Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve gathered you here today to witness an execution, or a persecution, or an exorcism bathed in candle wax – whatever it is that one spiky-haired gadfly far beyond his sell-by date utilizes as a cork to plug his Super Sweet 16 vanity when that 16 is even less than half the truth. There are two threes in a six, three times six equals 18, 18 times two equals 36, and 36 – when squinted at through vodka tears on a cell-screen – bears a sad resemblance to two breasts sagging over a frown with its tongue hanging out. This sort of abacus Sanskrit all leads to the harrowing conclusion that by now I should be a troubled, drunk woman whose husband is prone to “business trips.”

“Do you want me to come?” said husband shuffles in defeat. “You have to come,” I wince a little too dramatically.

I’ve posed this particular gathering as some sort of Lesley Gore/Eric Roberts hybrid, adopting the “It’s My Party” meme and leaving both options – blond bouffant tears and self-inflicted gay death – open as possible conclusions. I can die if I want to. Worse still, as if to spite the fate that has rendered me a message of “help” spelled out in Xanax on the hairy ass of failure, I’ve pinned the corners of my mouth up into a carefree smile approximation. I’m happy, see! Never better!

Tonight’s birthday wake could be the sort of blowout that requires extreme, nutrient-free gluttony, and fortunately the nice ladies at the Dessert Lady Café on Church Street have swung open their oak doors for whatever sort of dramatic dénouement it is that my head is trying to reach around. If all goes correctly, everybody will be so engorged with caramel-apple or chocolate-Neopolitan ecstasy that by the time my leaden hammer comes crashing down with all 36 of its pounds, they might not even notice the blood splattering on the walls. To further ensure my deception, I’ve replaced the Dessert Lady’s typical middlebrow smooth jazz of the Dave Koz variety by smuggling in my own iPod playlist: “Gay Pride 2007.” It kicks off with one of those ABBA divorce numbers, “When All Is Said and Done.” I kick back a cocktail, my husband kicks himself to the corner, and pride, well, pride don’t live here anymore.

“Omigod, this is so fun!” I bubble over in no particular direction. “Thank you all so much for coming!”

“You all” is an odd collection comprised predominantly of amazing personages who have either seen my raw copy, my raw body or my raw inability to wakeboard: co-workers, boat people, bartenders and a state representative, all stirred into a stew designed to even out my booze humility. My boss, Bob Whitby, and his wife, Peg, have arrived with a collection of chocolate sex oils and candles, which for no particular reason lubricates a conversation about Peg having “Bob” tattooed on her body. What humility?

“You should just do one ‘B’ on each ass cheek,” I squeeze in. “And let the O take care of itself!”

Shortly thereafter, I’m rubbing my own “O” back and forth on Bob’s leg while coyly staring back at my husband and his predilection for Peruvian webcams. Is this revenge? No, it’s job security.

“So I get a raise, right?” I dismount, to no real reply.

Friends are really the best raise an irresponsible blob like myself could ever want, and it appears that most of them know that. My gift table is a divorcee’s hospital bedside, with lotions and flowers dominating, bouquets having been provided by Karen (who spent a half-hour outside in a presentational cell-phone breakdown like she was in Sex and the City and the Dessert Lady storefront was actually just the screen) and by Scott Randolph and Dave Plotkin, who appear to be announcing themselves as a new Democratic power couple.

“Oh, really,” my head trips over six Xanax. “We’ll see about that!” And this is where I set to crawling across the table and over to Randolph in a vain political attempt to McInvale him into another awkward queer political mailer. Amanda, the boat girl, is taking pictures at a paparazzi clip and almost manages to capture my jokey incrimination, but Scott, naturally, pulls out. Ha.

Shenanigans aside, I spend the better part of my cake-liquor mess with helium balloons tied around my neck, pecking at them like a guppy might and publicly manifesting my own battle with futility. I mime my way over to Taylor and Tim’s table and pull up a chair to discuss, well, me.

“Billy hates me and I hate him,” comes Tim with a page torn from some very esteemed etiquette book. “I’m only joking. Just like you always are.”

Except I’m not. In one last blaze of glory, I stumble through the 15 or so assembled cake-eaters and fashion a personal death spiral. The room spins, that scene from my fifth birthday party where I fell into the pool naked in front of my whole class flashes by my eyes, a camera clicks and I hit the floor: a lone balloon floating right over where my head should be.

It was my party. And I died, because I wanted to.

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