The Obama ‘Hoff Inebriation Scale: A novel assessment tool for drunken behaviour.

It’s been a while between blog posts.  Again.  I suppose that’s what happens when you’re spending most of your time riding the intense single parenting train, and the remainder of it trying to be a grown up with a career and a social life.

But something got me giggling recently, in a very non-health-professional, snort-laughing kind of way.  And you’ll be pleased to hear that it has nothing to do with Pete Bloody Evans.

Last Saturday night was a big one on the social calendar.  The grade 3 parent mixer for my kids’ school.  It was going to be wall-to-wall couples, but I’ve known these people for four years now, and they’re a pretty cool bunch.  So I did what any self-respecting, awkwardly single parent would do – I took a deep breath, poured myself into my favourite supportive undergarments, put on my I’m Doing Better Than Okay face, and hit the scene.

Being a school event, it was local.  Meaning that most of us were within stumbling distance to our front doors.  And being parents, the feeling in the room was a mixture of exhaustion, and unbridled joy, to be out and kid-free on a Saturday night.

It started out nice: convivial, catching up on kids, jobs, holidays.  And then it got a bit rowdy.  And then there was dancing.  And then, all of a sudden, there were a lot of rather inebriated people in the room.  Parents – most of us in our forties and beyond – and yet it was like we were transported back in time.  Back to a time when it was de rigueur to get good and sozzled.  To hug and exclaim ‘I bloody love you!’ on the streets, and (inexplicably) to drink Bailey’s on the one-train-stop journey home.  Hilarious.

A friend, to whom I was relating the evening’s festivities, asked me this question:

So on a scale of 1 to David Hasselhoff,  just how inebriated were you?

I guffawed!  Because we’re all familiar with David Hasselhoff at his slurring worst.  And because as a health professional, I’m a sucker for a quantitative assessment tool. Entertainingly, we set about fleshing out this scale, and filling the gaps in between.

So without further ado, I give you The Obama ‘Hoff inebriation scale*.  It’s a thing now – I’ve registered it.  Please feel free to use it in your day-to-day practice.

Obama, bit drunk

Obama is after your first drink or two.  It’s nice.  A bit cheeky. You’ve got that happy buzz going on, and you’re working the room.  It’s a good place to be.

Tom Cruise, Oprah, couch

Tom is that excited, energetic zone.  You know the one.

Are you a bit drunk? Nah – you’re just invincible.  You spontaneously hug people.  You might fist pump the air.  And  (in my personal experience) this is where you might start pulling out some dance moves. You’re on fire.  The room loves you!

Tobey Maguire drunk

The Tobey is where things start to get a bit silly. Funny faces. Impersonations. Gossip. Poking fun. Giggling. You’re hilarious, and so are your friends.

Bill Murray, drunk

Ah Bill!  Who wouldn’t love Bill?

At this stage you’re getting pretty loose.  Silliness is peaking.  Coordination may be a little lacking, but it’s funny.  EVERYTHING IS FUNNY!  In fact if we all just stayed here at number 4, the world would be a pretty happy place.

Pam Anderson, Simon Cowell, Paris Hilton

It has to be a Pam / Simon / Paris montage for the half way mark.  Because at this stage you’re cutting up rough.

You might be Pam (the body is willing but the eyes are getting sleepy), you might be Simon (of course you should take a traveller for the trip home), or you might be Paris (surely no-one will notice if you take a little rest while you’re down there?).

Number 5 is where costume malfunctions start to happen, and it’s only a matter of time before you lose your footing.  It’s the ‘I bloody love youse all’ mark, but the dignity is slipping.

Britney Spears drunk

Oh dear.  When you’ve reached the Britney stage, you’re not fooling anyone (even if you’ve convinced yourself that you’re making a good fist of it).  The smile isn’t quite getting there, and the eyes are unseeing.  Best get yourself home – it’s all downhill from here.

Keifer Sutherland drunk moments

Okay, Keifer’s gotten himself good and drunk.

He’s bypassed the sleepy stage and gone straight to rowdy and inappropriate. Clothing is optional, and apparently pants-off at the table is pretty amusing.  He’s also fallen down for a bit there, but he’s not out for the count.

If you get to Keifer, you’re not going to remember a lot of the night’s proceedings.  And you may wake up without your pants.  Fun at the time, but in retrospect, not really advisable.

Gary Busey, drunk

Yikes! Gary’s not in a good way.  He’s dishevelled.  He’s finding it a challenge to keep upright.  His face says it all really.

DRUNK.  And a bit surly.

Courtney Love, wasted

Oh Courtney.  Can I get you a stretcher?

This is about as drunk as you can get without going the Full ‘Hoff.  Mouth open, eyes clocked off for the night, pasty, sweaty, highly vomitous.  There’s nothing pretty about getting to this stage.  She’s wasted.

David Hasselhoff, drunk

David Hasselhoff – AKA The Full ‘Hoff – is a sad state of affairs, I think you’ll agree.

He’s on the floor, eating with his hands, down to one syllable words.  All dignity is gone.

The only redeeming feature about getting this drunk is that you’ll have no recollection of the event.  Although if your kids are around and handy with the phone camera, it may just come back to haunt you.

Nobody ever means to go The Full ‘Hoff.  But sadly, it sometimes happens.


*Disclaimer.  Obama to ‘Hoff is not a scientifically valid assessment tool. And I’m not saying that drinking to excess is classy, or clever … but maybe it’s a bit funny when celebrities do it…

Weird Science

It really has been a while between blogs.   I know this because quite a few people have been asking me how my blogging is going (ie. they have noticed that it’s not going).  And my stock-standard answer is to blame the silly season, which appears to to kick off earlier every year.

In 2013, I managed to convince myself by the last week of November that Christmas was imminent, and that I had already failed miserably on the planning and shopping front.  And as I do most years, I promptly started waking up at 3am with a compulsion to write lists.

Is it marketing?  Well it doesn’t help when Christmas decorations and ads start to appear during October.  I certainly hold partially responsible those infuriating people who finish their Christmas shopping during November, and then feel the need to announce it on social media (you know the ones).  But I also feel that life just gets incrementally busier for me every year.

And so, in logical sequence, I decided that we would throw a Mad Scientist themed party at home in December for my almost seven-year old daughter.   You’ve heard the saying: if you want something done, ask a busy person!

Well I would like to declare, in hindsight, that if I’m the busy person you’re asking, best think again.  It appears that I’m not one of those people who thrives on being ridiculously busy.  Allow me to illustrate the case in point:

A few weeks ago, for my daughter’s school lunch Christmas party, I presented her with a selection of left-over jubes on a disposable plate.

I was so exhausted and creatively stunted by the relentless party planning and final execution the day before, that a plate of jubes was about all I could muster.  It was technically admissible, being a sweet (L-Z were to bring a sweet food), and being arranged into thirds according to colour (her class was to present their plate in 1/3’s fraction).  Way to go mum.  Really out of the box.

I think a little part of me died that day, as I pulled the car to a halt outside school, hastily rearranged the jumbled up jubes, gave her a squeeze and propelled her toward the gate. There was no way I was walking her into class with that sorry offering.

So why the elaborate, at-home, science-themed birthday party?

We naively gave over the choice of party to my daughter (I even encouraged the home party, in the deluded thinking that it may save money), and were quite chuffed when she chose the gender-neutral theme of ‘science’.  I was quietly overjoyed at the absence of fairies and princesses, and the fact that she wanted to invite a few boys from her class.  I didn’t quite appreciate that it would take on a life of its own.

Just Google ‘science party’, and you’ll see what I mean.

This is the point where I diverged from what my husband, my daughter and her friends would have found acceptable, and elevated things to the next level.  I began trawling the internet nightly for protective eyewear, petri dishes and test tubes.  I drifted off to sleep at night dreaming about child-sized lab coats.

All I can suggest is that I was overcome by a kind of party-force, fuelled by equal parts pent-up creativity, a tendency for perfectionism and the egging on from a close friend who moonlights as a party planner.  The perfect storm.

Needless to say, my husband wasn’t overcome in quite the same fashion.  His exasperated expression, evident whenever I gently enquired regarding his progress with the name badges said: What are you on about?!  We’ll set off a few Coke geysers sing happy birthday, and then they’ll all eat some cake and go home.  I believe I was also told not to ‘overthink’ things.  Humph.

So as you can imagine, by the time the party day came around, there was a fair amount of angst in the household.  Particularly so when, an hour before kickoff, my husband decided that tipping the kids entire Lego collection onto the lounge room floor and building an electric circuit that would light a bulb, should take precedence over helping me set up the actual party and experiments outside.  You can possibly imagine the look on my face (which would be quite amusing now in retrospect), and the choice words muttered under my breath, as I literally raced around the house, running sheet in hand.

But if I fast-forward to present day, post party, post Christmas, I am overjoyed to report that:

  1. Despite the urge to do so, I did not rip my running sheet into shreds and insert them forcibly into any of my husband’s orifices.
  2. We’re still married, and
  3. The kids had an awesome time.

And so, I thought I’d take the time to chronicle the bits that went swimmingly, the bits that totally tanked, and some shortcuts for anyone else out there looking to throw a science party.

And yes, okay, I am also writing this to boast about my newly discovered party planning skills and MAD NOVELTY CAKE BAKING SKILLS.  Indulge me – I’m still harbouring post-party delusions of grandeur.1461109_10152109717889265_1648075115_n

Now let me tell you about science party paraphernalia.

With the benefit of hindsight, I can tell you that one size fits all disposable lab coats are not made for seven year-old children.  Amusingly, it turns out that ‘one size fits all’ equates to XXL, and when we opened the package and my daughter tried one on, it was simultaneously panic-inducing and hilarious.

After another week and many fruitless internet searches, I happened upon the idea of creating lab coats from oversized white t-shirts, simply cut down the middle.  Thank you blogiverse, and unknown science-party blogger.  A few clicks and a few days later, I was safely in possession of a box of ‘lab coats’.

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During the earlier stages of planning (before my husband had decided I’d gone quite loco) he created these uber-cool name tags, based around the periodic table.  Did we blatantly rip off the idea from the Breaking Bad credits?  Yes we did.  But children don’t watch Breaking Bad, so no copy write problems there.


And seeing as we were going down the Breaking Bad road, I couldn’t resist this Jesse-inspired t-shirt, for the Daddy-turned-science-party-facilitator.


We used the same name tags on the zippy pouch party bags (discovered during one of my many $2 shop hit-and-runs), and filled them each with a note-pad and pen, goggles, test tube lollies, popping candy and rock sugar candy (which did look worryingly like elicit street drugs).   Photo 15-12-2013 2 52 34 am988797_10152109718159265_1772079339_n (1)

On the lunch menu were mini frankfurts in specimen cups, petri jellies, fruit molecules and jelly-cream beakers.  1506773_10152109717459265_1290934904_n Photo 15-12-2013 2 52 26 am

Less photographically impressive, but none-the-less well received were the party-girl’s specific requests: party pies and sausage rolls.  Apparently it is not a party without these items.

Do you like how I used a Sharpie on clear disposable plastic cups to create the mock beakers for the jelly cream concoctions?  I could claim artistic ingenuity, but in fact I unashamedly stole the idea from this excellent science party blog post.


And yes, more than one party attendant did point out their lack of uniformity in the scale department – who would have thought seven year-olds would be such sticklers for accuracy?

When you’re going to so much trouble for a party, I’d highly recommend asking someone to be there just to take photos of all your hard work.  In my case, my lovely friend Dawn, from Ruby May Designs not only helped arrange the party table, she also captured the details you see here, while I was quietly hyperventilating out of sight somewhere.

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And now you’ve seen all the glossy photos, lets delve into the science party action and activities.  Especially the bits that didn’t quite go as planned.

Psychedelic milk.

I gleaned this idea from someone much more together than me, and practiced it before-hand with great success.  You can read her post, which provides detailed instructions and has fantastic photos of the colourful milk swirls that we were supposed to discover.  I would, however, like to add one small but salient point, which we discovered on the party day.

When you give 20 excitable children a bowl of milk, food colouring and a jar of cotton buds, their first instinct is (of course) to stir the colour in using the cotton buds.  In fact, even if you tell them NOT to stir it in, they will anyway.  They cannot physically restrain themselves from stirring the colour in.

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In retrospect, I would have had an adult demonstrate the process before allowing the children within a foot of the experiment table.  Then, if they still decided to stir in the frigging food dye, I could have said I told you so.

I don’t have many photos of our failed psychedelic milk experiment .  But if you would like to envision the scene, there were a lot of confused-looking children dressed in cute lab coats, and quite a few bowls of grey milk.

No problems.  We moved right along.

Mentos and Coke Geyser

Cue ‘Yeah Science’ Dad with a packet of Mentos and a 2L bottle of Pepsi Max.  He was quickly surrounded by 20 screaming children (I think at this stage they were screaming for Mentos, which I find odd, considering the amount of lollies in close proximity, which they could have helped themselves to at any time).   Using the purpose-made geyser tube I had picked up during my late-night internet trawling, he created a rather impressive fountain of foaming science-stuff, and was instantly elevated to Cool Dad status.

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Film canister rockets

These babies were a huge hit with the party-goers.  A friend gave me the hot tip – that I could get as many film canisters as I wanted, free from a local Photo processing shop. You add 1/2 Alka Seltzer tablet, a few teaspoons of water, quickly snap the lid on, invert the canister, and stand clear.P1070930


Elephant toothpaste

There are lots more impressive posts about this experiment, such as this one here.  Using a combination of yeast, warm water, hydrogen peroxide, dish detergent, and food dye (here we go again) you can produce foamy stuff which (apparently) resembles elephant’s toothpaste.

In this case, due to the potentially toxic nature of the hydrogen peroxide, and with the hindsight of the failed milk experiment, we decided use smaller groups of children with a significantly greater amount of supervision.


I’ll skip to the chase, and report that after much phaffing about with gloves and funnels, and a few tense moments, we did create some rather impressive elephant-toothpaste-like foam. Photo 15-12-2013 4 00 40 amPhoto 15-12-2013 4 02 58 am

Can you see the vivid hue of our experiment foam here?  Well that was exactly the colour of the children’s hands after they played with the foam.  Sorry parents, your child appears to be turning into a Smurf, starting at the hands.

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As is the way with childrens’ parties, everything took longer than expected, and quite a few of the planned activities never actually came to fruition.  We couldn’t be bothered in the end with the DIY lava lamps and lolly molecule making – by this stage the kids were happy to play with magnetic slime and magnets I purchased online.  They also enjoyed having a go at the Guinness World Record for number of seven year-olds to fit on a small round Springfree trampoline (at this point I realised that asking parents to sign a waiver upon dropping their child off may have been a good idea).P1070912

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The next thing to do was to sing happy birthday and cut the rather confronting creation you see below.  The brain cake.


Various terms used to describe it include ‘disgusting’, ‘gruesome’ and ‘revolting’.  For those who could get past the presentation and eat a slice, it was surprisingly tasty.

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If you’re interested in the detailed dirt on creating the brain cake, you can read my version here.

The children then commandeered the studio, transforming it into an underage rave for 20 screaming, sugar-fuelled children.  Yeah Science Dad became DJ daddy, who begrudgingly succumbed to the demands for Katy Perry and One Direction.  Interspersed with a science quiz and a few more rockets and Diet Coke geysers, that was pretty much a wrap.

In conclusion, I’d like to share the following observations:

  • Seven year-olds scream a lot when they’re excited.  In fact, the greater the numbers present, the louder the screaming and the higher the pitch.  We have concluded that in party terms, screaming is generally a good sign (given there have been no serious injuries of course).  Conversely, if all is quiet, it may mean that you have a boring party on your hands.
  • Twenty is rather a ridiculous number of guests to invite to a 7th birthday party, especially in the absence of any official party entertainer-type person.  And although such a party may guarantee your child a good month of popularity amongst their school friends, this should be weighed up against the potential strain on one’s marriage.
  • If you are lucky enough to have family to help, do rope your relatives into heating and serving the food.  This will ensure that the children actually get fed, as you run from one interrupted task to the next, in the manner of a strung out wedding planner.

But before signing off, I have one more thing to report.  Just a few days ago, while I was writing this post, my friend texted me some pretty awesome news.  When reviewing the year that was 2013, her son reported that the best thing that year had been…..

‘India’s science party’.  Bless him.

I’ll leave you with that thought, until my next party chronicle, which should be expected sometime in the vicinity of December, 2022, when I have recovered.