So there I was at shelter three.
We were fashionably twenty minutes late, since I had been waiting in the wrong side of the park before noticing I was at the wrong shelter. Yet something wasn't right.
As I walked towards the party holding the hand of my son and daughter on either side of me, I noticed a kiddie blow up slide, that seemed to be more for my three-year-old son than my six-year-old daughter, who was the birthday girl's contemporary. I also noticed Mickey Mouse Club House decorations. Hmmm?
"Don't tell me it's Donald Duck," my daughter said with an attitude.
"What do you mean?" I asked. "Donald Duck is for babies," she answered. There's nothing like a six-year-old who thinks she's a big girl.
"No it's not. Donald Duck is for everyone," I countered.
We kept walking. I didn't recognize anyone but, then again, these were girls from my daughter's ballet class and I don't really know most of the parents. But, they did seem a bit young; most of them in their mid-20's.
"Tell me if you see her," I told my daughter hoping she would recognize the birthday girl and we could start the introductions and settle in.
At this point, we were already in the shelter, which is nothing more than a tiki-hut (without the tiki) with a slab of concrete underneath, a built-in barbecue and some picnic tables, and I sensed an uncomfortable feeling that some of the young moms were wondering who the older fat guy with the kids was.
Two couples were still putting up balloons and before we settled, I went up to one of the couples and asked, "Michelle's Party?"
Oh... "We're at the wrong party," I told my daughter.
But then thought, I was sure the invitation said shelter three. Adding to my certainty, my wife kept reminding me before leaving on a school field trip with my older daughter for the weekend that our younger daughter had a birthday party on Saturday at noon.
I had planned my day accordingly. I went to Confession at nine, we would go to breakfast (at I-Hop, which we never go but my daughter was asking to go have pancakes there), and then the party at noon. I had to show a property at three, would go home to exercise and then start clearing the remainder of the Christmas decorations still in my house. The day was planned.
Could they have written the wrong shelter on the invitation? It had to be the reason.
We approached the next shelter, five, but it still didn't seem like it was the right party. "What was the theme on the invitation?" I asked my daughter.
"My Little Pony." Ok., so now we have a lead. Game plane; let's just look for the My Little Pony decorations.
There was another shelter up ahead. It had pink and black balloon. My Little Pony? I couldn't tell but as we got closer, I noticed it was not. Now what?
Wait a minute, I thought. Let's go back to the van to make sure the invitation was for today.
"Why are we leaving the party?" my young son asked as we walked through the parking lot after having walked around most of the park.
"We need to check the invitation again."
We got to our minivan and I quickly opened the door and pulled out the invitation; Sunday! Nice... We have to come back tomorrow...