Tuesday, June 25, 2019     Volume: 20, Issue: 16

Santa Maria Sun / Humor

The following article was posted on September 9th, 2014, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 15, Issue 27 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 15, Issue 27

Sweet 16

Krider takes a mulligan at a fancy birthday party


When it comes to anything pop culture, current events, or even what the weather might be tomorrow, I usually don’t know a darn thing about it. In the information age, I sort of live in a bubble of zero information. It’s not as if I like being an uninformed person; my ignorance is due to a logistical situation at my house. You see: We don’t have cable TV.


Yes, it’s true; we don’t have cable television at our house.


This is an issue my two children like to remind me of on a daily basis, “Dad, when are we going to get cable?”


“Probably the day after you move out.”


That actually isn’t true. I could give you some baloney parenting mumbo jumbo about protecting my children’s innocent eyes from the evils of corporate television and suggestive advertising, but my reason for not having cable isn’t that political. My excuse is more economical—I’m too cheap to pay $100 a month to watch reruns of Duck Dynasty. But the real reason we don’t have cable is even less impressive. I just never bothered to call and have the cable company hook it up when we bought the house.


That was 15 years ago.


We aren’t cave dwellers. We do own a television set, and it gets a fair amount of use while we watch films on DVD. We just don’t have any version of pay-to-play television at our house, be it cable, satellite, Xfinity, or whatever. If it isn’t coming in on the free antenna still clinging to my chimney, we don’t see it at our house. So what programming does come in on the free antenna? It turns out a fair amount of Spanish television. I try to watch the shows and enhance my foreign language skills. Unfortunately, as good looking as the Spanish actresses are, I only recognize every 10th word. “Hola,” and “No,” I got those down pretty solid.


Because we don’t have cable TV, we don’t have MTV, which means we’ve never seen the show called My Sweet Sixteen. Living in our zero-information bubble, my family and I were not aware of the new craze for teenage-girl birthday parties. Some parents are throwing small wedding receptions for girls to celebrate the fact that they accomplished—what did they accomplish again? Sixteen-year-olds need to be celebrated for living off of their parents, playing video games, and eating fast food for 16 years? How hard is that?


Regardless of my opinion of the My Sweet Sixteen phenomenon, it’s happening, and recently my family was invited to attend a party for the daughter of a friend of ours. We received an invitation to attend the get together, which was scheduled for a warm, summer Saturday evening. Thinking the whole thing would be a backyard barbecue, I dressed up in a pair of shorts, flip-flops and a T-shirt. I asked my wife, whom I love, if I should dress nice for the party and she said, “Nah, you look fine. It’s just a birthday party.”


It wasn’t just a birthday party.


There were seating charts, linens, family members were wearing matching tuxedos, and they had a DJ with a separate emcee.


There were photographers, caterers, people to replace your napkin, centerpieces, decorations, strobe lights, a dance floor, a candy bar, cupcakes, and a head table.


The event had all of that Sweet Sixteen glitz and glamour, and it also had one very, very uninformed and underdressed family: The Kriders. When we walked in the music stopped. People looked at us. People felt sorry for us. We obviously didn’t have cable television.


Trying my best to blend in, I immediately sat down at my assigned table and tried to hide my flip flops and shorts under the table linen. Before we left, I hadn’t even bothered to trim my toenails. Every other family at the table was wearing black and maroon, matching the birthday girl’s dress and party decorations perfectly. My family and I hid as long as we could until they announced our table to go to the buffet for dinner. Then we had to shamefully stand up and show the entire party our legs and display how we were the only people who didn’t get the message that Sweet Sixteen parties are fabulous and obviously, formalwear is required.


My wife and I felt terrible about slumming it up at the party, so we weren’t having much of a good time. We saw our opportunity during the hour-long slideshow (complete with naked-baby-in-the-bathtub pictures choreographed to Miley Cyrus songs), and we took our chance to slip out the back door under the cover of darkness.


The four of us drove home in a funk, feeling stupid and worried that we let our friends down. Our daughter was texting her boyfriend that we went to a Sweet Sixteen party. He asked her what dress she was wearing. Even a 15-year-old boy knew we were supposed to dress up. When we got home I said offhandedly, “It would be funny if we threw on suits and dresses and went back to the party as if nothing ever happened.” I was only kidding, of course. My wife immediately said, “Everyone get dressed in the nicest thing you own. We are leaving in six minutes!”


Five minutes and 59 seconds later we were back on the road, looking dapper in our black formalwear and rolling along, blaring Dean Martin’s Rat Pack classic “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head.” We re-arrived at the party and the music stopped again. The Krider’s were back in black.


We received a warm welcome from our closest friends and danced the night away to the sounds from the excellent DJ. I would say the wardrobe adventure and the party might have been one of the greatest nights we have ever had as a family. A family that dresses poorly together and then gets dressed up together at the last minute stays together.


Rob would like to take this opportunity to publicly apologize for his early pitiful attire and wish Skylar Paige Lopez a happy 16th birthday.

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