As I slaved away prepping my little girl’s third birthday party a few weeks ago – baking the cupcakes, buying the balloons, assembling the goody bags -I couldn’t help but wonder if I should tone it down a bit.

Would she even remember a single moment of this mega-party I was creating?

I scanned my brain for my very first memory.

I was about 3 years old. My little sister was sick, so my grandparents had agreed to keep me for the evening.

They took me to a restaurant. We sat in a half-circle booth – me in the middle – and Papa, a food lover, let me order whatever I wanted.

I don’t remember what I had, but I do remember clearly that he urged me to try some French dressing on my salad. It was sweet and tangy and as orange as a popsicle.

I felt special.

Interestingly enough, I grew up to become a person obsessed with restaurants. There’s nothing I love more than eating out. I even write about restaurants as part of my job.

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been polling friends about their first memories, and an interesting pattern has formed.

Most all of my friends’ earliest memories correspond with a dominant part of their grown-up personalities.

Pal and colleague Bonnie Bing, who is the paper’s resident fashionista, said her first memory is of a dress her mom made her – white with little bluebirds, puffy sleeves and a delicate collar.

My best friend Jaime, a seasoned traveler, first remembers a flight she took from New York to Florida.

My techie husband, Nick, said his earliest memory is of sitting in a tree listening to his dad’s handheld radio.

Travis, my gonzo photographer friend who covered the war in Iraq and who risks his neck weekly in pursuit of the perfect picture, remembers breaking his arm after falling off a tower he’d constructed of a table topped with a chair topped with another chair. He was trying to get to the Legos his mom had stashed on the top of the fridge.

All of my poll takers said their memories occurred at about age 3, so there’s hope that Little Girl will, indeed, remember her Toddler Party of the Century.

Of course, if my research holds up, it’s also possible that she’ll grow up to be – a professional partyer?


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