Sunday, November 21, 2010

Tanti Auguri a/Happy Birthday to signorina T

Wedding planning is easy compared to planning a birthday party for over a dozen girls in Lucca. The first thing to do was to find a make up artist that was available for our date. The second thing to do was to worry that the make up artist wouldn't show up. To resolve that dilemma I invented a myriad of pretexts to have to call her. The last in the series being that T was bombarding me with questions I couldn't answer and would she be so kind as to talk to her directly etc. etc.

Next on the agenda was to get the girls in the class interested enough beforehand to hold the date, but then to distribute the real invitations within seven days before the date so that no one would forget about it. We solved the invitation issue thanks to some one-euro teddy bear key chains that were being sold in the open-air market. With a fortune cookie loop of a written invitation attached to each one with clear tape, they made perfect, impossible to forget, invitations. Then a hitch was thrown into the works when T's nemesis, a girl who looks at least sixteen, but is only twelve, and is repeating the year, purposely planned her birthday party to be the weekend after her real birthday just to see if she could divert some of the guests from coming to T's party. We know it was on purpose, because she lied to T about her intention to have a party at all and then the next day tried to get the girls to come to her instead. However, since all of her friends are in the second year by now, she had nothing to lose by trying because she really didn't care if this year's girls showed up or not. In the end we got every single one except for her. Poor dear.

Then there was the 24-hour stomach flu to worry about. Brilliant T managed to get it on the Wednesday before our Saturday date, the exact same day that her main professor was out sick. Problem solved!

For the favors, we tracked down silk pouches from my friend the erborista and nail polish from a popular shop in Fillungo and little adhesive designs for nails at the cosmetics store. What I did not expect was that the make-up artists would be old school and feel that the girls were too young to wear make up and only want to give lessons in skin care. Luckily my mom had sent along a huge make up kit that I got on sale from Sephora. After six weeks of waiting, filling out documents and making copies or my passport, and waiting on line at the post office and then sending them back registered mail to the Milan airport and then going back to the post office twice with the retrieval slip and paying two fees to get the small box, it arrived magically the morning of the party. And with this I convinced the make up artist to use make up even if she really felt it was vulgar. The moral of this story is please send us only things you don't care if we ever get (but feel free to wire us money:))

The next thing I didn't count on was the catechism class schedule, but it was fine that the guests arrived at all different times. And how could we have ever counted on the fact that after weeks of intense, intense studying and no downtime the girls would become rather scatenate/wild in a good way and scream their heads off for two whole hours. The documentary Babies was set up in the background. Since it is a silent movie I thought it would be perfect, but the breast feeding scene and some of the shots of pregnant women in Africa and Mongolia sent a handful of the girls into near catatonic shock, so T convinced us to replace them with videos of Shakira. All the girls here learned the dance moves by heart this summer as you can see from the video. The hero of the day was Lucia, a high school girl I had hired in the event that the make up artist would be working individually on the girls and the others got restless. Of course despite all claims to the contrary, the make up artist did work individually on the girls and the others got dangerously restless until Lucia came up with a whole host of games where you sit in a circle and because she speaks several languages managed to do all the translating while being a super cool big sister type to them all. Plus she also knew all the Shakira dance moves by heart!

The most touching moment was when one of the girls got the group to re-sing Happy Birthday in English; and the most joyful moment for me was when one of the mothers explained that the postal system is so bad here that no one is expected to send thank you cards!

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