event object that references the object you bound to. So, if you give
#menuItem1 a click handler, that’s what the event object will refer to.
console.log(event.target); // <div id="menuItem1"></div>
event object also references the parent (and the parent’s parent, and the parent’s parent’s parent, et cetera…). In your case, that parent will always be the same thing since you’re looking at a menu entry in a menubar. But what if that item had been generated dynamically from an AJAX call? The parent isn’t necessarily something you’ve already defined in your code, so you might have to reference it based on what the user clicks.
Another point about what’s defined in code, picking out DOM elements can be an expensive operation. If you’re going to reference the same object more than once, it’s best to cache that reference for use later.
var $menuItem1 = $('#menuItem1');
parent() on the element you’ve already got in memory.
As for forum formatting, make use of the backtick (`) key. In US keyboards, it’s just to the left of the 1 in the top row. See this post for details.