Parties for Old People

April 25, 2009

My father will be seventy years old this August. My sister, brother and I decided last year that we would put a surprise party on for him.

The last time we organized a celebration for my father was at his fiftieth. Twenty years ago in Melbourne, Thai restaurants were a new thing. A Thai restaurant in Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, was particularly well known as the place to be. The name of this restaurant was Patee Thai. Its probably still there. But like any good thing, there is now a chain of these ‘same name’ restaurants around Melbourne. Just quietly, like anything I used to do in the eighties, I wouldn’t go there now. Been there done that… to death. If you’ve lived through eighties fads and fashions yourself, I’m sure you would understand the sentiment…

Anyway, in the eighties in Melbourne it was all the rage at Patee Thai to book the low tables at the front of the restaurant. The novelty was to sit at these low tables on funky, triangular cushions. From memory, the way you arranged yourself on a triangular cushion was to tuck your knees under one of the triangular corners and sort of kneel resting your butt on a flat edge. 

My sister, Heather, and I booked Patee Thai for my father’s fiftieth and invited a large group of his friends. His friends were all obviously around his age and some of them considerably older. Of the considerably older ones, none are still with us sadly. 

My sister and I were in our twenties. We considered ourselves fairly funky and with-it. We knew booking a party at Patee Thai was the hip thing to do. We never discussed it in this way at the time, but booking dad and his friends into Patee Thai for a sit down meal at low tables on triangular cushions felt like privileging the olds with (our) funkiness. In fact we were so absorbed in the funkiness of the situation to miss the obvious point that asking fiftty-plus year olds to sit-kneel at low tables for over two hours was a rather stupid thing to have done. It was a physical challenge to almost everyone there except my sister and I.  Many of them found the experience ranging from unpleasant to excruciating. Those who managed to sit for that long barely managed to stand after the experience. I remember Uncle Keith(rest his soul)’s large form, supported by two people either side, being hoisted back to standing. The sight reinforced just how low these low tables actually were. He was unsteady for some time either due to the stress of standing on his circulatory system or from the cramping in his legs or both.

Obviously we won’t be making that mistake again. The seventieth is going to be at my place. We’ll fire up the pizza oven and possibly hire a jazz quartet. Seating needs to be well thought out. This is a hurdle we haven’t cleared yet. It will depend upon the numbers. In recent planning discussions I realized neither my siblings nor myself knew how to contact dad’s friends. We’ve now put ‘surprise party’ into the too-hard basket and decided to enlist dad’s help putting the invitations together. This is in line with the KISS principal of organisation (Keep It Simple, Stupid). 

Dad will still get a surprise: We have decided not to tell him that my brother and his family are flying down from Queensland to attend. 


4 Responses to “Parties for Old People”

  1. trousers said

    That last part was especially warming to read, I hope that your brother’s presence proves to be the icing on the cake of what should be a really good and enjoyable occasion.

  2. Kit said

    Isn’t it funny how deluded we all are as twenty-somethings, with a monopoly on cool! Hope you have a great and very comfortable party.

    Btw I’ve tagged you for a meme, if you feel like it.

  3. ejenne said

    Hi trousers. I hope so too. I’m starting to wonder if an evening thing is the go actually. Maybe afternoon tea would be more sensible. Mind you, dad can still ride a push bike from one side of New Zealand to the other and back. If his friends are anything like him, they might party us under the tables!

  4. ejenne said

    Hi Kit. You remember that too? Its really funny isn’t it. The other thing the 20 somethings think they have the monopoly on is sex. I have a funny story about how a 45 year old colleague of mine shocked me speechless out of my complacency on that one. I might write about it next actually. Its definitely a blogworthy story if I can frame it well.

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