Check-In: Quarantine Birthday Ophira Eisenberg and Jonathan Coulton discuss ways to zhuzh up a kid's fifth birthday while maintaining social distance. Who knew six-foot-tall stilt-walkers were in such high demand?

Check-In: Quarantine Birthday

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JONATHAN COULTON, BYLINE: Hi, everybody. This is Jonathan Coulton from ASK ME ANOTHER. I am just about to call your favorite host and mine, Ophira Eisenberg - see if she's around to do a show.




COULTON: Hi, Ophira. How are you?

EISENBERG: Pretty good. It was just my kid's 5th birthday party.

COULTON: Oh, happy birthday.

EISENBERG: Thank you. And you know what? I got really into, you know, what can we do during this time to have a little birthday thing? So I decided upon the outdoor - go to a playground, an outdoor playground...


EISENBERG: ...Go to an outdoor park. And it was going to be very low key. But I still decided on one fancy thing that a 5-year-old wouldn't appreciate. But to me, it was, to quote Simon Doonan, a way to zhuzh (ph) it up.

COULTON: Oh, yeah. Sure.

EISENBERG: I bought expensive cupcakes. I called up a bakery and said, I want superhero cupcakes.


EISENBERG: All different superheroes because he love superheroes.


EISENBERG: Give me a bunch of fancy cupcakes. You know, I was just trying to create as much as I could out of the little we have.


EISENBERG: So I kept thinking of ways - I was - you know, at the last minute, I was like, oh, is there any sort of entertainment that would be kid friendly, that would be socially distanced? And you know what? I came up with it - stilt walker. I was like...

COULTON: (Laughter).

EISENBERG: ...Can I hire a stilt walker? Maybe they juggle. It doesn't even matter. They just have to be on stilts 6 feet in the air. That is socially distanced. Like, you know, you can't go up...

COULTON: That's right. They can get as close as they want because they're 6 feet in the air. Of course, they're 6 feet away. Look at their feet.

EISENBERG: That's right because everyone forgets - 6 feet. Which way do you have to go? Sideways? No.

COULTON: Doesn't matter.

EISENBERG: You can go up.

COULTON: (Laughter) So did you get a stilt walker?

EISENBERG: No. I - so I was like, this is brilliant. And then I have a friend who actually, you know, works with a lot of circus performers. He gave me two numbers. I left messages for those people - both of them booked.

COULTON: (Laughter).

EISENBERG: Not available.

COULTON: It's like everybody already had that idea.

EISENBERG: (Laughter) Yeah. So no stilt walker. I was like, it's just going to be a couple friends in the playground and some fancy cupcakes.

COULTON: At least we have these cupcakes.

EISENBERG: And I think, like, OK, we should get to these cupcakes. My husband had brought the cupcakes from the car. I had a cooler with some bottles of water, if people wanted. And then the cupcakes were on top of that. And...

COULTON: Oh, no.

EISENBERG: And he, I guess, didn't understand how, you know, cupcakes work.

COULTON: (Laughter) That is a criticism that you would only level against a spouse.

EISENBERG: (Laughter).

COULTON: I guess he forgot how cupcakes work. That's a classic (laughter).

EISENBERG: And so I go to look at the cupcakes, and, of course, they've all bounced up and down in the cooler.

COULTON: Oh, no.

EISENBERG: And they are a mess.

COULTON: Oh, no (laughter).

EISENBERG: There is...

COULTON: Do they even look like superheroes anymore?

EISENBERG: I mean, they look like superheroes that have been through a battle. I guess...


EISENBERG: There's been - the superheroes have gone through a narrative arc in their journey that day.

COULTON: Yeah. It's just like the end of "The Avengers" movies. Yeah. But I would imagine the kids didn't care, right? Kids are like, it's cake.

EISENBERG: Yeah. That is the redemptive part (laughter) of all of this. They saw me opening up a thing that had sugary confections in it. As soon as, like, one kid ate one, I was like - like, the problem is gone as soon as you eat it.

COULTON: Oh. Well, there you go. Yeah.

EISENBERG: I ate three myself.


COULTON: Sure. Yeah. I mean, three cupcakes - I guess that's impressive. Listen. I...

EISENBERG: (Laughter).

COULTON: To be honest, this morning, I had five cupcakes. And there wasn't even a birthday party happening. And, actually, I am - I'm just looking at my watch. I'm due for another cupcake. So I'll tell you what. Why don't I do the theme? And we'll get the show started. And then while you're talking, I'll eat my sixth cupcake.

EISENBERG: All right. I'll move on to my fourth (laughter).

COULTON: OK, here we go.


COULTON: From NPR and WNYC, coming to you from our respective homes in beautiful Brooklyn, N.Y., it's NPR's hour of puzzles, word games and cupcakes, ASK ME ANOTHER. I'm Jonathan Coulton. Now here is your host, Ophira Eisenberg.

EISENBERG: Thanks, Jonathan.


EISENBERG: So to paraphrase Justin Timberlake as Sean Parker in "The Social Network," as I do, one famous person named Sarah isn't cool. You know what's cool? Two famous people named Sarah. That's right. Today, we have comedian Sarah Silverman and actor Sarah Paulson. And speaking of social networks, our first two contestants are influencers with millions of followers, OK? So let's play some games.


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