Today, Ironman met his maker, and she was wielding an axe handle.
The party went off, on schedule. Ironman went off…slightly ahead of schedule. And Gbot went off…slightly off-schedule, too.
T – 4 Hours (5:30 a.m.): Applied the last coat of paint to Ironman’s neck because I’d reengineered it the night before.
T – 3 Hours: Fed weebots.
T – 2 Hours: Vacuumed. Began yelling occasionally at weebots for undoing party preparations.
T – 90 minutes: Blew up helium balloons. Mbot kept leaping across the sofa cushions and coffee table trying to reach the ribbons–I kept telling him not to, unless he wanted to spend the day at the Emergency Center instead of a birthday party. “But I need that one! And that one!” he kept gasping, completely ignoring my increasingly irritated orders to get down, until he’d finally gathered them all and stood in the middle of the rug clutching the strings to the cloud of balloons over his head, and asked, “But why am I not flying?”
T – 45 minutes: I was running interference between Gbot and the marshmallows when Mbot sprinted to the bathroom. Before I could race in, Mbot raced out, “naked butt,” leaped onto the sofa, and slid down the white pillow and onto the upholstery. Now all three–child, pillow, and sofa–bore what seems to be the sign of our clan: a giant skid mark. One went in the washer, one was scrubbed with Nature’s Miracle, one was scrubbed with wipies and pulled into superhero underpants.
T – 0 minutes: Riiing! The doorbell. Party time.
Until about 10 a.m., guests were greeted by a naked sofa cushion and pillow and an open laundry room door. I often feel that my job on Earth is to make everyone else feel better about the quality of the jobs they are doing. But I think the lesson here is the importance of having polite, kind, tolerant friends with senses of humor. The birthday of a four year-old is nothing if not a celebration of the (mostly delightfully) unpredictable.
There were ten weebots all told, ranging in age from 2 1/2 to 7; eleven adults including two three dads; a baby, and Ironman. I’m still trying to figure out if his candy-ass self counts. Now, two days post-party, it would seem that he is still with us: There is no killing Ironman. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
It was a fun party. A party is kind of like making pottery–after you painstakingly form a bowl and apply glaze exactly as you’d like, then it’s time to place it in the kiln You hope to hell you kneaded out all the air bubbles so it won’t explode. Then you crank up the heat and wait. That’s the point, when you turn the temp up to 1200 degrees Fahrenheit, that you relinquish control and let the universe do what it will.
Mbot immediately started a new tradition of opening gifts as they arrived. Which turned out to be the best innovation in birthday parties since the modern birthday party was invented by some masochistic mother (or by Mattel?). It works because everyone’s arrival is staggered. Mbot rips open the present, ogles it, plays with it, thanks the guest for it, and then another arrives. True, it’s hard to keep track, but I made sure to ask before everyone went home, so the thank you cards have at least a chance of being accurate. But this method also avoids the awkward, boring King-Chair-and-Minion Syndrome where antsy, sugar-filled weebots squirm while endless gifts are ripped open and possibly not oohed and ahed over as much as etiquette might demand by another antsy, sugar-filled weebot. And everyone can play with the new toys at the party! Mbot will be receiving the 2012 Nobel Common Sense Prize for that.
T + 1 Hour: The bots gathered around Ironman. Gbot approached and whacked him with his fist–something he’s been wanting to do for days (haven’t we all). And then: I’m a little embarrassed to admit it, but I’m afraid Ironman suffered from premature ecrackulation.
I had purposely engineered the joints to be weak, because the limbs were pretty indestructible, but I underestimated the force of peanuts and gravity. His right calf split, the foot and ankle dropping to the ground. Peanuts, candy, and plastic littered the grass.
But everyone took a turn with the axe handle, and Ironman came apart limb by limb. At one or two points, he broke free from the hanger sticking out of the back of his neck, and Husbot hung him back up in a noose.
I got the honorary last wallop, and separated head from body. It was cathartic. We scooped up the loot before the ants could get it. I’m sure most of it went into the trash, but that, unfortunately, is the way with pinatas. I mean, seeing as Robert Downey, Jr., failed to leap out of it, and as he also forgot to send his box office proceeds from The Avengers.
T + 2.5 Hours (Noon): The last guest retreated out the door past Ironman’s corpse. I dunked both bots in the tub and took a seat on the bathroom stool, happy to be sitting. Happy to have the weight of Ironman off my shoulders. Feeling like I’d just taken my last final or finished my thesis. Maybe that’s why I had the sudden, strong urge to take a bath. It had been just over a year that I’d soaked in the tub, while in the final stages of my MFA thesis. I checked to see if the eucalyptus oil was still up in the medicine cabinet. It was. I decided that when the bots were out of the bath, I’d hand them over to Husbot and take one myself. I could picture the scene: lit candle, silence, hot tub, the smell of eucalyptus. Me, doing nothing.
And that’s when it happened. Gbot stood up, and…pooped. In the tub. Something he hasn’t done for months and months. My fantasy evaporated, to be replaced by fast action and the smell of bleach.
I did finally get my bath, I just hadn’t planned to work quite so hard to get it.
T + 5 Hours: The weebots fell asleep. That evening, I took them to Grandma’s for dinner. Husbot begged off, too tired from the day’s events. (Parties wear him out faster than they wear me out.) Standing at the curb as we pulled away, he lifted and waved good-bye with one of Ironman’s disembodied arms.
When we arrived back home at close to 9 p.m., Husbot had one more birthday present. He instructed me to take Mbot into his bedroom and to take eight seconds to do it.
We followed the instructions, to find Ironman’s disembodied head on Mbot’s pillow. A voice was emanating from it: “Captain Mbot, Captain Mbot, come in, come in. I’ve been attacked by a group of midgets with sticks. My body parts are outside. Please help me.” Mbot broke into a grin and fished inside the head to bring out a new walkie talkie.
Happy birthday, Mbot
Happy re-birthday, Ironman.
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