Monday, April 10, 2006

Little Windows--The Birthday Party

When I was growing up (the 70's mainly), my family took Super 8 movies. Laughable compared to now. Films were silent, lasted about five minutes, and had to be shown on a projector. A while back, I transferred our old Super 8's onto VHS and dubbed in 70's music. Now I'm moving those to DVD.

They're an odd record of the past. More vibrant than photos, but still distant and imperfect. I thought it might be fun now and again to share some of these "little windows" into my past.

The Birthday Party
I was six years old. I didn't want a birthday party.

My parents threw one anyway. Friends came. Cousins. Aunts. Grandparents. Neighbors. You name it. I remember shrinking from the attention. I remember hoping it would end.

Then, came the cake. Time to cut. Time to sing. The kids waited, but I wouldn't come over.

"Hey, where is he?"

Um, standing over there in the corner.

My grandfather tried to pull me over. Not pretty. My mother decided to bring the cake to me. Cornered me with it.

It could've gone rather badly. Have you ever seen cake combat? Thankfully, it didn't hit the floor.

I never had a true birthday party again. And I'm glad.

(Fascinating to see your personality develop on film. I easily form close rapports one-on-one or in small groups. The attention of crowds, however, I find forced and fake, almost aggressive. I stand before crowds now by playing a role: lawyer, lecturer, etc. Standing up only as myself, however, would still be struggle.)


mermaid said...

It's neat to look at your beginnings and see a side of you that's hidden underneath the cyberspace screen and talented writing.

Shy, huh. Doesn't surprise me. Now that you command our attention, know that these eyes reading your words try to see you, and not the occasion.

Is your B-day in April? It's my B-Day today.

Anonymous said...

I laughed out loud- I think we had the same haircut. 70's fashion was not kind to children.

Bernita said...

Did various relatives describe you as "difficult" after, Jason?

Anonymous said...

Mermaid, shy probably isn't the right word. People usually find me "quiet" until an opportunity presents itself for me to open up. Then, they are usually suprised with how outgoing I am. I'm just cautious, I guess. I want to feel some connection with a person before I go beyond politeness. BTW, the birthday pictures just struck me when I was looking at them. My actual birthday is near the New Year.

Eileen, I did think that picture of me standing there was pretty hilarious! Sorry to hear you were a victim of the bowl haircut and polyester also.

Bernita, well, my parents did. I can vouch for that. Funny how being introspective and cautious can earn you that term. To me, hyper, underachieving, breaking stuff, doing heroine--thost things are difficult.

Kelly (Lynn) Parra said...

Wow, thanks for sharing a bit of your past with us, Jason. It so strange the kinds of hang ups we had as kids and how they effect us now. =D

Anonymous said...

I'll have you know it was NOT a bowl cut. It was a Dorothy Hamill cut. At least that is what my mom told me.

Anonymous said...

Kelly, so true!

Eileen, well, I was going to say that, but do I really want to admit I had a girl's haircut? Let's not kick the kid when he's down! :D

Sandra Ruttan said...

(I'm already ducking as I say this.)

Party pooper.

Seriously, I enjoyed reading that.

Jeff said...

The expression on your face in that photo of you backed into the corner is clearly one of "fight or flight." You don't look happy at all.

Anonymous said...

GirlGrownUp, now that sound like a party!

Sandra, *cake flying over your head*

Jeff, great observation! Since the corner has closed off the flight option, I'm ready rumble, baby!

anne frasier said...

OMG, jason!!!!

that is adorable!!

i love the way you've placed your hand gently on an important-looking book -- as if reaching for comfort!!

i love super 8.

Cate said...

Oh, I'm just laughing at this post! I love the way you told the story!

We have old films, too, and you've inspired me to pull them out! THANK YOU!

P.S. What a little cautious cutie you were!

Terri said...

I love this little glimpse into your past, Jason. I always wanted a birthday party as a child but never had one cos my birthday was during the long summer holidays. As an adult I like to pretend I don't have a birthday.

And... actually I think I may have had that haircut too! lol! No, wait.. mine was a little longer in the neck. Must've had a deeper bowl in our house :)

Ann Marie Simard said...

Fun story, Jason! Nice to read a little about you. I did not want a graduation party nor any parties for subsequent degrees. Felt it was done, it was my thing, no flaunting, nothing to party about. The deed and the articles was it. Not party.

Thanks for sharing this....

Bhaswati said...

Sweet. I can relate to that so well. I used to be exactly the same way as a child. I would hide in another room when guests came, cringing at the idea of dressing up and facing a crowd. And my embarrassment would embarrass my family members as they struggled to get me to interact. lol

* said...

i know I said already so please forgive me when I come again with that Sebald, but I always have to think about him when I come here....thats just wonderful with the keep this going.....

Anonymous said...

Anne, =D You're so right about the hand. They got me good that day! It's weird feeling sorry for the kid in the picture knowing he's me.

Cate, thanks! :D Definitely pull those films out. Even consider transferring them over. I'm not sure that film equipment can even be repaired anymore. I don't know about you, but every time the projector sat a while, the bulb blew as soon as we turned it on. The last one I ordered was $70 and that was more than 10 years ago.

Terri, a deeper bowl...LOL! Sorry you didn't get the parties you wanted. I think the moral of the story is to listen to kids (as I remind myself now as parent). The things you make them do or not do can stick around for a long, long time.

Ann Marie, I really liked your comment about "nothing to flaunt." That's what I felt about birthdays. I seemed like a contrived "look at me, look at me" moment. I always wanted to earn attention.

Sury, forcing you to interract...that's a tough one. I only make my kids say hello out of politeness. Forcing them to do more can backfire, to which your own memories probably attest.

Anonymous said...

Antonia, I swear I'm going to read him! I trust your comparison.

Mom of All Seasons said...

I would much rather watch the bulk of the world from a corner, but when I need to I can work a conference room like I was born to it - I just have to pretend that I'm the most desired XYZ in the room (and I mean that in a NOT creepy way). But if I don't feel up to the act - I'm become "what's her name, again?" and happily (and snarkily) people watch.

Jamie (additional victim of the bowl/Dorthy Hamill/wedge haircut)

Rene said...

My son had the same experience for his 8th birthday. He asked for party and ended up in his room crying because he couldn't handle the attention. He's never asked for another. Glad we didn't have it on tape.

Linda said...

AAWW look at you standing in the corner. :)
I remember at that age why did I have to share my birthday party with my twin?? Why did we have to have the same birthday??
Lori was always the outgoing one and I was the shy one. It still is the same way now.

Anonymous said...

"It was a Dorothy Hamill cut."
Holding up my hand. I had one of those too.
And I was a skater too so that made it even worse.

Cie Cheesemeister said...

My father had a Super 8 projector too. As well as the infamous family films (which included me running around butt naked at 3 years old--cute when you're a little kid but embarrassing as hell when it resurfaces when you've hit puberty!) he ordered some classic silent films and cartoons. We had some enjoyable family nights watching Charlie Chaplin and Flip the Frog!
I only had two birthday parties. Both were pretty much flops. When I was 6, my teacher and some kids I didn't know came over. When I was 16, I had a couple friends over and we played role playing games. My father hung around the whole time.
The Bowl Haircut was pretty standard for boys in the 1970's. My brother had one too.

Melissa Amateis said...

We had the same old movies, too. Some of them have been transferred to video and I need to see how hard it is to transfer them to DVD.

It's odd that you mention that birthday party and how everyone and their dog came. We did the same thing - lots of relatives for the kids' birthdays. Funny thing is, I rarely see most of those people anymore, even around the holidays. But I do have a picture of me staring at my carousel cake with a big "oh" (picture the Home Alone look with a hand on either cheek) on my face. Whether that look was in surprise or "Get that camera away from me!" I don't remember.

Anonymous said...

Mom of all Seasons, I know exactly what you're talking about. You can kick into performance mode. You can wow the crowd. But if you don't need the performance and just aren't up to the effort, you fall back into your core reserve.

Rene, that's great that it was his choice. Lesson learned for him.

BeadinggalinMS, don't you just want to give him a hug? :) Well, I guess some people would rather slap him. Interesting story about your childhood. You wanted your own day, yet you were shy. Must have been a mixed feeling for you--wanting your own moment, but appreciating Lori there.

Kim, at least you had an excuse for the haircut! I bet it looked smashing in the midst of those trippy spins. BTW, wecome to my blog! New visitors rock! Hope to see you back. :)

Cheesemeister, you reminded me that we had a couple of those silent movies too! Abbot and Costello, I think. Geez, how lame were those in retrospect. We thought they were the coolest then, though.

Melissa, sounds like your memories are positive. A nice time to bring the family together. As for transferring the VHS, if you happen to get one of those DVD burner/VHS combos, it's very easy. I then loaded the raw digital file onto my computer to build the normal chapter structure, then burned a final DVD.

Bhaswati said...

Sury, forcing you to interract...that's a tough one.

Well, no, they never really forced me. All they tried to do was to make me feel comofortable before the guests (saying hello out of politeness like you say). But even that would be a struggle. This was when I was about 3-4 years old. I grew out of it with time of course. Haven't grown out of feeling awkward amid large gatherings though :P.

Rachel Vincent said...

I think I have a similar...issue. It's much easier for me to be in front of a crowd of people if I have a role to play. Like author. Or student. Or teacher. Just being me in front of more than a few people seems...inadequate. That's why I love the Internet.

Anonymous said...

Rachel, I imagine that's why more than a few of us are here. The opportunity for direct, get narrowed connection with others. I haven't tried the "author" role yet in public performance. Hopefully I'll find that one vibrant if I earn the chance to play it.

Jess Riley said...

Oh my goodness, look at that picture!!! How adorable. Thank you for sharing this!

WannabeMe said...

My folks never gave me a birthday party, so I don't know how I would have reacted. That's very interesting to know because I thought kids loved their parties.

Anonymous said...

Jess, I do look seriously pathetic. :)

Dana, many do. But many definitely don't. Would you like a party now? It's never too late. I'll bring the Tequila.

Anonymous said...

Oh, how I LOVED birthday parties! I CRAVED attention and I could not wait to have all my friends there. Not so much anymore. I'd rather be alone with my family.

Its neat to be able to take a little peek at your past.

Anonymous said...

Goldberry, you had a much healthier outlook!

WannabeMe said...

Jason - is tequila what they serve at kids' birthday parties?

*I ask innocently*

Anonymous said...

Dana, LOL!! Sadly, no. I wouldn've been doing a little soft shoe on the table rather than hiding in the corner. =D

TheTart said...

Oh wow, this could be me! My mom has a picture of me in kindergarden & all the kids are in a big circle for a group game ... not me, nope. Far away in a corner doing my own thing.

Great post & photo!

The Tart
; )