Jesse Tise

THIS WEEKEND, I attended a four-year-old’s birthday party, which ordinarily wouldn’t be strange since I have a child. However, my child lives with his mother on weekends, leaving me to attend certain children’s festivities sans child. Fortunately, I’m not too creepy, and being a queer person of color (or QPOC, for the PC hip-hop fans) means my presence brings an air of progressive credibility to any SE Portland affair. To my surprise and delight, all the upwardly mobile professionals seemed at ease, while their multilingual children—who no doubt attend toddler yoga, rather than gym class, with its stifling focus on strength training and athleticism—ran amok singing French folk songs.

Now, lest I’m accused of reverse classism, I have no doubt about these children and their yoga practice, because it was explained to me in some depth by their instructor (also in attendance, also sans child... but unlike myself, a little creepy). He was everything one might expect from a French immersion school yoga instructor. He was white, bearded, and shoeless, with a meticulously coiffed bun—complete with flowing shirt and North Face track pants. He was perfect, in all the ways a man who sleeps with your work-from-home spouse ought to be. Every choreographed bow assures that he sleeps with men and women alike, but takes offense at the term bisexual, preferring some other label that only has meaning to those who have been subjected to a lengthy explanation.

Then the announcement: “THE MAGIC SHOW IS ABOUT TO START!”

The magician was a tall, slender chap I could easily imagine doing absolutely anything else, poised to perform for all le petite garçons et filles. Even I, master curmudgeon that I am, could not deny his skill. The tricks were all standard fare, of course, but each slight of hand was perfectly executed to the delight of parents and children alike. His most impressive trick was getting a basement full of child snowflakes to sit down and be quiet, if not silent, “for the magic to work.” Throughout the spectacle, a menagerie was implied, but ultimately never supplied—allusions made of mice, doves, and rabbits. But alas, this is Portland. Gone are the days of malnourished creatures held in tiny boxes, anxiously awaiting le prestige before running out of oxygen. No. This performance would feature not one toothless tiger.

As an entertainer myself, I have no attention span for anything but free food and liquor, and this party delivered. The Bloody Mary bar was bar none, featuring pickles, celery, jalapenos, pepperoncini, Castelvetrano olives, and cocktail onions, with an orange juice option for those driving the screws to scurvy. The bagels, too, were top notch in vegan, gluten free, and Sunday morning alcoholic varieties. Available toppings included a variety of homemade schmears, capers, hummus, and salmon lox.

Overall, I would score this party 10/10—docked one point for inviting the Great White Yogi, but earning it back, because no one cornered me into an awkward conversation about race. 

Daniel Martin Austin is a writer, stand-up comedian, and host of the podcast Your Fault for Listening.