You love the Spice Girls! But when you get there, dressed in your best 90s clothes, you realized you have vastly over-estimated your knowledge of their catalog. And the only music they’re playing – at all – is the Spice Girls. You’re realizing now that you only know “Wannabe” and maybe like one other song. Within 20 minutes, you’re into the deep cuts, and you’re not exactly sure how to dance to any of it.
That might not seem sad, yet — not until you sidle up to the host to suggest some non-Spice Girls 90s jams and notice that the music isn’t coming from Spotify … it’s blasting out of a resurrected iTunes library. This party’s planner has bought and downloaded the entire Spice Girls catalog.
You are suddenly and powerfully moved to call your mother and thank her. You’re not sure why.
It sounds fun and flirty on the invite: “come dressed as your Tinder profile. Funny bios only! 😎 ” But once you arrive, it’s instantly clear that whoever is in charge is far too committed to the theme. You are immediately marshaled down dark hallways lined with corrugated steel and into gleaming white, undecorated cells by a battalion of Orwellian goons and classified based on your gender and sexual preference.
Then you’re directed to sprint down different, equally dark and ominous hallways and stairwells alone, in an intricately choreographed traffic pattern marked out on the floor in glow tape. When you bump into somebody else you are both pulled into a pitch black side room and lit by a single spotlight. A disembodied voice, dripping with menace, tells you to yell out on the count of three either “match” or “pass.”
If you both say “match,” then — and only then — you are allowed to go into a perfectly average living room and hang out or whatever. If not, the process repeats itself until a match is reached.
Maybe, you think to yourself afterward, this was an art installation, not a themed party. But even then, it’s clear that whatever mystery architect designed this has far too much time on their hands, far too much money and is very, very lonely.
Despite your worst fears, it’s actually really wholesome, laid-back and a lot of fun. The Olsen twins are there, wearing all black and hovering – expressionless – in the corner. Bring them each a vodka on the rocks, and they’ll bitterly decry their exclusion from the Fuller House Netflix revival. You’re surprised and hopeful as you stumble home in your John Stamos jacket.
5-year-old Birthday Party
Okay, this one you’re not even worried about. The Facebook event invite promises a piñata, a bouncy castle and enough birthday cake for everyone to have seconds. “Come dressed like your kindergarten self!” And it’s a darty! This sounds so fun and Instagrammable.
But it is the single darkest experience of your life — past, present or future. In the bouncy castle, drunk adult men in zip-off cargo shorts and Spongebob Squarepants party hats try to double bounce each other. Grown women in Tinkerbelle-esque mini-skirts tucked into oversized Dora the Explorer tees stuff Tootsie Rolls from the recently exploded piñata into their bras. Holy mother of corn, they have a clown guarding the exit. How didn’t you see that. Whenever you glance over, it smiles and waves, drilling into the darkest part of your soul from across the lawn with its unfeeling eyes. No! No! Look away!
Finally, the birthday boy — a senior in your marine bio lab — brings out an under-the-sea-themed cake and forces everyone in attendance to sing him “Happy Birthday.” Then, this adult man sincerely makes a wish aloud, tears dribbling down his cheeks. Then he blows out the candles, handing the cake out in slices to everyone in attendance. There is not enough for seconds.
You stay for your single slice of soggy Kirkland ice cream cake. You return to your dorm room, sit on the floor and stare at the wall, quietly humming to yourself until 3 in the morning.