Beware of your brain.
“Here’s an idea,” your brain starts, all perky and friendly, “don’t spend any money on your son’s fourth birthday party. Just entertain the kids yourself.” This seems like an amazing idea. For one thing, you don’t like spending money. And for another, they’re kids. It all fits.
“Let’s have a pirate party!” Your brain suggests next. Another brilliant idea. You can dress up as Captain Hook like in the Cbeebies panto and lead the calm, happy children in all sorts of pirate themed party games. “And don’t spend any money on a costume, just buy that cheap wig off ebay. You can improvise the rest. It’ll be fine. You’re a great Dad. You’ll make wonderful memories.”
Luckily, on the day, it turns out your wife has ignored your chuntering and hired a huge pirate bouncy castle, which is more than enough entertainment. But you’re committed now. You’ve spent the last several weeks telling your wife, your kids and anyone else who will listen that you’re going to dress up as a pirate and entertain the children.
You enter the venue in your ebay wig and your wife’s tights. It would be an enormous understatement to say that you do not look very much like Captain Hook. What you look like is halfway between the world’s worst Cher impersonator and someone’s gender confused uncle who’s filling in as the last minute substitute Brian May in a Queen tribute band.
The children have one of two reactions to you. The younger ones, presumably because of the tragic sadness of seeing a clearly down on his luck Brian May reduced to impersonating Cher at a children’s party, simply start crying. The older ones decide, as one, that whatever you are, you are wrong and you should be put out of your misery as soon as possible.
Their attacks are relentless and merciless. First your wig goes, then your eye-patch, then your wife’s chiffon scarf, then her gold shoulder purse (your costume improvising went a little off course). Then they jump up and down on you, throw things at you and pummel you senseless. The parents watch, or try not to watch, their faces caught between embarrassment, amusement, confusion and pity. Finally you are left wandering the village hall like a senile old man who’s mistakenly put on his wife’s tights before locking himself out of his house.
“That went well, didn’t it?” Your brain suggests timidly as you sit and stare into the distance, traumatised. Hollow.
“Shut up, brain.” You reply.