Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Livin' la Vida Loca...

I teased about the Mexican first birthday party, so I guess I'd better put it up here.

I received an unexpected call from Dalia, the wife of one of Mike's fellow engineers, Andre. She had an invitation for us to her son's first birthday party, a pool party. I hadn't met her yet, and she asked to come by and drop off the invitation and say hello. I met her for coffee---parking is lousy right around the hotel unless you have a key card, and I didn't think that would be fair for her to try to find some and cart around the baby. She struck me as gorgeous, super sweet, a friendly person, and her son was adorable. She is interested in running! Bonus!

"Of course we would be honored to attend, how thoughtful of you to invite us," I said. "When is it?"

Saturday at 5.

Dang. Almost the same time as the Road Runners weekly "Predictor Run" at 6:30. My 2 lap insanity indulgence, which I've only done twice with the group but really enjoyed, as much as one can enjoy such an experience. Something I look forward to. Really really look forward to. Yes, it is a sickness. Many more than 12 steps involved, too. What can you do?

So Saturday rolled around. We'd secured a good gift for little Michelangelo (who goes by something like Mischu...though they are Mexican, they lived in Poland for another one of Andre's jobs and it's a Polish nickname I am told means little bear) and we went out to the Lakes area for this pool party.

Being Americans, we showed up on time. Being Mexican, so her husband explained somewhat sheepishly, Dalia and Mischu arrived nearly 2 hours later, she in a showstopping outfit that never went anywhere near the pool. I admit, women that are some 8" taller than me and 30 lbs lighter tend to look pretty good, and she was no exception. In fact, their entire family is way too good looking, as you can see.

They also have annoyingly good looking friends. I mention this only because I was feeling pretty dumpy in comparison, and those famously white legs of mine were suffering from razor burn so I wasn't really putting my best out there. The phrase "perfect tan" kept running though my mind as I scanned the fellow wives. Perfect tan, perfect nails, designer clothing, damn, great hair...the husbands were happily frolicking in the pool with their kids, paying no mind to the catwalk fashion strut goings on. Or if they were they wisely gave no sign of it. The wives were escorted by their household helpers, brilliantly plumaged peacocks trailed by dull feathered little birds.

It's more than slightly possible that I was piqued by the fabulous show of flesh around me only because I was missing the run. Dubai definitely has more than it's share of good looking people, no question. I probably could have fitted in the run without anyone noticing, and the thought kept returning in a way comparable to a smoker's thoughts in a non-smoking area.

Dalia had said she'd invited three other couples with kids besides us, so I was expecting a small, intimate sort of party that I couldn't possibly sneak away from. What she meant was that there were 4 couples with children from SNC Lavalin and actually this was a pretty good-sized group of people.

Fortunately the food came out and, as Dalia is a noted cook (though she denies it) we gave it a go. This also gave me the opportunity to back away from the pool, zip back on the legs of my pants and thus avoid redirecting planes from Dubai Airport runway with the white glow of my gams. I will not tan! The closest I might get anyway is to have all the freckles muster and somehow merge, thus is my lot in the land of the perfect sizzled tan. As it was, these women were the sort of unobtainable maintained attractiveness that I admire in those with extensive manicured grounds. Out of my realm of existence, so not a cause for jealousy. This is not to say that I didn't eat a goodly amount of walnuts to keep my strength up.

The kids were running around, Thomas trying his best to play basketball and climb on the play structure that was too big for him, Bethy and the other little girls were throwing sand at each other and having a great time. No one lost an eye.

For the Pièce de résistance a Mexican cake was served, layers of cake and fruit and cream and nuts. The little ones were tickled to be given long matches to light the candles on the cake and blow them out repeatedly. This was super fun stuff for Bethy, she couldn't believe she got her own match! On her left is Anna, John of the H3's daughter, and on the right is Gabby, Lizabeth (who needs to be credited with taking all the photos from this post---thank you!) and her husband, another Mike's daughter. These little folk were the people who mattered, and they had a great time.

Andre made a touching speech about how we are all far away from home and family, and that here in Dubai our fellow travellers are our family. I was also very impressed how he and Dalia made it very clear that their maid was a part of the family by including her in family portraits and having her sit with them, not just carry things and look after the baby.

The sun had long gone down, and as people began to leave the park, (again, no one helped to clean up! I told Mike in undertones that if we ever held a big party it would be catered.) Dalia pulled me aside.

"In Mexico we don't open the presents. What do we do here?"
"Um," I replied, "in the US you usually open the presents with the guests, but this is a Mexican party, so you should do it the Mexican way."

She had Bethy help Mischu open our gift anyway before we left. The thank you card arrived 3 days later, along with a darned good goody bag for each of the kids that no one had remembered to pass out at the party.

Me? I didn't get to run but I did eventually get to hang out with some of the mere mortals (who confessed they felt as I did about the peacocks!) from SNC and I had a piece of birthday cake.

Is there anything better than birthday cake? It's happy, and it's cake. Nope, nothing better.

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