Feeling a little left out ...

Staff WriterJanuary 15, 2009 

There is no dog on the premises at my little place, so I can't say the dog ate it. The mail service is very reliable -- I'm confident it was not lost in the mail. So it hurts.

After all, I was in residence in the old neighborhood for over 40 years, beginning at a time when the phrase "inside the Beltline" didn't exist and no one could have foreseen that the street would one day become, as they say, "tony." Still, you'd like to think that the folks in your old 'hood (the homestead was sold in 2005) haven't written you off, that you might be on the invite list if someone were having a party or there was a new baby or something.

Sigh ...

Alas, there's a big happening on the old street next week, a birthday festivity that's apparently going to be quite the fancy soiree, even if it does come with an admission price. And one wonders whether there are others, former or even current neighbors, who will figuratively have their noses pressed against the door or try to comfort one another at their exclusion.

The event is a birthday reception for Gov. Beverly Perdue, who turned 62 yesterday, on a street just down from my old homestead. It is not called a birthday dinner, so I am assuming we are talking about snacks instead of filet or fried chicken and the like. "Reception" is sort of code for, "Eat before you come and please respect the two-cup limit on the lime-ice punch." The sponsor is listed as the Democratic Party.

And to think the Democrats have always billed themselves as the "big tent" of politics, speaking out for common folks, standing up for the little guy, etc. One just hopes it doesn't rain on all those who can't get under the tent next week. And it's supposed to be cold, too.

The invitation says one can be a "host" for $10,000, a "sponsor" for $5,000, a "patron" for $2,500, a "supporter" for $1,000 or a "friend" for $500.

Now, this prompts some questions -- interpret them as merely a sign of bitterness from one of the not-beautiful people if you wish -- as to what exactly the difference is in terms of the benefits one would receive at those different levels of payment. After all, if a "friend" is going to belly up to the same snack table as a "sponsor," then what's the point of a social upgrade?

Or do the sponsors get the hot snacks and the wine with actual corks in the bottle, while the friends are allowed only Fritos and onion dip (a fine treat, don't get me wrong) along with a Fresca? Does "supporter" move one up to salsa and Doritos? Does a "patron's" check mean one enjoys all the benefits of supporterhood and friendship along with a complimentary party hat?

It just seems to me that it would be tough to keep all these people from mingling, and then you've blown the whole purpose of different levels of contributors. Would the "sponsors" complain, "Look, I'm a sponsor, and I didn't figure on having to hang around with all these 'friends,' and the unnatural fibers in their clothing are starting to make me sneeze. Plus, a couple of them admit their dogs are not AKC registered."

OK, OK. Maybe this is a little extreme. Perhaps the best response (no, not revenge) is to show how a proper party for the governor would be handled without charge. And so next Thursday, party night, at my new place on a nearby street, there will be an alternative Perdue birthday bash. And quite an event it is going to be. We'll have sharp cheese melted on Harvest Wheat crackers (a name brand) with bacon bits on some and little onion rings on others.

Goldfish crackers will be liberally distributed throughout the apartment, along with mixed nuts, all in actual China bowls, not Chinet. I have some homemade brownies that are not even two weeks old, and they will be out for all to enjoy. There is a quart of French onion dip that was being saved for the Super Bowl, but what the heck, we'll shoot the works. Potato chips? Not just any potato chips, but the flavored kind in the can!

And just as our new governor -- a very down-to-earth person and not one to put on airs, by the way -- has promised to de-politicize a good bit of state government, the alternative bash will not require contributions to any political party and will be open to Republican as well as Democratic celebrants.

Now some already have accused me of striking out because of anger at having been excluded, and they say my fest will unfairly detract from the party in the old neighborhood. "Why," one asked, "would anyone go to any other birthday party when they know you've got Harvest Wheat crackers with melted sharp cheese on them?"

Deputy editorial page editor Jim Jenkins can be reached at 829-4513 or at

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