An 80s flashback: My sister Eileen wanted to go to the Duran Duran concert so badly. Mom and Dad were conflicted because a concert at Madison Square Garden seemed a bit much for Eileen and her 7th grade cohorts. Eventually, my parents relented, in part, because it would be Terry McCormack and his station wagon that would be on duty that night.
Any second-guessing they were experiencing melted away as Eileen came downstairs though. Her flushed cheeks and ear-to-ear grin were youthful touches to an otherwise mature looking young woman. Even as her younger brother, I had to admit she looked beautiful. It was sweet, watching them watching her and understanding how vulnerable parents can be. Eileen probably could have bummed a cigarette off my dad on her way out the door if she wanted to. In hindsight, I should have seized the moment to ask if we could get HBO.
Now let’s flash-forward a few decades. Margo was invited to a quinceañera celebration last month for her friend Ana’s sister, Maya. I wondered if a Saturday night party with teenagers in West Midtown made sense for a 10-year-old. I went to several Sweet Sixteen parties and what leaps to memory is drama. They were like JV weddings – amidst the dancing and uncomfortable outfits, there were awkward speeches, wise-ass boys and always it seemed, at least one crying girl.
But I knew Margo would be in good hands with Ana’s parents, Mike and Lilia. If anything did arise, it probably wouldn’t involve her anyway. The only thing that still gave me pause was the dress code compliance. Margo’s fashion sense leans more towards t-shirts with the sleeves cut off and mismatched Converse All-Stars. Kristen was going to be away that weekend so I made certain an outfit was selected well in advance. Wardrobe issues are not my strong suit.
When Margo descended the stairs with her jean jacket over a cute yellow romper and a sheepish grin, I had the moment that made me recall my parents, Eileen and Duran Duran. Margo was adorable, glowing, yet more mature looking than ever before. If she had asked for the car keys I may have said “OK–but be careful!”
I was awash in adulation when she said “Uh oh. Bloody nose.” But she calmly, maturely held tissues in place, determined not to get anything on her outfit. And then she sneezed. I’ve never seen anyone sneeze while having a bloody nose before but it isn’t pretty. The outfit (and the moment) seemed ruined and then the tears started rolling down her cute little cheeks. Drama.
I placed an S.O.S. call to Kristen interrupting her poolside in Vegas. Poor thing, she must have been wracked with guilt not being there for me. I mean, not being there for Margo. Stain removal instructions were given–the bar, the spray, the special wash cycle. The quinceañera miracle of 2019 was that not only did we get her outfit cleaned and dried, we were only a few minutes late. I walked Margo into the party and it looked fantastic. Kids of all ages were decked out and the vibe was all fun, no drama.
I passed the time until pickup Googling facts about quinceañeras. You don’t necessarily have to be Latino to have one but if you are a man in your forties, you’re probably not eligible. Sigh. Lobbying for an invite to Ana’s party in a handful of years may be the best I can do.
Margo was beaming when I arrived. Her feet hurt from dancing and she may have strained a dimple from smiling all night. Her takeaways were that one teenaged couple was making out which was “gross” and the highlight of the party was when Lilia tipped her and Ana off that the Candy Bar was ready before anyone else noticed. So, it seems for a little while longer at least, she’s still my little girl.
Tim Sullivan grew up in a large family in the Northeast and now lives with his small family in Oakhurst. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.