When I was a little kid, all I ever really wanted was a big birthday party with a piñata. I pictured all of my friends taking a shot at it first, blindly swinging away, but nobody really doing any significant damage. Then it would be my turn, the birthday boy going last. I’d walk right up and take a huge swing, perfectly placed, dead on in its accuracy, and the whole thing would just explode, candy showering down everywhere, everybody cheering, chanting my name, dancing around in the downpour of individually wrapped sweets.
Obviously that’s kind of a difficult fantasy to exactly make happen in real life. There are so many variables out of my control, like all of the other kids. I wasn’t the smallest kid in my class, but I definitely wasn’t the biggest either. And in terms of skill? Of being able to accurately swing a stick, blindfolded, and crack it open on the first try? Yeah, I could think of like five other kids who would’ve had a better chance at that than me.
But my whole plan, to actually set it up, I just had to do the best I could and leave the rest up to chance. Or I could have acted like a spoiled little birthday brat and told everybody to miss it on purpose, watching them carefully as they all went first, having a mini breakdown temper tantrum if any of the kids started swinging too close, you know, starting a little screaming fit, just being totally obnoxious, and then when it’s my turn, I could have had them lower the piñata to my exact specifications, make myself a custom blindfold that only looks like a blindfold, like you’d think I’d be blinded, but I’d actually be able to see everything. And then even if I missed, or if I hit it but it didn’t break apart immediately, I’d start whacking it again and again, until that candy shower that I was talking about before … yeah, I wouldn’t want to do that. That wouldn’t have felt right. It wouldn’t have been that organic moment of pure joy that I was dreaming about. Plus my mom would have definitely yelled at me for acting like such a baby.
My birthday was coming up and my mom let me have a party in the backyard. Maybe I’d have like a birthday party guardian angel watching over the whole fiesta, making sure that my friends couldn’t swing, or that they could swing but they’d miss totally, or they wouldn’t miss totally, but their whacks wouldn’t do anything, wouldn’t even make the piñata move at all, it would be like hitting a tree, or a piece of steel. Maybe that would happen.
I was really into the Power Rangers at the time, and I really wanted a piñata of Tommy, the green Power Ranger. Tommy wasn’t one of the original five. In fact, he wasn’t even really a Power Ranger at all. Not at first. Well, he was a Power Ranger, but he was evil. Get it? Like Tommy the person wasn’t evil, but Rita Repulsa used him as a vessel for the evil inherent in the evil Power Ranger medallion that then turned him into the evil green Ranger. It’s complicated, and very evil; I think you’d have to watch the show.
What I was getting at was that I really wanted a green Ranger piñata, but he wasn’t an original Ranger – even though he wound up overcoming the evil and joining the Power Rangers as the sixth Ranger – so the piñata store didn’t have a green one on hand. Just the classics, red, yellow, blue, black, pink. I picked out the blue one, thinking that I could just customize it, make it green myself. Even though, I thought, it would probably be easier to turn the yellow one green than the blue one, but the yellow one was Trini, a girl, and if my plan didn’t work out, I didn’t want to be stuck at my party with a girl Power Ranger piñata, everybody would have made fun of me.
It came out OK. It didn’t exactly look green. It looked green, kind of, but you could still totally see the blue underneath. I made the special gold green Ranger shield, so, you know, maybe the parents didn’t get what was going on, but all of my friends, they got it, they were like, “Wow! Rob! That’s so cool! Where did you get a green Ranger piñata?”
So far, so good. Everybody lined up. Mark went first, definitely the biggest of my classmates. I figured, universe, or God, I guess I still believed in God when I was a little kid, I was like God, just let Mark miss, and I’ll be golden. My mom tied the blindfold really tight. He stepped up. Whack!
Direct hit. Mark knocked it right in the homemade chest plate. It was like all of the green came off first, so it was this blue-green, mostly blue explosion, and Mark was just standing there, getting showered in candy by himself. And he didn’t even realized it at first, but as soon as he did, he untucked his shirt and held it out underneath the candy shower, just collecting so much candy, the lion’s share, all of the good stuff. Then when it stopped he ran off to some corner, he hadn’t even taken off the blindfold yet, and he sat down and started in on his loot. Everybody else kind of just ran to the grass to see what was left. Then some of the parents started clapping, then everybody had cake, and then everybody went home.