Columns

2009.01.28 Our surprise at the party

on . Posted in By The Way

By DAVID GREEN

I went to a 60th birthday party last night and, fortunately, it wasn’t my own. I’m many, many months behind this woman, however, I was only one grade behind her at Morenci High.

It was Kathye (Phelps) Herrera’s party. I told her I was tricked into coming by being told it was an inauguration party. That was OK by her. Her birthday was on inauguration day and her husband’s was on election day.

For my wife and I, our departure was typical of many similar events. It was almost time to leave and we hadn’t yet done anything about a present. The gift was supposed to be on the jokey side rather than something serious.

This sent Colleen off to search through her legendary Purple Box containing gifts for any occasion. Actually, it’s not just jokey gifts that come out of the Purple Box. Our poor kids know very well when one of their serious birthday presents once resided inside Purple. In fact, the gift Colleen came up with was once given to Ben and was “gifted back” to the box this past Christmas.

It’s the hypochondriac’s Wheel of Wisdom called “Yes, You’re Probably Dying.” Choose a symptom and steel yourself for the bad news.

Choose a stomach ache, for example, and learn what illnesses you might have and the specialist you should consult. There are also suggestions on what to obsess about in the meantime as you wither away.

The final little window on the wheel lets you know that it’s probably just gas.

We didn’t know if Kathye was a hypochondriac, but we knew she would howl with laughter. What would a gathering be like without Kathye’s peals of laughter tearing through the room? For me it’s always a challenge to induce it.

Colleen brought out a second gift that would guarantee screams from the birthday girl: Boudreaux’s Butt Paste.

Actually this was my unopened tube of Butt Paste. We picked up a few—not nearly enough—when we were in New Orleans. It was new to me. I’d never heard of Butt Paste, not Boudreaux’s nor anyone else’s.

From what I’ve read, it’s available in many locations other than Louisiana where it was developed. Pediatrician “Pappy” Talbot started marketing the stuff years ago by using Dr. George Boudreaux’s formula.

In 1994, Dr. Boudreaux sold his pharmacy in Covington, La., bought an RV he called the Butt Mobile, and took off across country to peddle his paste.

If you’re among the uninitiated, Boudreaux’s paste is said to be a very effective diaper rash treatment. The special ingredient is probably the Peruvian balsam oil.

As predicted, Kathye tore the wrapper off her tube of Butt Paste and howled. It was easy for me to give up my tube because I knew it would be such a hit.

But wait a minute, let me back up. We also needed a birthday card. I suggested finding any kind of card—sympathy, graduation—and altering it to fit.

That was easy, too. Colleen had bought a few homemade cards at a craft sale. They’re very nice Christmas cards. Very attractive, very sad to destroy, but it was past time to leave.

She told me who made them and asked, “Do you think she’ll be at the party?”

It wasn’t likely. We hadn’t run across her at other gatherings involving this crowd. She wasn’t mentioned when Colleen was given a rundown of the guests.

OK, I went to work. “Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!” became “Let it go! Let it go! Let it go!”

The cute Christmas rhyme inside was transformed into a rude little ditty in reference to reaching 60 years of age. We worked on it en route to the restaurant and never came up with anything more satisfying.

We arrived at the eatery, walked into the room and front and center at the table was the card designer. Colleen turned to look at me and told me later there was laughter written all over my face.

It was a large room and we made our way to the back where people were placing their coats and that’s when Colleen began her laughing fit. Fortunately, she doesn’t howl quite like Kathye, but she laughed so hard tears flowed and guests probably thought she was having some sort of emotional breakdown.

The card remains on our entryway table. Our apologies to the designer.

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