On the occasion of my partner’s - may she live a long life - 30th birthday (not counting Shabbat weekends and holidays), I was notified that she has decided to throw a party. I said that was an excellent idea, and I would need only a couple of hours to pack and find a suitable destination in classic Europe. However, she explained to me that this time she wanted to mark it with a more modest celebration. “We’ll invite 10 couples,” she said. “You’ll put a few CDs together, we’ll offer some snacks, and it’ll all cost less than what you would have spent on a gift.”
Since I had completely forgotten to buy her a gift, I quickly changed the subject. The next time, I finally managed to say what I really thought: “What do we need this for? Every two years you throw a party, and afterwards I have to apologize to all the people you forgot to invite. The truth is I am no longer interested in being a part of this.”
It sure sounded impressive and authoritative. Unfortunately, she was at a parents' meeting. When she came back it was to say that our son hasn’t done his homework in two years, but the teacher gave her a really innovative recipe for a cheesecake she got from her brother-in-law. It is sure to impress the 15 couples coming to the party. “Okay,” I said with trepidation, “but not the Karnis. You know I can’t stand them.”
That is a little exaggerated. Orna and Aviad Karni are very nice people who excel in one particular thing – being invited everywhere. No one really knows why, but if, for example, someone is organizing a trip to the north, the question “what about Orna and Aviad?” is bound to come up. Everyone feels awkward if they are excluded. They will be terribly insulted and will not speak to any of us any more. So, we invite them along and ignore them during the entire outing hoping they will get insulted and never speak to us again.
When my partner returned, she promised me that the Karnis were not among the 20 couples she was planning to invite to the party. We decided that if they call we’ll just tell them that we are only inviting 25 couples and there’s no more room in the house.
In light of this more than fair compromise, I decided to be positive and devoted myself to the pleasant task of selecting the music for the party. After an energetic and concentrated rummage through my CD collection, I decided to open with a medley of songs from Abba. The tall Rastafarian standing behind me said that it was better to begin with Elton John. I said that Elton was passé, and he said that Abba is even more so. I told him that he had no business telling me what is passé because I was passé even before he was born. He then proposed Billy Joel as a compromise. At this point I realized that I had no idea who this guy was. I hurt his feelings. “Whad’ya mean? I’m Ki Ki the DJ.”
It turns out that she hired a DJ called Ki Ki. In the world of DJs, it is not customary to call the person by a name which has more than two syllables because that would require excessive mental exertion and a danger of early burnout. Actually, she didn’t exactly hire him. He came with the sound-system that is now sitting in our living room. As is customary in the party business, there was a 72-channel console, a computer powerful enough to launch a space station, and eight speakers, each the size of the Tel Aviv municipality building; All there to enable Ki Ki to perform the complicated art of inserting CDs and removing them.
I apologized to Ki Ki and went to pick a fight with my partner but she was busy with the catering. “What catering?” I screamed. “Who needs catering for 30 couples? I thought we were going for snacks and a fruit salad.”
The fat guy from the catering company with the shirt hanging out of his pants went pale. “You never said anything about a fruit salad,” he said to my partner. “Where am I going to find fruit salad at this late hour to feed 40 couples?” I aimed for his head with a rolled-up newspaper but he ducked. We ended up compromising on falafel. I was forced to admit that falafel was a great idea. It’s simple, not expensive, and all I had to do was to demolish the dividing wall in the parking lot, so the fat guy could install his falafel stand. Meanwhile my partner was walking around scowling and troubled. She said Shlomo was late.
Shlomo, it turns out, was our lighting consultant. I did not know we needed one, but she explained that you cannot dance without a light consultant. I promised that I would personally take charge of flicking the light switch so that it goes on when the guests arrive but she told me that it’s too much light for the dance floor. In other words, she is paying a lighting consultant to make sure it’s dark. It was pretty effective because when I saw how much Shlomo charges, everything went black for me.
I decided the time has come to stop this massive drain on our finances. I took my partner aside and explained this to her but she replied that we can’t invite 45 couples and not offer them something to drink. There was a brief but stormy negotiation and I managed to reduce the workforce to two bartenders and a waitress. “Not so bad,” I said to myself out loud. “Maybe we’ll invite the new editor of the paper and I’ll hit on him for a raise during the party.” May-she-live-a-long-life said that was an excellent idea.
The party was a huge success. By 10:30 the floor was filled with 150 dancing couples. Towards midnight, I tried to carry out my usual trick (calling the police, pretending I am a neighbor and complaining about the noise), but the shift operator informed me that my partner had already contacted them ahead of time to say that I may call. She asked me to wish her a happy birthday. I said I would and then looked around. It was clear to me that no one would notice if I grabbed a couple of earplugs and took a nap. I stole away quietly to our unlit bedroom. It was there in our bed I found Orna and Aviad Karni sound asleep.