Cowboys, Ninjas, and Pirates
I have something of a history for creative birthday parties. For my 25th birthday, I hosted a toga party. To my surprise, everyone showed up in a toga. For my 26th birthday, I insisted that everyone wear formal attire. Again to my surprise, everyone showed up in suits and dresses. My 30th birthday was a surprise bowling party at the inimitable Columbus Bowling Palace. For my 35th birthday, I originally decided to make the theme "Pirates and Ninjas" because, lets face it, everyone loves pirates and ninjas. It was suggested to me that the scope be broadened to include cowboys, to which my response was Pirates and Ninjas agree: Cowboys suck. After some thought, though, I decided to include cowboys in the theme, in order to allow folks to be as creative as they could.
I had originally intended to dress as a robot for my party, and had prepared a number of witty rejoinders about it being my party and I'll wear whatever damn costume I want, thankyouverymuch. But a weekend trip to Houston, Texas afforded me the opportunity to buy some authentic cowboy stuff -- most notably cowboy hats! -- so I switched gears and prepared a cowboy costume, with help from Angela who was working on a cowgirl outfit for herself.
I really didn't expect anyone else to show up in costume. Indeed, Rich and Maria were the first to show up, and arrive in plain clothes (though with only modest effort they pulled off a passable cowboy and pirate, respectively). Jeff and Lisa showed up next, also in plain clothes. They informed me that they were media pirates, illegally downloading movies and music. Fair enough: they got creative with the interpretation of the party theme, which I can respect.
As folks continued to trickle in, though, more and more people came in really creative costumes. There were way more cowboys than I would have expected, but I guess putting together a cowboy costume is easier than a pirate or ninja costume. Nonetheless, we had at least four ninjas and at least as many pirates!
I worked the grill, and with the large assortment of side dishes that folks brought there was plenty of delicious food to enjoy. I had my second batch of homebrew out for people to enjoy, and everyone was enthusiastic about it. (If I do say so myself, it was a superb beer!) Many folks stayed late, enjoying conversation and eventually songs around the fire. The yard was full of laughter most of the evening, and it was a real treat for me to wander in and out of conversations.
Mike gets the award for worst pun of the night when he said "I've said too mulch!"
Andy, who gets my vote for the best cowboy costume of the night, handed me an envelope when he arrived. On the envelope he had written "The Best Birthday Gift Ever!" I waited a little while to open this. When I did, inside I found a single sheet of paper, which read, simply, "My friendship". I was speechless for a moment, as that was, indeed, the greatest birthday gift ever. And it wasn't just Andy's friendship. It was everyone's.
I am amazed that my friends would put on silly costumes in the middle of June to hang out in my back yard. It is a gift beyond words that I have the friends that I do. I only hope that I can be as good of a friend to each of them as they have been to me.
If you didn't get the chance to join us, you can view my photos, or Maria's photos of the party. There's also a video floating around of Jeff singing Happy Birthday to me that really needs to be seen by more people...