Our neighbours are having a birthday function right now for their one-year-old son.
This is suburbia. This could be the first time the back lawn has been used since the house purchase.
If that’s the case, this will be the kid’s first experience of the great outdoors.
It took them half a day to erect the pretend marquee (cf. Warehouse, $99.95, and grab some kerosene lanterns as well to create that Survivor feel). Another half-day was used to place the bunting, and then don’t even mention the amount of time it took to mail out the invites to the St Kentigern alumni association members.
I noticed things were changing in their back yard over the last week. I began to think there was a sense of realness and humanity in the eastern suburbs. That there was still a last outpost of a few of us, who struggled a little (hugely) financially and hardly ever talked about capital gains. Some of us still scoured the inorganic rubbish collections for the odd retro off-cut of carpet, or incredibly ugly but wonderful lamp. Sometimes the kids delighted in a discarded toy, even if a little dysfunctional; perhaps a play kitchen or a ride-on trike. It was just something new, anyway.
Things were changing next door, and they were putting out stuff for kids to play with. Perhaps it was getting kid centred out there. And then today I noticed the balloons on the front gate post and I knew that we weren’t in semi-rural Howick of the ’70s where the neighbourhood kids would pop their heads (brown and white) over the fence and instantly be invited in, anymore. It was Structured Auckland, and a First Birthday Formal. Please bring your pregnancy and a designer handbag.
Someone put Creed on, or something like it. I knew this was a bad sign, or the beginning of an Elim Church bun fight. At least it would end at 6pm, or tea at the cricket, whichever came first.
I mean, we all need to talk to one another and however we do that is perfect if it’s face to face. We often can’t get out unless it’s with kids in tow and so we take what parties we can get.
Maybe I am missing something here. The people have dead eyes. They look as if they are in the grip of capital-gains scrambling (pant, pant, work up until the day before you calve, back to work 14 weeks later to pay the mortgage, pant, pant) rather than experiencing the blissful burgeoning journey of making a new family, which may entail renting and eating Home Brand products for a little while.
I just hope that the noisiest male doesn’t try and haka later on. That’s all I ask. I know he will. It will be the tall one in the cap with early heart attack tattooed across his chest.