Pioneer Press - Local Section - Saturday, April 29, 2006

Pat Sukhum plans a little party tonight. It's for himself, and he's registered at Target.


Pat Sukhum, 32, seen here in his sister's Minneapolis art studio, has invited 225 people to his jobless, weddingless, babyless shower this evening at the same studio. His Target baby registry includes Chapstick, toilet paper and Coco Puffs cereal, plus one item over $10 - a 61-inch flat-screen TV.

Pioneer Press

Pat Sukhum has invited 225 people to his "Jobless, Weddingless, Babyless Shower" tonight. He's been best man in plenty of weddings and attended his share of wedding and baby showers. Now, it's his turn.

"I've got a great life," he says. "Just because I haven't gone through the life-changing events most people go through doesn't mean I don't have reason to celebrate."

His shower is an unserious idea the 32-year-old is taking seriously.

He's registered for gifts at Target, items single guys need — like Speedstick deodorant, pepperoni pizza rolls, Cocoa Puffs and Corn Pops cereal, SpaghettiOs, sour neon worm candies, a kite, tennis balls, Tide Liquid detergent, toilet paper and white undershirts.

Everything on the list costs $10 or less, except one item: a $5,000, 61-inch, flat-screen TV.

"You have to have one minor extravagance," he explains.

While Sukhum's party is a cheeky idea, personal celebrations are gaining ground.

"It's becoming a little bit of a trend, I think, because people are getting married later in life, and they are thinking that they've been the bridesmaid or groomsman for a lot of weddings," says Geri Wolf, whose company, The Style Laboratory, specializes in event design and planning. "They've been giving gifts for a lot of showers and they're thinking, 'Now, it's my turn.' They're doing the whole registry thing and throwing a party."

"It takes a different person to do this," she said. "They're usually people in their mid-30s to mid-40s, so he's a little young."

Because Target doesn't have a "Jobless, Weddingless, Babyless" category, Sukhum signed up for the baby registry, which allows users to include the name of the child. He's calling his baby "Wonton."

Some people may be put off by the idea of poking fun at traditional baby and wedding showers, but "most of the guests take it in fun — not very seriously," Wolf said. "The ones who take it seriously usually don't show up. It's not really their kind of party."

Sukhum did worry he might offend some of his friends with the invitation. Most of them are married and employed, after all.

"It's not about me," he says.

Well, maybe a little. …

"If you knew Pat, you would realize he's exactly where he wants to be," says longtime friend Craig Schlichting, 31, of Ham Lake, who is babyless but married and employed. "What we're celebrating is the fact that … he loves life."

He adds, "When you throw a party, Pat is the one guy you plan it around."

But Sukhum is more than just a party boy. He's a Carleton College graduate with an economics degree, an entrepreneur, a volunteer, an athlete and an actor.

"He is a master of self-deprecating humor, but at the same time, you can tell he is full of confidence and comfortable with himself," says friend Bill Nielsen, 32, of St. Paul.

Sukhum expects about 100 people at tonight's party. They include friends from Definity Health, the now-defunct company he and five friends founded as 20-somethings and later sold. Other invitees include teammates from the football, softball, soccer and volleyball city leagues he has participated in, along with childhood, college and theater friends from shows like "Awesome '80s Prom," in which Sukhum played a stereotypical Asian foreign exchange student at Hennepin Stages theater.

One of the guests of honor will be Derrick Pam, 17, Sukhum's Little Brother from the Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Twin Cities program, which named Sukhum "Big Brother of the Year" last year.

Sukhum's sister, Pam Sukhum, will provide the party venue — her art gallery and studio near Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis. Sukhum, who was born in St. Paul and grew up in northern Minnesota, also enjoys a close relationship with his parents, a cardiologist and a lawyer from Bangkok, Thailand.

Sukhum and a core group of friends have held other theme parties. There was the "Nerd Alert" party. It's a phrase Sukhum and some of his buddies shout out when one of them obsesses over figuring a restaurant tip to the penny, organizes photos alphabetically or boasts he's "MapQuested" his entire vacation ahead of time. Lots of people wore taped eyeglasses to that party, which ended with synchronized dance moves from the movie "Napoleon Dynamite."

They've also held an "Abercrombie" party that poked fun at the trendy clothing giant Abercrombie & Fitch. For that one, a white brick wall of his sister's art studio was decorated with a blown-up black-and-white picture of Sukhum and friends taken at a beach.

He has bought lollipop rings to give out and plans to serve at least some cocktails in baby bottles. He may print up a list of tips for job interviews and hand out business cards with his name and a fancy title for remaining unemployed. Friends have suggested songs related to weddings, babies and jobs: "Nine to Five," "Take This Job and Shove It," "The Chapel of Love" and "Baby, It's You."

"This party kind of sums him up," Nielsen says.

So does the outfit Sukhum plans to wear.

Envision him looking at you very directly through large, dark-framed spectacles that are geeky and chic. He's got on a finely woven, light blue cotton business shirt with a dark, well-tailored suit jacket and a silk tie in a spare, muted pattern.

He grins.

He's also wearing pajama pants in a pink-flamingo print with black, red and white fuzzy slippers.

Ellen Tomson can be reached at or 651-228-5455. (