In my life I’ve attended surprisingly few parties with an Alice In Wonderland theme. I say “surprisingly” because one would think that the wonderful characters, the great decorating clues provided by Sir John Tenniel’s drawings, and the wealth of commercially available material would make such a party an obvious choice.
Laurie and Hazel are about to throw an Alice-themed birthday party for our friend Laurel. I had thought that I would be the guest of honor at an Alice birthday party because of my long love for the story, but I will be 64 this coming July, and I suspect the theme for MY birthday will be the Beatles — as in “Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m 64?” Laurie and Hazel didn’t want to wait until I am 65 to throw an Alice party, so Laurel is getting it.I was in my late twenties when I attended my first Alice party. I pointed out to Lydia Marano, who owned and operated the late lamented Dangerous Visions Bookstore, that Lewis Carroll had a birthday coming up soon. Immediately she was determined to have a mad tea party to celebrate the event.
And so it happened. Friends and longtime bookstore customers — the people Lydia called “the family” — gathered on Carroll’s birthday, many in costume. (The party was actually held only near his birthday, so, appropriately enough, it was more of an un-birthday.) I myself, dressed in vaguely medieval garb, came as the Beamish Boy of “Jabberwocky” fame. Lydia’s husband, Arthur Byron Cover, who looked more like the Mighty Thor than like Alice, wore a blue dress and a white pinafore. Little cakes, along with cups and pots of tea, covered a long table down the center of the store.
Because we were very much aware that we were in a bookstore full of new merchandise for sale, the guests were careful to be neat at all times. Eventually, this made Lydia crazy. “What kind of mad tea party is this?” she cried, and began to throw wet tea bags around. The guests soon got into the right spirit. Like the tea bags and cake crumbs, the Alice quotes flew thick and fast.
I’ve been watching Laurie and Hazel as they plan Laurel’s party and have occasionally been invited to participate. The planning has been fun and that usually bodes well for the event, which will take place along about the middle of February.
I will make my report then.
(To see my own nod to Alice, read The Jabberwock Came Whiffling, now available on Kindle.)