What The Dickens? A Tale of Two Parties

Today something happened that you might have had to witness to believe. It was a comedy of errors, one that could have easily have been written by the likes of Shakespeare or Dickens.

“It was the best of times, it was the funniest of times.”

I have mentioned before how my wife works on Saturdays so I am the one who takes the boys to birthday parties when they are held on the first day of the weekend. Remember the day I had three parties to attend? That was a hoot. One of the many Saturdays when I have had more than one party to attend.

Today we were invited to only one party, but I managed to attend two, accidentally gate crashing one in the strangest of circumstances mainly due to me being on autopilot, but the other reason was the strangest of coincidences.

The parties I attend mostly up until now have been the kids in our antenatal class from when my wife was pregnant with our first born. The parents in this group form the bulk of social engagements with three of the dads being in my Wednesday night poker competition at one of the guys’ houses, and many lazy summer afternoons being spent knocking back a few cold ones having a barbecue at one of the other guys’ houses; with the latter gathering being attended by the wives and kids.

So I know these guys well, and I know the wives and kids really well too. In fact I often look after the boys of one of the couples when they go out.

The other parties that I frequently attend on Saturdays without my wife are the ones for the kids in her (second) mother’s group and play group. Although I know the parents fairly well having chatted with each at at least one party of the last four or five years or so (including those we hold for our own kids), I wouldn’t be as close to any of these parents as I am with those from antenatal.

My wife managed to attend two mother’s groups having lied stretched the truth after having our youngest and joining in with a group of mums who all had newborns that were their first child the same age as our youngest. Traditionally, these mother’ groups are for first time mums.

If truth be told, I often forget which group of kids and parents my wife met through mother’s group, and which she met through play group. From her second mother’s group, none of the mother’s attend the play group, and vice versa obviously.

This time last year, one of the mothers from the mother’s group and one of the mother’s from the play group had baby boys within days of each other. No big coincidence. The boys are very handsome young dudes. Again, no big coincidence. The boys were both named Angus.

BOOM. And so the wheels were set in motion.

The invitation to the party that I was supposed to attend said;

Angus (is) turning 1

In my mind I actually had another couple in mind when I pictured Angus’ parents. It was the parents of a third child named Emmett whose mum is in the same group as the mother of Angus whose party were were invited to. So I had right group in mind, but the wrong mum (apologies Jeanette and Amanda).

But here’s where the confusion kicked in. The party was being held at a large urban park/nature reserve in our local area. For the last four or five years I have attended the birthday party of Ella who is one of the girls from play group. Ella’s birthday parties are always held at the same urban park/nature reserve and always at the same area within the park.

The lovely Miss Ella is the older sister of Angus. I knew that. That was something I clearly remembered within the whole scheme of things. But knowing that Ella and her Angus were not part of the mother’s group, I wasn’t expecting to see them at this party today.

The urban park has many areas to book for parties. There are 14 of them with eight named after native birds and the other six named after native plants and trees.

On entry to the park I had in my mind that we were heading to one named after a bird, but I couldn’t remember which one it was. My lack of attention to detail might have played a part in this, but then maybe not. I blame Ella (sorry Kel and Dan). Let me explain…

The party that I was supposed to go to has its car park off to the right, but you need to turn off the loop road that goes throughout the park to get there. It’s by no mean out of the way, you just got to make that turn. This is where autopilot kicked in.

The area where Ella has had her party for the last four or five years is the very next area that you come to, and its car park is located on the loop road itself. I have to be honest, I didn’t know which one I was supposed to be at so I thought I’d drive the loop and be on the lookout. And there she was, dressed up like she always is; Miss Ella.

I don’t want to sound like I’m being creepy here, and I know that her parents will fully understand where I’m coming from (especially her doting father), but she is a gorgeous young girl with fiery red hair that I think makes her stand out from the crowd. Worse still, in this situation; she WAS standing away from the crowd.

“Look at you all dressed up. You are always the stylish dresser” I said as the boys and I crossed the roadway to head to the party area.

“Hello, I’m Ella.”

I laughed. I mentioned this to her mother. I must have met Ella more than two dozen times at various parties including her own, and each time I’m fairly sure she’s introduced herself to me. Possibly the sign of a very confident young lady (kudos to her parents for that), but possibly because she doesn’t recognise me each time (for a man, my hairstyle and the length of my hair tends to change fairly often, so too my beard’s style and length).

My eldest son took the present for Angus over to the gift table before joining me and his little brother at another table where I was talking to another mother whose son is in my son’s class. The only thing was, the present wasn’t for THIS Angus. Awkward.

About an hour into the party, a couple and their two kids turned up. They were looking for Angus’ birthday party. I recognised the mum and one of her kids. She was not looking for this party but the other party.

obi won kenobi

As she walked away someone turned to the group of us sitting there and called out;

“They say they’re looking for a birthday party for Angus, but I don’t know who these people are. Oh, and Darrell, they said that they know you…”

They what? WTF? They know me? Of course they do because I know them. But they’re not part of THIS group.

BOOM

And then the penny dropped. I watched the couple and their kids walk towards the neighbouring picnic area where another party was being held. They stopped there. I guessed they had found the right party. The other party was maybe about 200 metres away, shielded slightly by some trees and the public toilet block.

“Um, I think I’m supposed to be at THAT party. I don’t think I’m supposed to be here…”

I was confused. Here I was sitting at the wrong party. A party that we weren’t invited to. I felt a wave of embarrassment flow over me. I started thinking, well it’s one thing for me to get it wrong, but surely one or both of the parents would have been thinking “what the Hell is Darrell and his boys doing at this party? They weren’t on the invite list, were they?”

My wife told me that she was only working until 12:30pm today so she’d be heading to the party after that if we were still there. Seeing that it started at midday, there was every chance we’d be at the party, only the wrong one. So I sent her a text;

Text Message Wrong Party

Just before I sent that message I asked the father of “the wrong Angus” how do you spell the plural of Angus. I went with Anguses as you would with octopuses even though octopi is acceptable. Somehow Angi didn’t seem to be the right thing to type to get my point across. At the time I sent the message she was finishing up with a client. After that, she called me.

She made her way to the party parties straight from work. By this time I had made my way from the wrong party to the correct party explaining the error I made to the parents of “the right Angus.” I also had to repeat the story to a few other parents including the couple who almost attended the party of “the wrong Angus.”

Seeing that my eldest felt more comfortable being at the original party playing with his classmate who was attending that one, I balanced my time between catching up with a couple of the dads I normally talk to when that group gets together, and kicking the ball around with my son and his friend at the other party.

But what are the chances of this? It was nothing more than an honest mistake on my behalf. An error that could befoul anyone; but of course, as fate would have it, it HAD to happen to me. Why?

It’s simple. I’ll leave it to the words of parents at both parties…

“That’s a story you must put on your blog.”

And I have.

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