Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Seven months in the making: A surprise for Ron


(I apologize in advance for how long this is. I completely acknowledge that my life is not fascinating and it's bizarre that I would believe that anyone would want to read this.)

At the beginning of March, I proposed an idea to my mother-in-law that I had been thinking about all of February: Ron turns thirty this year, so why not do a surprise party?

Luckily, it took little persuading to get Joanne on board, but that's when the hard part set in: Once the idea is out there, you can't talk about it. With anyone.  Except one other person on the whole planet.  And that's really, really hard for a girl who can't shut up to save her life.

After I came home from my first secret meeting with Joanne (Ron thought I was "at Target," so I bought myself a three hour secret meeting time slot right there), I needed Ron to give me a date for the party.  I'm guessing other people could just pick a date and then trick their spouses into showing up at the right time and place for a party.  But because of Ron's bizarro professional calendar, I knew he would have to give me a date and then everything would go from there.  It has to be said that I am the worst liar on the face of the planet, an even worse actress, and I have the most transparent face in the history of the universe.  That alone should have discouraged me from embarking on any of this.

With my heart in my throat and my stomach sinking to the floor, I asked him, "Can you give me a date in the fall that we can save for your birthday?"

R: "What kind of date?"
Me: "What do you mean?"
R: "Do you want a weekend or a weekday?"
Me: "Weekend."
R: "Yeah, sure. That's easy."
Me: "No, it's not."
R: "Yes: It is."
Me: "NO: It's NOT. Aren't you working night shift for at least two weeks in the fall?  Aren't you flying to at least thirty different places between now and the end of the year?"
R: "Oh, right."
Me: "So, YOU give ME a date."
R: [clicking through his calendar] "Ok, so does it have to be my birthday week, because I think I have to go to the midwest that week ... or maybe it's the week after ...? ummm ..."
Me: "What about October?"
R: "I can do October 21 or October 28."
Me: "Ok, so there's something ... uhhhh ... that I want to buy tickets for [*this is where the hives start breaking out on my neck because I'm such an awful liar and I'm sure he knows it*], and I'm going to use one of these two dates you just gave me, and once I buy the tickets and pick the date THAT IS IT.  YOU CANNOT WORK THAT DAY.  YOU TELL YOUR BOSS THAT YOU CANNOT GET ON A PLANE AND FLY ANYWHERE THAT DAY OR THE DAY BEFORE.  YOU CANNOT BE ON CALL THAT DAY.  YOU CANNOT RESPOND TO YOUR PAGER THAT DAY. YOU CANNOT BE RESPONSIBLE FOR ANYTHING PROFESSIONAL THAT DAY. THAT DAY IS BLACKED OUT. IT'S MY DAY WITH YOU. AM I CLEAR??"
R: "Yeah. That's fine."

Yes, I do know how to get someone excited for his birthday.

For the record, all of my frantic admonishments for saving the date were justified six weeks later when Ron received a phone call after dinner on (what happened to be) Holy Thursday demanding that he get a plane the next day on Good Friday and then troubleshoot a problem in a far flung land all of Easter weekend.  A disgruntled Ron landed in Philly early Easter Monday muttering, "At least I made some overtime.  At least, I think I made some overtime, right?"

Once I threatened him with death itself for questioning October 21 on his calendar, it was time to start planning.  I called up the same place where Ron and I were married, and we batted around ideas for a cocktail party.  That part was easy, but it was agonizing to keep my mouth shut about everything until Labor Day weekend when I finally mailed out the invites.

(Ron later asked, "You mailed invitations for this?? When??" Me: "Remember you weren't home the whole month of August?" R: "Ohhhh!!!!")


Of course, not even the invites were a small ordeal since I had to hack into two different email accounts to get the contact info for his friends at work.  To be fair, "hack" is an overstatement considering the accessibility of Ron's entire life on his barely supervised iPad, but whatever.  I felt like some crazy smart hacker.

As the day approached, Joanne and I worked out our entire story in preparation for his questions.  Really, on the day I demanded a date from him I just assumed Ron knew that "buying tickets for something" equaled "I'm throwing you a surprise party." I thought the whole thing was over before it had begun.

Four days before The Day, Ron asked, "Are we doing anything this weekend?"  I had braced myself for an entire month to answer this question.  The voice in my head starts yelling at me, "C'MON YOU LOUD MOUTH!  GET IT RIGHT! DON'T BLOW IT NOW!"  (This is the same voice that gently guided me through twenty three years of school. And people wonder why I'm slightly damaged?)  I carefully repeated my script: "Well, I don't have any plans on Friday, and Saturday I'm going to Kelley's Halloween party with Leslie, and I talked to your mom and we're doing a big family dinner for you.  Your sister is coming in from New York, and your mom is calling your aunts and cousins.  That's what we're doing on Sunday."

"Ok."

I went off to bed convinced I had ruined it.

Sunday came and I worked hard on not being a total train wreck.  Joanne had spent the weekend frantically working behind the scenes making sure the restaurant had everything it needed from us.  I spent the weekend frantically working to appear "normal" (which, let's face it, is always frantic to some degree).  I went for a run. I did my nails.  I pulled apart the entire bedroom and dusted everything and even washed and rehung the curtains because I didn't know what to do with myself.  Since I notoriously run late for everything, I had to somehow trick Ron into not realizing that I was actually running on time for our "5:30 dinner reservation."

Finally we're in the car. Finally we're driving there. Finally for once in my life, I am on time for something.  I continue with my script: This time I'm "frantically texting Leslie" and venting to Ron, "Why does she think I can help her with this right now?!  She knows I'm on my way to dinner with you!"  Really, I am texting my mom, sister, and Joanne and telling them which roads we're on so they know how close we are.

At this point, I am convinced that there is no surprise. I am convinced that Ron knows everything and is just too nice to ruin it for me.  I am convinced that he's carefully checking out each car in the parking lot as we pull in. (Turns out, he was just looking to see if we beat his parents or not.)

I was wrong.  He was pretty shocked.

Ron's lipstick courtesy of his mom.
Holy crap. We did it.

And so did 44 other people.


My mom was telling me, "Get out of there and let Ron have a picture with his friends!" But I was so keyed up I didn't hear her for another ten minutes.  Also, please note that I am wearing four inch heels in this photo.  Even if I was standing up straight, I am barely the height of a third grader.  Really? I thought I had to stoop down in front of Sean?
Heads up for my next post: Can you see the baby bumps?

Nearly every woman in the room wore animal print.  That's Joanne on the left--couldn't have pulled this off without her!

Ron and I both got to see cousins who we don't see often enough.
I officially can join the ranks of Tiff here for tricking my unsuspecting spouse!
One of the last minute projects that Joanne and I worked on were the photo collages of Ron's pictures.  (You can see one behind Tiff, above.)  Again, last Friday I told Ron I was "at Target" and that's why I was three hours late coming home from school.  Really, I was at Joanne's house going through pictures with her.

Blurry because they're pictures of pictures taken with my phone.

Legend has it that Ron stamped his feet and hid in his mom's closet the morning this portrait was taken.  He hated his red outfit that badly.


Ron in his junior prom tux with his grandfather.  He took some Undeserving Senior Girl Who Shall Remain Nameless to the dance even though I was the last girl in the entire grade left standing without a date.  I have made it clear that he will remain unforgiven for that one.



At first, I wasn't so sure that Ron was telling the truth when he swore he was surprised.  After the last family member had left, Ron and I returned to the now empty bar and collapsed onto bar stools.  Finally, I could tell him all the funny stuff that had happened during the planning that I couldn't tell him all those months before.  We compared all of our notes and I learned exactly how many times I really had tricked him.  Turns out, he was really surprised.

The next morning he was so eerily quiet that I began to wonder if I had slightly traumatized him.  I have to admit, I was surprised to be disappointed that the anticipation was over.  Monday morning had a distinct December 26th kind of vibe.  He opened all of his cards and gifts and just collapsed on the couch.  (Thank you, all you kind people, who bought him so much booze.  We are officially ready to serve you all on Christmas Eve.  HA!)

"Really? All of these people who I see all the time knew about this?  And no one ruined it?  How did you do it again?"

omg, do you really want to know?

Thank you thank you thank you to all of you who came; to those of you who took pictures so I didn't have to; to those of you who drove some serious mileage to be there and to be there early; to those of you who never said a word; to all 44 of you who made it a capital-P Party.

Thank you thank you thank you.  All of you are The Best.

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