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Freddie Kaminski blows ten birthday candles out at the local Chuck E. Cheese, in front of a crowd of six that includes his older sister, Julie, and both of his parents. Despite no school absences from any classmates the day before, his parents spent the morning fielding numerous barely apologetic phone calls from other parents proclaiming the sudden onset of an illness, or some other unexpected circumstance, and thus an inability to attend.
Freddie thinks to himself, as he observes the continued surprise, disappointment, and worry of his family, that he had told them he did not want a party this year.