par*ty cap*tain |pärtē kaptən|(n) the individual in command of a social gathering of children, typically involving cake, mini-golf and silly string, as in: Did you see that little boy hit the party captain with his golf club?
It takes a certain kind of person to be a party captain: a person with fortitude, grit, determination, and the ability to clean silly string. I have none of these qualities, yet, for eighteen months, I was a party captain. I didn’t set out to lose every shred of dignity I had. I’d wanted to work at The Gap or Orange Julius, both stores in the nearby mall, but in my college town, the lucky few who got those coveted positions held on tight until they were graduated, and then bequeathed them to younger siblings, sort of like rent controlled apartments in New York City.
After months of searching, I landed a part-time gig at Putt-Putt Mini-Golf and Arcade. Once the manager saw my keen skill at handing out golf clubs and game tokens, I was promoted to party captain. I’d always wanted to be a captain (who doesn’t?), and it came with a raise of ten cents per hour. This was no ordinary captain though. The job description, if there was one, was to organize kids’ birthday parties.
I was told that a typical party would unfold like this: First the kids would play a round of mini-golf while I would help them and hand out small prizes along the course. Then they’d go to the pavilion to eat hot dogs for lunch, sing happy birthday, cut the cake, and open presents. Finally they each would get tokens to use in the video game room.
What actually happened was this: The first party I captained was for a seven-year-old boy and his thirteen friends. I knew things were going to be rough when one of the boys stood atop the picnic table in the pavilion as if he was claiming it for his country, “No girls allowed. This is boys only. Girls are stoopid.” Being a girl myself, this presented a problem.
Everything went downhill from there. The boys ran around the golf course, much to the chagrin of other paying customers, and refused to be corralled. Because playing mini-golf was stoopid.
They swung their putters in the air, pretending they were in sword fights and shouting, “En guard.” One hit me in the back with a putter by accident. I think.
They threw all of balls into the woods behind the course and stuffed the prizes from their goody bags into the holes on the greens. The prizes were stoopid.
They ate their hot dogs, which were not stoopid.
The birthday boy refused to blow out the candles on the cake. Candles were stoopid, as was cake. The cake they smeared all over the picnic table and benches.
Next they sprayed silly string around the pavilion. Which then embedded itself in the lattice work and the wood planks. (Where did they get the silly string?) I later found the stuff in my hair, down my shirt and in my pockets.
Then they decided they’d had enough and demanded to be released to play video games. They banged the putters on the tables in unison shouting, “Game room! Game room!” The game room was definitely NOT stoopid.
And in the end I got exactly $0 tip.
To be fair, not all of the parties were like this. Most of them were much, much worse.
Did you have a part-time job while you were in school? What was your most favorite or least favorite job?
Have a great weekend, everyone!