I don’t get it. I don’t get it at all, and I guess I never really did. I just have no idea, at all, how so many people regardless of their personal economic health spend SO much on weddings, bar/bat mitzvahs, quinceaneras, birthday parties, whatever. I mean, I am not just talking about the Bridezillas or the gluttonous wastes of space on the MTV “My Super Sweet 16” series; I am talking about regular people with regular lives. How important is any party, and your ability to throw money at it? How did these celebrations end up mutating into over-orchestrated events mainly designed to impress and out-do your friends and family? I get really irritated about this, like if you just walked up to me and poured some kind of cold liquid in my ear. That’s the kind of face I make thinking about these stupid-ass parties.

Don’t you call me a party-pooper or curmudgeon either. I understand that people have a strong need to bring others together to celebrate these life events , and that – maybe – for most of them, it begins as wanting to provide their guests with a memorable, good time. But it gets out of hand almost immediately. You start with engraved napkins, and it just spirals out of control from there. Party clothes, party food, party place, party entertainment, party help, party flowers, party transportation, party favors, until you are looking at $500 for a kid’s 4th birthday party at the jumpy place or $25,000 for the average American wedding (not including rings or the honeymoon). Holy shit.

Think about that latter one for a second. If someone just came up to you and said, “Hey, give me $5000 an hour so you can drink and eat and do the Macarena with your Aunt Eleanor and Uncle Jimmy,” you’d go WUT and NO. You’d think, man, I’ve already got credit card debt and school loans and a car loan, I’d like to be able to buy a house someday, and my job isn’t all that secure, right? Maybe you’d even be so kind as to think, well, yes my parents have offered to pay for all this too, but I know this is going to mess up their retirement fund and delay that European Golden Years trip they’ve always wanted to take, that ain’t cool. So where does logic go out the window here? It takes a nosedive out the 30th floor because YOU WANT TO FEEL IMPORTANT for a few hours. Your fantasyland celebration of your special, special love (that has a 60% chance of ending in divorce we should note) will likely leave you crying in a Hyatt hotel bathroom in your elaborate gown after Uncle Jimmy drank too much at the open bar and threw up on you, your screeching fight with the caterer over the undercooked Beef Wellington, and the groom’s flirting with the maid of honor. You wanna play dress up, you can do it for a whole lot less at Halloween. You want attention, try actually doing something worth the admiration of others past an up-do and a 6’ cake and a Godiva chocolate fountain and Billy F-ing Joel playing the piano in a corner for another 25G’s an hour.

Sigh. OK, I will settle down now.

Birthdays and weddings are going to keep coming, I know, and no matter what folks are going to keep trying to make them into overblown Disney spectaculars until people just tire of it and see it for what it is: a waste. You don’t need to spend more than you have to have a good time and be happy about the changes in your life. You don’t need to invite every last dimly-remembered acquaintance, family friend from 10 years ago, every kid in the 1st grade, or LinkedIn contact. You don’t need to buy your 15 minutes of fame with 15 years of debt. Even if you have piles of cash, PILES AND PILES OF GOLD AND CASH AND GEMS AND STABLE INVESTMENTS, spend a more modest amount on a party with people you actually know and like and toss a few bones to a charity in the name of your fabulous life milestone.

If I am ever at a big wedding and Uncle Jimmy trips and his Jack and Coke goes into my ear, I may really lose it.