My friend’s 40th birthday is next week. Because she likes things just so, she decided to pre-empt any sort of surprise by throwing herself a party. A large one with 70 guests. The party was last weekend at her house. My friend is Cuban, her husband is Honduran. And they are two of mine and my husband’s favorite people. Fun, funny, happy, and good people. They live down the street from us and have a son who is my daughter’s age (they go to elementary school together) and a daughter a few years younger. My daughter, with her blue eyes, fair skin and brown hair, is going to marry their dark eyed, dark skin and dark haired son. The two of them just don’t know it yet.

My friend embodies many of the Cuban stereotypes. When she is excited, which is frequently, she is known to speak with oversize hand gestures. (How do you get her to stop talking? Tie her hands behind her back!) She has dark skin, is about my height and has this long, very tightly curled black hair. I decided it would be fun to wear a wig to the party. One that looks like her hair. It wasn’t a costume party but I just thought that it would be fun. I went to the local costume store and found one. It was pretty good. When my husband came home from work that night, from far away, he didn’t know that it was me.

So, I wore it to the party. She screamed, and then laughed, when she saw me. People, that I see everyday, didn’t know it was me. We drank Mojitos and ate ropa vieja and fried plaintains. And, after a while, we passed the wig around the party and men (including my husband who looked like Weird Al Yankovic and my friend’s brother who is bald) and women wore it while dancing to a mix of Latin music and top 40 all played by a DJ in my friend’s backyard. We did a conga line around her pool and made our throats hurt by singing songs at the tops of our lungs. What a party.

And her birthday present. Another friend had the idea of giving her 40 gifts, some gag some not. So she and I each did some shopping (bottle of wine, hemorrhoid cream, vinyl shower cap, FDS), then met up to wrap all 40 gifts and create an order in which she was to open them. For example, put on #26 (granny panties) and you will need to use #27 (handcuffs) on your husband and you might need #28 (AstroGlide). The funniest thing is she opened it with her parents there and they were vying for some of the gifts. Her dad wanted the Efferdent and the denture box while her mom wanted the hemorrhoid cream and Ex-Lax. At least the gifts didn’t go to waste!

I got the pictures this morning in my email. They made me laugh out loud. I was laughing so hard that my stomach hurt. The birthday girl said that she had already looked at the pictures a million times and was laughing harder each time. My son, who had not left for school yet, looked at the pictures and told me I was a little crazy. Which is true. But he also knows the rest of the truth about his mom. Besides being a little wacky, I like to have a good time. I cherish my friendships. And I know that a sense of humor, and the ability to laugh at yourself, are two of the necessities of a happy life.