Imagine you're an 7 or 8 year old kid again, and you're birthday is just a few days away.
You've been talking about it for weeks, completely jacked up out of your mind with excitement. You've told your friends what you want at least 5 times, paying careful attention not to tell two friends about the same gift so you can avoid 'doubling up'. And you've invited everyone except for the big kid that chases you at recess, saying "It's Wedgie Wednesday, asswipe!"
The night before the big day you can barely sleep. This is almost worse than Christmas, you think. You wake up, and your body is streaming adrenaline so it doesn't matter. The hours until the party drag.
Finally, the door bell rings! Yes, here comes the first present! (The friend is secondary.)
He hands you the present. Cool, it's the Ben Ten Humungasaur you wanted!
Wait a tic. Something's wrong here. Why isn't the present wrapped? Hmm, okay, maybe it was a mistake, you think.
Then other party goers arrive, and all the other presents arrive unwrapped too. No paper. No bows. No cards to read that you wouldn't bother reading anyway. Just the gifts themselves, and a random gift or two that are decidedly not what you asked for.
In your little kid mind you think, 'What the heck? I wanted to rip open some paper, tear into some gifts. Be surprised. What gives? I think I'm getting jobbed here.'
You perk up a little because, well, you got everything you asked for, so that's cool.
Then your mom announces that every one should gather 'round the table for cake and ice cream.
'Aw, heck yes! Here we go!', you think, and dash over to the table, ready for your friends to see the sweet football theme you picked out.
Only you arrive at the table to see a green table cloth that looks more like the one mom uses at Christmas every year versus the one you saw at the Party Time store. And that cool centerpiece of the quarterback throwing the ball you wanted? It's, well, you don't what the hell it is but it's definitely not a quarterback. It's not even a player. You're sure of one thing, though: it's homemade.
The disappointment is rising. This isn't at all what you wanted.
Then there's the cake. Or is it a cake? It looks kind of nutty and walnutly, and there doesn't seem to be an ounce of chocolate anywhere.
And the party favor bags includes not the football cards, candy and Super Fun Balls you requested, but Clif Kid Organic Bars, packets of green 'kid' tea and a pair of gardening gloves. Gardening gloves? What are those for? Then you see the map to a local creek with instructions on which bushes to pull out and which ones to leave.
This is a nightmare.
You go over to your Mom, tug on her sleeve, your lip half quivering and ask, 'Mom, where's my football theme? Where's the QB I wanted? And all my gifts came unwrapped. And....'
She shooshes you and calmly explains that she thought it would be more fun to be environmentally conscious and asked that your friends not wrap their gifts, or to make their own gifts. She also thought she'd save some paper by using the table cloth because, well, green cloth is just like a green football field, right? It may not have the yards and lines on it, but you can imagine it, right? And she opted for a centerpiece that she made from a recycled milk carton to look like a football (not at all) and dried moss that looks like a football field (not at all). Besides, she says, what's really important is that your friends are here sharing your special day and helping the earth.
You think, 'No, Mom, you're out of your fuckin' mind. This is a fuckin' joke, right? You know this is how serial killers start out, right?' And you really want to say those words out loud, but you don't because you know you'll get a mouthful of organic soap—likely much worse than the time when you didn't recycle the Coke can that you weren't supposed to have in the first place because it wasn't organic.
But none of this is a joke. She's quite serious.
That's when you snap.
The door to your room thunderously slams shut. Your wails are heard in every corner of the house. Sprinkled in between the sobs are shouts of "This is the worst birthday ever!" and "I hate you!" and "Gardening gloves!? Gardening gloves!?"
And you're right. It is the worst birthday ever.
And all because your overeducated halfwit of a mother was trying to assuage her hyperventilating state of eco-guilt.