How to Enjoy a Debacle

As the saying goes, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.* We’ve all had it happen; an event you’ve been planning and anticipating, through no fault of your own, just goes horribly, horribly wrong. 

This past weekend it was my birthday. We have been planning what I affectionately dubbed “SaraB’s Birthdaypalooza” since January. People were flying in from out of town, we were going to get tattoos, there was even going to be a bouncy castle. Like I said, we had plans. Mr.B and his crew were going to set up the party while my friends and I got tattooed, we would all meet up at the house and party till the cows came home. Simple enough, right?

The first inkling of trouble was when we found out that half of my in-town friends, the ones I really wanted to meet my out of town friends, were themselves going to be out of town that weekend. It was sad, but not a huge deal. Then we we found out that half of Mr.B’s set-up crew were unavailable that day. This was a bit more of a blow, but we were still undeterred. Birthdaypalooza WAS going to happen.

The day dawned bright and beautiful, everything seemed on track, hopes were high. I went to the hotel to pick up the tattoo crew and head down to the shop. We had been talking and e-mailing with the people there so we had appointments, they had an idea of what we wanted to do, and in some cases the actual artwork had been e-mailed to the artist beforehand. The shop has a good reputation in town, so we were surprised to get there and find that they were almost entirely unprepared for us. Our appointments were all with the same artist, which we did not realize when we were making them. We only had a five hour window of time, and three tattoos in five hours meant that he was going to have to work fast if we were going to make it to the party on time. We talked out what we were going to do and he told us to come back in an hour so he could get ready. We all went and had a very nice lunch, but when we got back to the shop nothing was ready. We sat around for another hour and saw very little progress. At this point, it was obvious that we could not all get our tattoos and still make the party. Since I was the only one who lived here, and could come back another day, I was the logical choice to drop out of the queue. It was a pretty big disappointment, but I did it.

I decided to drown my sorrows by going to the local knitting shop to look for some new fancy yarn. I got mightily lost trying to find the shop, and I managed to get there one minute after they closed. No fancy yarn for me. I got lost again on the way back to the tattoo shop. When I got there, there was still no progress on our tattoos. At this point, I made eye contact with one of my friends and we both just said “Today sucks!”

Downhearted, we came up with a plan that would get some people tattooed without me actually missing my own birthday party. I would take two ladies back to the hotel, so one of them could get her car, they would go back to wait on the tattoo-ees and I could caravan with everyone else back to my house for the party.

On the way back to the hotel, Mr.B called and I got the story of his day.

The day that had dawned bright and clear was also hot. I think the heat index was 104℉. Mr.B had to change clothes half a dozen times because of the sweat-factor. The two helpers he had were the two people with the least experience setting up an outdoor party. He kept forgetting to hydrate. He had called to tell me not to hurry because the downpour had left ten inches of standing water in our driveway and they had just had to throw all the lights and sound equipment into the garage.

As he’s telling me about this massive rainstorm, I’m driving through Atlanta looking at a vast expanse of cloudless blue sky. I realize that it is, almost literally, only raining on my house. Right before my party. The one that has been in the works since January.

There comes a point, when things are going wrong, that you realize the situation is officially a debacle. This was that point. I now had three choices; I could stress out for the rest of the night trying to get things back on track, I could throw a screaming tantrum (which briefly crossed my mind), or I could let go and ride the wave of absurdity to see where it would take me. I chose option #3 and just started to laugh. I was no longer lost in Atlanta, my air conditioning was going at full blast, and I had no more worries. By the time we tripped a circuit breaker, leaving me stuck half in/half out of a deflated bouncy castle, I was having a blast yelling “Go on without me! Save yourselves! Somebody take a picture of this!” It probably helped that the margarita machine we had rented worked perfectly and we had a plethora of yummy frozen beverages.

In the end, my friends and I ate, drank and made merry. I believe the party was a success and fun was had by all. The fact is, when you get a group of awesome people together, it doesn’t matter if everything is perfect. You will find a way to have a good time and, if nothing else, you will have some fantastic stories to tell later on. All you have to do is ride that wave, and possibly drink a margarita.


When you have a whole army of Jessica Fletchers, how can you not have fun?

*The actual quote from Robbie Burns is “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men aft gang agley” which I really wish I could say properly. If I could, I would find a way to work it into conversation daily.

By [E]SaraB

Glass artisan by day, blogger by night (and sometimes vice versa). SaraB has three kids, three pets, one husband and a bizarre sense of humor. Her glass pendants can be found at if you're interested in checking it out.

23 replies on “How to Enjoy a Debacle”

Firstly, happy birthday!

Secondly, I needed this. I am absolutely a type A/planner extraordinaire (in fact, it’s kiiiiiinda my day job) and I have a really hard time just rolling with the punches. Sometimes, like at work, my high strung, overly focused on detail stuff is needed and I can FIX things and we all win. The problem is that it’s really hard to drop that routine when I’m just having fun with my friends and my highly structured plans go awry.

In other words, I need to remember sometimes to just yell, “Go on without me! Save yourselves! Somebody take a picture of this!”

In case anyone thinks she’s exaggerating, the rain cloud was quite literally directly over her house and maaaaaaybe the surrounding quarter-mile radius. That’s it. We were driving, it was sunny, then BAM! Rain! And then 8 seconds later, we pulled into the driveway.

HOWEVER, never underestimate what good food, a margarita machine, a bouncy house (when not taken over by teenagers), gourmet popsicles, and kick-ass people can do to make a seemingly dire situation into a phenomenal party. So much fun. So many frozen drinks. Amazingly, every time I accidentally told a child that the green side of the machine was for kids (wrong, PoM, green is for grown-ups), there was a responsible sober adult present to correct me and make sure that everything in the kids’ cups was red.

Uh, I, um, made that up. I definitely did not tell someone’s Mini that the green side was for kids only to have someone (Sally J, maybe?) rush to correct me and pour out of the red side for them. Never happened.

And is there a picture of you emerging from the deflated bouncy house? I think Mr. Sally J might have one. I was busy trying to convince mini-you that the house was not, in fact, trying to eat her.

The first summer my boyfriend and I were dating, we were going to throw a pizza party at his apartment so that I could meet all of his friends! I, being the obsessive person I am, decided that I was going to make all of the crusts from scratch beforehand in order to be ‘impressive’, not realizing that a 22year old college dude was not going to have everything I was going to need. I was carless and using a spare key that often didn’t work in the lock.

After 2 trips to the grocery store in the July heat, walking about a kilometre each way loaded down with bags, getting myself locked out of the apartment and dealing with the creepy super, then finding a way to store premade crusts and rising dough in one tiny apartment kitchen, he came home to find me crying in bed about how everyone was going to hate me because I couldn’t do pizza right. He got into bed with me and played me this and in the end, the party was fine.

BWAHAHAHA. This is such a great, funny post.

(Especially the part about the little rain cloud only raining on your house — the way you described it, I saw this little cartoon image of this mini-cloudburst hovering over your roof. LOL)

Anyway, I salute your approach to making lemonade out of the lemons life has dealt you!

No, PMag ate my comment!

What I wanted to say was that it can be very frustrating because you had plans and they were going to be wonderful and how can the universe do this to you.
But it’s better to realize you can take your happy funk in a new direction and still have fun than drop into a sad funk (I’m trying to make funk happen).

Yep. Sometimes you just gotta go with it. My favourite examples: one night my friends and I once went sand-dune driving with two random men in rural Australia. All fun and games until their car got bogged down on the beach and everyone else had to spend two hours digging it out. Being injured at the time, I couldn’t, so I got to lie down on the beach and watch the Milky Way. Not the best way I wanted to see it, but hey.

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