Happy Birthday, Apollo Fonzarelli!

Posted on April 19, 2011


Happy birthday to kid #2, The Fonz, who turns seven today!

Why do I call him The Fonz?

When he was born I filled out two applications for a birth certificate; the first form I showed my wife contained the name we had agreed upon; the second form, the one I didn’t show her, and the one I actually submitted, contained a middle name we had not agreed upon: Apollo Fonzarelli.

Apollo was for Apollo Creed from Rocky and also sounded close to my name, Paul.  And of course Fonzarelli, came from the Happy Days king of cool.  Together Apollo Creed and Arthur Fonzarelli would serve as pop culture father figures my son could turn to for guidance in case I wasn’t there for him while being distracted by pop culture.

Eventually my wife learned the truth when she needed the birth certificate for our son’s passport application, and she opened my document box despite my repeated warnings that the opener of the box would be plagued by an ancient Aztec curse.  I’m sure she would have loved the name and agreed it suited our son perfectly under normal circumstances, but unfortunately the Aztec curse she brought upon herself was the inability to admit when a name was awesome.

Some highlights from The Fonz’s birthday party.  (By the way, the Saturday post about the Tiny Birthday Tyrant was not written about my son.  Our party was very simple and inexpensive.  To ensure we didn’t spoil anybody, instead of sending the kids home with a party bag, we sent them off with a mild case of food poisoning.)

We did a treasure hunt, and when my wife told the kids they would have to determine the clues by using their brains, one seven year old shouted to the rest with complete sincerity, “I’ve got a brain!”

While completing a puzzle that would reveal letters and spell out the location of the next clue, the kids got as far as, Go to a place _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _and spent a lengthy period discussing whether “Go to a place…” was enough information to go on while some adult voices suggested trying to figure out the rest of the missing letters.

Seven year olds have a very short memory, and I was able to use the same joke on every guest multiples times: greeting them by my son’s name and wishing them a happy birthday.  I was getting a great reaction from the audience and felt pretty good about my joke set, but my enthusiasm faded when I heard the laughter they gave to one boy’s “this apple juice container is my new best friend” routine.  I won’t try and compete with that!  I’m not a prop comic!  You can’t change the rules in the middle of the game.

My wife and I are both busy, but she still finds time to do the little things that make me love her, like creating a purposely confusing invitation.  The invitation was in the shape of a 7, but when you open the invite the party details use the number 8 in a misleading way, “It would be Gr8 if you helped celebr8 The Fonz’s birthday.”  We received multiple questions about whether he was turning 7 or 8 and each time my wife and I looked at each with a straight face and fumbled for words as though we weren’t sure.  Great job, honey!

Kudos to my wife for tightening up the treasure hunt activity she used two years ago for our oldest son’s birthday.  At that time she underestimated the slow rate at which a group of seven year olds walk, especially on a hot day, and the whole activity lasted over two hours before cutting it short.  I was the real victim because I waited at the final treasure location with the treasure, six ice cream cones, which had completely melted all over my hands by the time they arrived forty-five minutes later than expected.

I taught the kids a game called, “Whoosh, Boing, Zap,” where you can either make a “whoosh” motion and sound to your immediate neighbor, a “boing” motion and sound to bounce a sound back, or a “zap” to anyone in the circle.  This game is perfect for finding out who your son will choose to zap repeatedly and is obviously in love with, and as it turns out, who every other boy was in love with.  The Fonz has some competition.  Good thing he’s quick on the zap.

My son misspoke once, another kid corrected him, and my son replied, “I hate my mind.  It always announces words wrong.”

One kid asked, “Does Santa drink beer from a teacup?”  Before answering, I asked what had brought on that question, and apparently it stemmed from some confusion over the clues in the treasure hunt, and he thought this was the question they were supposed to answer.  And the answer, kids, is yes. Santa drinks beer from a teacup, and he drinks tea from a beer bong.

One boy was trying to open a candy sucker and struggled for a few minutes to get it open.  Another boy said, “Let me open that.  It’s easy!”  He grabbed the sucker, tried to open it, and literally one second later said, “No it’s not.”

Here’s something to remember: if a kid asks you to help him open a piece of candy, there’s a pretty good chance he’s already tried to open it with his mouth.

As my son opened each person’s gift, he was asked to offer one wish for them.  To the first gift giver he said, “I wish for you two birthdays this year.”  To the second he said, “I wish for you three birthdays this year.”  As the pattern continued, each kid began remarking about how they wanted their present to be opened as late as possible to ensure the most wishes.  The tension kept rising, and my oldest son looked on in envy as these extra birthdays were being rewarded in exchange for presents, and he said, “Makes me wish I’d gotten him something.”

In all sincerity, happy birthday to my boy.  I hope other kids laugh at your jokes.  I hope the cute girl in your class says hi to you and you think of something cool to say in reply.  I hope you feel you have my full attention and am truly listening when you give me a scene-by-scene description of Kung Fu Panda that lasts longer than the movie.

A father is supposed to automatically love his kids, but I feel very lucky to have two sons I like and enjoy spending time with.   Apollo Fonzarelli, if I were seven years old and wasn’t your dad, you’d still be the kid I’d choose first for kickball and sit next to at lunch.
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Posted in: Columns, Kids