Saturday, February 26, 2011

Holy Paper Mache, Batman!

Ah, the piñata. What a wondrous tool of festiveness! Little is known about the origin of this formed paper of joy, so I will share what I have pieced together from meticulously studying the annals of time:
  • Vikings invented the piñata
  • They used it when they conquered China
  • The Chinese overcame the Vikings, but also start using the piñata
  • China invaded Greece, but were thwarted by Alexander the Great
  • The Macedonian Ass Kicker collects a Chinese stash of piñatas
  • Alexander takes the piñata to India on his failed campaign
  • India uses the piñata while invading Spain
  • Spain holds them off, but loves the piñata
  • Conquistadors use the piñata while riding horses and capturing Aztecs
And that brings us to present day. Because of all that history, we can understand why every White, Asian, Black, Indian, and Mexican kid grows up with piñatas at their birthday parties. It is the game that transcends all races.

For anyone that has never seen a piñata, it is a paper mache goody-bag that comes in shapes of drums, stars, superheroes, cartoon characters, animals, just about anything you can think of. This giant goody-bag is filled with candy then a rope is attached. The piñata is hung from anything that can be found - tree, ladder, banister, basketball hoop, etc. The fun begins when a bat and blindfold are added! Children are blind-folded like hostages then spun around until wobbly and vomiting is induced. They are then handed a bat while onlookers scream instructions: LEFT! RIGHT! LOWER! HIGHER! SWING! SWING! BEHIND YOU! SWING!

It is awesome fun.

My earliest birthday party memories are filled with piñatas. Like a gladiator that was forced to fight for his life, I was sent to be shamefully made fun of while drunken uncles and aunts yelled instructions at me in spanish. Great times. This is the Mexican right of passage where we show the world our battle instincts. The candy is used as bait. Back in my day, when the piñata broke and candy crashed to the floor, a mad rush of children dove onto the heap to collect their prize. Diving on to blacktop is dangerous enough, but when you have others diving at you head first and a kid swinging a bat wildly....well, that's where you separate the men from the boys.

Things have changed since then. I think kids are too soft nowadays. I remember drinking water from the hose when I was outside playing. Now we have little Johnny carrying around his bottle of EVIAN. A few weeks back, I took the kids to a party where a piñata was on display. I was ready for a rowdy bunch of kids to see who was king of the mountain! That did not happen. Instead, I saw these little kids get 1 swing each. When the piñata finally broke, the kids had to wait while the candy was collected and handed out. What Kind of Crap was this!?!?

During this fiasco, I was talking to one of the moms that also brought children to this so-called party. She then says "I'm surprised they don't have a sting piñata." I have no idea what she is talking about so I press her, "I have no idea what you are talking about." She goes on to explain that there are new piñatas where you don't swing a bat violently and the kids aren't blindfolded. Apparently in this sick and twisted take on America's past time, kids are given a single chance to go and pull a string from the bottom of the piñata. If it is the right one, it opens and candy falls. I assume that this has to be a White-People invention.

I call my foremost authority on all things Caucasian: Na'shell Oliveria. I ask Na'shell if she has heard of this ridiculousness that is parading around and pretending to be a piñata. I also asked if this was something that White People dreamed up to keep their kids mean "safe." In my mind, I am thinking that they have changed this and are now selling it to make themselves rich. Just how they changed tortillas to "wraps" and charge a premium.

I am flabbergasted as she explains that this was actually not a WP thing. Turns out all parents (White, Mexican, Asian, Indian, and Black) all want their kids to be safe. You can go the swapmeet/fleamarket and pick these up right next to the battle ready piñatas.

As I look back on my awesomeness, I am saddened to see that our days are winding down. Kids can't drink from the hose. Kids can't play outside till the lights come one. Kids can't be blindfolded then made dizzy and forced to swing like Hank Aaron while others laugh at them. Times are changing. In an effort to keep my past alive, we got the Champ a piñata for his birthday. I real piñata. It is over 4 feet tall and will take a Louisville slugger to crack. On that day, only the strong will survive.