Sure, I’m no stranger to the Brazilian birthday party. I’ve documented my experiences and even hosted a couple of my own.
But as on Day 70 of my challenge, I attended my first true Brazilian birthday party of the year, at an infantil buffet no less, I decided to approach it different. I decided to approach it like a Brazilian.
First, we are usually never late for the birthday parties. It pains me to be late for anything and although I usually try and arrive late to Brazilian birthday parties, without fail we are always one of the first guests (30 minutes after the stated party time is NOT late in Brazil). This means I sit around with the grandmother waiting for things to get started.
But last night we arrived two hours after the scheduled start time. I must say, this is the perfect time to arrive. One can only take so much buzzing, lights flashing and kids screaming. We missed nothing. My daughter had more than an adequate amount of time to climb and run around and dance. And eat crap. Which leads me to my second tactic to be Brazilian…
Mostly, I avoid Brazilian birthday party food. It consists of mini hot dogs and a collection of fried surprises which I am rarely willing to risk. Sometimes, like last night, they will pass around a bowl of pasta, or if you are lucky, a small salad. On the rare occasion they might offer a carbohydrate high dinner buffet, but after hours of birthday party noise and awkward struggles to have conversations in Portuguese that I mostly can’t hear, we are in a cab as soon as the cake is cut. But the usual scene is that of employees of the buffet walking around with deep fried finger food or hot dogs/popcorn in bags.
However, last night I made an effort to indulge in whatever came my way. I ate a mini hot dog, plus other infantil buffet delicacies that I didn’t recognize.
I even ate Brigadeiro.
What I did that was inconsistent with the actions of a Brazilian woman at these events is I drank beer.
How you cannot offer cocktails to parents as a means to make it through the party is beyond me. At my parties, there were always a few bottles of wine (or stronger) hanging around, which many of both the American and Brazilian moms partook in. But the general rule of thumb is that there is beer for the dads and soda for the moms. While I’m not a huge beer fan, I’m even less of a soda fan, and neither soda nor water takes the edge of the experience.
So was the Brazilian approach better? The arrival time was much better. The act of eating buffet appetizers was not. I still had those awkward conversations attempted in Portuguese over the sound of screaming children and video games, as well as those awkward conversations even in English (I really think, as a culture, the Brazilians don’t get my sense of humor). But my daughter had fun and we spent a Saturday night together, which of course, offsets any of the inconveniences.