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MTV’s “My Super Sweet 16” is clearly an adaptation of the birthday concept I personally created: It’s my fucking birthday so if I say you’re going to play your clarinet and attempt break dancing, that’s what you’re going to do. But I’ll let MTV take credit for the elephants and custom designer duds.
When I was in third grade, I decided that my birthday party had to be in the form of a talent show. Guests could choose from a limitless list of talents; all musical genres were fair game, and all dance moves were possibilities so long as they could fit on the mini “stage” in my basement.
I can see now how this party theme could have been interpreted as incredibly cruel. For those who fear the spotlight, an invitation announcing that a performance of some sort was the only ticket to a slice of cake and the highly anticipated goody bag—come on, why else did we ever go to parties? —is better left unopened.
Because it was my party, I didn’t stress over my indecision, I went with it. Unable to settle on one musical genre, I allowed myself two performances. I chose to explore two very different fields: show tunes, and pop hits, namely “My Favorite Things” from a true classic, The Sound of Music, and another one of my favorite things, the “Macarena.” Who needs a guest appearance by Rihanna when you can choreograph your own moves to Los del Rio and save valuable time by not having to wait for an Escalade to roll in fashionably late?
There were a surprisingly high number of standout performances considering I might have been the only party girl in favor of the theme. One friend who shared my love of Broadway sang “Castle on a Cloud” from Les Miserables. My basement stage may not have housed an elaborate set of barricades, nor were there huddled masses of peasants, but there is no doubt my friend gave Cosette a run for her money. Another extremely talented friend opened our eyes to Carnatic music. I also convinced a few friends to be my backup dancers for the “Macarena,” because that song should never be performed alone. In public. Or anywhere for that matter.
My love of talent shows only continued to grow after this party. I became that girl who performs epic ballads in the middle school talent show. Sixth grade was “The Wind Beneath My Wings.” Seventh Grade I paid tribute to the late Selena with her hit “Dreaming of You.” That one got pretty emotional. And Eighth grade was the year I attempted to out-belt Christina Aguilera by performing “Reflections” from Mulan. There were none of the candles and lily pads of the Disney music video, but I found my own way to call upon nature and tranquility. I wore an obnoxious, and bright red, animal print tube dress.
I never celebrated my birthday this year. Maybe it’s time to revisit an old theme… But this time I’m going to have to call in the big guns since MTV has been trying to steal my thunder for six seasons. Has anyone ever descended a grand staircase atop an AmeriGlide stair lift?