The morning of my fifth birthday was one of sheer excitement. After waking early and having already had the birthday breakfast and presents, all that was left to do was to wait until midday when around twenty-two five-year-olds would arrive for my party, the theme of which was, quite simply, pink. The colour pink had, in some form or another, already covered the house. From the pink balloons tied to the letterbox, to the pink streamers flying down the hallway, to the pink party table outside, soon to be covered in piles, of what would likely be, pink-wrapped presents.
The girls arrive dressed in various pink costumes. A collection of five-year-old fairies and princesses head out into the garden, picking up paper cups of fizzy drink on the way. Outside, games like ‘pass the parcel’ are held, presents are opened, and pink wafers and cupcakes are eaten, until the announcement is made.
“Now girls, we have a special visitor for you.” My mother calls out to us all. Twenty-two pairs of eyes turn, looking towards the hallway in anticipation, and small, breathless squeals emerge. The Pink Panther strolls into our garden. Bigger in real life, but just as pink and furry as I had imagined, all those mornings when I watched him in the cartoons.
“Now where’s the birthday girl?” Fingers all point in my direction. He walks over and starts talking to me. But I notice that the Pink Panther has a zip down his side. And a voice that’s very familiar. And on his feet are the same sneakers that sit by our front door every morning. That is not the Pink Panther.
The Pink Panther stops his talking, and turns his furry head and plastic eyes to look down at me.