Living adjacent to a beautiful waterfront park is a mixed blessing. On Cracker Night (1 July) it’s like being in the middle of the shock and awe bombing of Baghdad. It’s made even worse by a mob of casino workers who rent the big house opposite and regularly have parties starting at 4 am when they get home from work. Last Sunday they even had a heavily amplified, tone-deaf rock band rehearsing in the backyard all afternoon. They had a girl lead singer with a tuneless voice like ground glass, who sang “Wild Thing” for all the world like Mrs Mills on speed.
Tonight is the armadillo’s revenge. Rebecca’s 15th birthday party is in full swing at Casa Armadillo, combined with a delayed 16th birthday bash for Nick from across the road.
Nick is lead singer in a local heart-throb teenage rock band himself. I’m not sure whether he can sing, but he’s a dead ringer for Daniel Johns from silverchair before he went anorexic. Nick’s contribution to the party was to hook up large banks of amplified sub-woofers to our hi fi system. It took him half the afternoon, I’m told, and he certainly did an effective job. Every window in the front half of the house shakes violently with the bass beat, as Eminem at ear-splitting volume fills the night air.
Huge crowds of teenagers are milling around outside and spilling into the park opposite. I suspect I might be to blame for that bit. When Rebecca first asked me whether she could have a party, she said “Dad, you know there’ll be lots of them drinking and pulling cones, don’t you?” Fleetingly I hoped she meant she had friends who were overly fond of Streets Cornettos. Not wanting to disappoint Rebecca’s expectations of stereotyped parental behaviour, I said “Well, I don’t want drugs or alcohol consumed on the premises, you know.” Hence the milling crowds across in the park; a pragmatic response to silly old fart parents.
Actually, we even seem to have failed to project a consistent stereotype. Jenny and I went to pick up a carload of pizzas and other teenage food half an hour or so ago, leaving Jenny’s best friend Sue and her partner Paul in nominal charge of the party. Sue discovered a big mob of girls in Rebecca’s bedroom surreptitiously chugging a cache of hidden mini-bottles of Bailey’s Irish Cream. “Wake up to yourselves,” Sue said. “It’s a disgraceful waste of perfectly good liquor to drink Bailey’s warm. Go and put it in an esky, you silly girls.” Apparently they looked shocked, but quickly obeyed.
One hundred minutes until midnight when the music goes off. Christ I’m glad I’m not a teenager again. Fortunately Rebecca seems too busy being the perfect hostess to 100 or so teenagers to get time to play up herself. I don’t want to think what happens at other people’s parties, though. I can still remember what I was like at that age. No wonder my beard’s gone completely grey.