The other side of yesterday’s story or, today’s dose of chills

July 27, 2010

Why I’m glad my friend Zac is leaving New York, and you should be too

July 27, 2010

The husband litmus test

July 27, 2010
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Time to come clean about something I think will prove wildly helpful regarding the pursuit of correct life partners.

…that or forever confirm that I’m a total nut case. I’m willing to take the risk.

There is a universal standard by which I uphold all men who reach the point of wow-I-like-this-guy in my head.

Not like – has a solid 401K (I’m not a hypocrite), can fix basic plumbing (this isn’t the 60s), or is willing to go vintage clothes shopping with me (that ship has sailed).

As in, once a given guy reaches my we’ve-got-a-contender stage (whoollee other story) he’s judged against my perception of his abilities in a very specific circumstance. A hypothetical circumstance, but of the realistic not McGrubber variety. A sort of maybe-boyfriend slash husband litmus test.

It’s the planning and execution of our future child’s 5th birthday party.

(Yeah. You’re right. This is the post that’s going to keep me single for the rest of my life…)

See I love parties – parties of all kinds. It stems from a love of general entertaining that I’m sure has something to do with minor OCD of the organizational variety mixed with a real thing for both food and appropriate soundtracks for a given occasion (the creation of which cannot be underestimated).

My parents are entertainers. Their parents were entertainers. And as such we had some killer birthday parties growing up. They generally revolved around a theme dictated by the birth month of our year. Dani (December 2nd) had a number of holiday themed parties, one Nutcracker Ballet event and a few fetes involving ice skating. My situation (August 7th) usually revolved around a beach, pool, sprinkler or, from ’89-’94, full-backyard-sized parachute (there were songs involving games involving prizes, involving sparkles).
Ergo -I very much appreciate a good party. They’re fun. They’re meaningful. And now I’m going to stop justifying this situation because we’re talking about parties here, and when I hear a person say, “I really hate parties” or “I’m not really into celebrating my birthday” I think – “well then you’ve clearly never done it correctly.” Fine.
Now as I grew older and shifted from playing-and-posing in a brand new dress to planning-and-posing in a brand new dress, I started to notice the significance of exceptional party planning and execution skills relative to the overall value of a person.
They say good clothes open all doors (which they do) and that you can tell a lot about a man by the relationship he has with his mother (which you can). I’m saying you can most accurately determine how a man will be in all aspects of life by the manner in which he would handle the planning and execution of his child’s 5th birthday party – boy or girl. And to clarify – I’m using “how a man will be” here to represent a number of things: how he will behave around children, how he will handle the in laws, how he will compromise on major life decisions, the skill with which he will grill hot dogs and hamburgers. The stuff of life.
How will he scold the two kids he finds kissing in the Playschool pink cottage? Will he video tape the opening of the gifts with an eye-roll or a tripod? When my parents arrive with fifteen gifts and a second cake they got from the Italian bakery will he give me the look of death or a loving squeeze? These are the questions of a life together…
Why a kid’s birthday party? you ask. Why not Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas brunch or an Easter egg hunt? Aren’t they equally significant and perhaps more tedious? Yes, but no. See, the crucial difference between an given national or religious holiday and the celebration of a child’s birth is the child. Thanksgiving dinner is the same every year. Buy a turkey, cook a turkey, carve a turkey, nap. You could argue the same for any other holiday. There are traditional foods, traditional acts, and the traditional clean up that any couple will fight over regardless of how amazing the guy (or girl) is.
With a kid’s birthday party there is a client – and that client – in the case of my all-telling hypothetical – is a 5-year-old. It has to be original. It has to be appropriate. It has to consider proper safety for school-aged children. It can’t be too expensive (can’t spoil the kid) or too impractical (this is a child we’re talking about), and it must allow for a close-if-not-equal amount of enjoyment for the parents required to attend (without the inclusion of alcohol). The options are endless. The potential issues, even greater. And yet success holds a value more significant than the two combined.
Everyone remembers the most fun birthday parties they went to as a child. What they don’t remember is the stress and frustration it put that kids parents through. Unless, and here’s where my litmus test comes in – the parents of said kid were so compatible in the party-planning personality arenas that this event took nothing but a few to-do lists and a lot of love. They’re a team! A TLC reality show! She’s high-fiving him at the grill (a passing him a Solo cup with a special surprise). He’s popping her a kiss on the forehead (as he hands her a giant garbage bag for insta clean-up of the gift wrappings). And then, when it’s all said and done and gossiped about they celebrate with the greatest kind of sex there is.
We-threw-an-awesome-5th-birthday-party-for-Olivia sex (or whatever your first kid is named).
So, verdict? Nut-case? Or genius?…


  1. Genius!!! It’s the un-thought of events that are going to come up in life that show you who a person really is. And while anyone can “say” how they would act, watching them act it out is a-whole-nother story. I reckon you need to get your potential man to plan a similar event with you to test the waters. 🙂

  2. I think a better test would be something that you weren’t so emotionally invested in. You have to take into account your expectations; is there a right way to throw this party in your eyes? Would you be able to let your future husband plan the party or do you have such strong feelings about it that you’d control the entire event?

  3. party planning/throwing skills are essential in both mates.

    great post …. until you got to the end where you want to have sex with your husband in honor of your 5 yr old. ewwwwww

    i know that wasn’t the intent but calling it – for olivia sex…. ewwwww.

  4. I think it’s genius! I’d love to know how you actually get a boyfriend to talk about planning said birthday party…without him running for the hills.

  5. This is definite one of the most unique “tests” I’ve ever heard of – but as a fellow planner and party-lover, it totally makes sense! And I LOVE this post and your train of thought while writing!

    Now, the extra credit/deal breaker portion of this test is whether future husband wants to hire a clown as entertainment. If so, I say, cancel the wedding.

  6. My birthday parties growing up were always a lot of fun, but I grew somewhat aware of the work that went into them and the stress the planning caused my parents.

    Planning a party, especially a party for a bunch of kids, is always going to be a lot of hard work, but it’s the results that make it worth the while. When everyone is running around and having fun it’s worth it.

  7. Wow! This post totally blew my mind! I mean honestly, it’s a great “test” but one that I don’t think you would know for sure until after you’re already married and have that adorable Olivia. Really truly though, excellent points and I have to say I may just add this to my mental list for qualified suitors. LOL.

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