We had set 2pm as the official kickoff time for the party, reasoning that that way, the children could have a couple of hours to themselves, before the adults took over the venue at about 6pm.
Better still, by starting the party in the afternoon, we could fairly suppose that our guests would already have had their lunch, which would cut down on the food budget. However, in order to ensure that everything was ready for the big do, we decided to head over to the venue at midday to get everything properly set up, and once we got there, we were glad we had decided to come in that early as the place was completely bare, with no sign whatsoever of a party.
While Chris began offloading the snacks I had prepared, I went on in with C.G to locate Lucy, who I found counting and arranging stock in the fridges.
She looked up from her work as I walked in and squealed excitedly: “There’s the birthday boy! My, he is so grown!”
“Hi, Lucy, how are you?” I greeted her with a warm smile.
“Great, thanks. I was just sorting out the bar stock so we can have the party stock separate. Give me a minute to finish it up, and I’ll be right with you,” she explained as Chris walked in with the snacks.
“Hey, Lucy,” he greeted her cheerfully. “Have the party drinks arrived yet?”
“No, most of the guys that pledged drinks paid cash so, I just ordered from my usual suppliers. They will be delivering any minute now,” she explained reassuringly.
“Fine, Steph has done the snacks, but what’s up with the grilled meats?”
“Oh, those will be lit up later on in the evening for the adults. The kids have the snacks and cake, and hope you have got the biscuits and sweets too?”
“Damn, forgot all about those! No worries though, I’ll just drive down to the supermarket and pick them up now. Anything else I should pick up while I’m there?”
“Yeah, I was thinking we need to get the place looking a bit more festive so, how about some balloons and party banners?”
“I’m on it,” he answered, already turning to head back to the car.
Although Chris had kept me updated on the progress of the party’s preparations, this exchange between him and Lucy left me feeling like an outsider as far as my own son’s birthday was concerned, and while I knew I should be grateful to Lucy for all her help, I could not help but feel a twinge of resentment towards her for practically taking over C.G’s big day.
She finished up her stocktaking a short while after Chris left, and then came to the front of the bar where I sat bouncing C.G on my laps.
“OK, that’s it, I’m done,” she announced brightly, and then reached out for C.G, who I handed over reluctantly. “Come take a peek at the birthday cake and let me know what you think.”
I followed her into the bar where she pulled out what I had to admit was an absolutely beautiful cake from the fridge.
Decorated in white and baby blue icing, with the words “Happy Birthday C.G” in its centre, it looked like the sort of cake I would have picked out myself, and although I still felt like she was taking over what should have been my role, my pleasure and gratitude were genuine.
“Lucy, it’s just perfect! Thank you so much!”
“Don’t mention it. Chris is a dear friend, so it is the very least I could do,” she brushed away my thanks. “Did you know he is always going on and on about you and C.G? It is so obvious he’s really crazy about his family, and I’m always thinking how lucky you are to have such a devoted guy and father to your son. There are not too many men like him around these days so, I hope you realise how blessed you are.”
I almost laughed at her words, but she seemed so earnest about them, and I didn’t feel close enough to her to point out that Chris had his fair share of major flaws, so I simply smiled pleasantly and answered: “No, I had no idea that he’s always talking about us, but yes you’re right, I am very lucky to have him,” even though I didn’t feel in the least bit lucky in my choice of partner.
Source : The Observer