’t want a fancy-ass Russian cake. I don’t want something with five different layers and two different kinds of cake inside and two different kinds of cream with a weird fruity-gelatinous glaze on top.

    Why can’t I just have a cake? Why is that so much to ask for?

  • Said parties are not to be held anywhere other than a Fancy Russian Restaurant.

    The one exception to this rule is, apparently, brunch. It is acceptable to have a birthday party at a fancy brunch place, usually attached to a nice hotel, if one wishes. Otherwise, no exceptions. You must have your party at a Fancy Russian Restaurant, where you will have no one to talk to, and you will feel horribly awkward the whole time. This may be because you are an extremely awkward person (as I am), but that’s a different conversation altogether.

    You will sit on uncomfortable chairs, in a small place setting, uncomfortably squished between the few relatives you can actually hold a conversation with. You will eat course after course of (admittedly good) Russian food, half-cringing and trying to pretend that you don’t exist, Harry-Potter-style, because you don’t want some horrible aunt or other to come over and drill you about your boyfriend-less, job-less, loser life.

    Then the music will come on. It will be awful Russian music. Either seventies-era Russian pop music that sounds like it should be on Dance Dance Revolution, or strange covers of American pop songs inevitably sung by the restaurant’s creepy bald proprietor. You will watch the old(er) people gravitate to the dance floor and dance happily (in this case, shuffling feet side to side qualifies as dancing) to the horrible music.

    You will sit there wishing you’d brought a book. Or if, in fact, you did bring a book, as I usually do, you’ll wish you could pull it out without looking weird.

  • No Party Games.

    Apparently these are beneath the dignity of elderly Russian folk and they cannot be expected to lower themselves to such childish silliness.

    (I’m going to the half-price bookstore to pick up some games tomorrow)

  • No Theme Parties.

    Ditto. Apparently, it is simply too large an imposition to put one one’s guests to ask them to dress up. How dare I?

    (My party’s masquerade/Harry Potter themed. It’s going to be awesome… I think)

  • No Pizza. Or food from any ‘non-acceptable’ establishment.

    I suggested, early on in this process, that perhaps we should consider catering from Naf Naf, since I really like their food…. The heat of my mother’s angry gaze would’ve melted frozen tundra.

You would think she would at least somewhat understand by now. I don’t want a stuffy, boring, formal Russian party. I don’t want to shuffle my feet side-to-side to awful music in a dark ‘dancing area’ while the proprietor of the restaurant looks on creepily. I don’t want a fancy fruit-jelly-and-cream cake. I don’t want stuffy, boring food or stuffy, boring people.

I want a fun, bright, whimsical party. I want to have fun. I want to dance and look silly and get sweaty and eat junk food and talk and laugh. I want to get drunk and stay up way too late and end up partying on the stone patio outside of the clubhouse. I want to stay up into the wee hours of the night, talking and drinking with my friends, until the conversation gets silly and serious and things seem to mean nothing and everything all at once.

I want fun. And light. And happiness.

I guess I want from my party the same thing I want from life. And maybe it’s too much to ask for. But maybe it isn’t.


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