Wednesday, April 21, 2004

This last weekend was my wife's birthday and, uncharacteristically, I decided to plan a surprise party for her. Although she's a clever gal, I thought I could pull it off. I have established a precedent of low-effort birthday celebrations for many years now. This tidily sets my wife's expectations nice and loooooow. Plus, I can lie fairly carefully and effectively when I have to.

What I had not anticipated, however, was how poorly I think on my feet. I present the following three bits of evidence. Behold my idiocy:

1) I rented a video projector for the party and was in the process of hiding the various cases of paraphenalia that came with it when my wife arrived home early and saw the projector case in the trunk of the car.

"What's that equipment in the trunk?" she asked? She didn't refer to it as "that thing", or "the big crate", she recognized it as some sort of equipment. It did have sort of an Audio Visual air about it.

"Huh?", I replied, buying time, my mind racing for an appropriate cover story.

"The equipment in the trunk. What's it for?"

At this point, I sprang into action. I slammed the trunk shut.

"Don't look in the trunk!!" I squeaked, "Or under the guest bed!!!!".

2) After contemplating the trunk fiasco, I decided that the equipment was a dead giveaway for the party. Equipment means event. And what kind of event occurs right around a major birthday? That would be a surprise party. I called one of my assistants, specifically my Chief Officer of Surprise Party Deception, telling her about the breach in surprisiness. With her help, I constructed a story about how my wife's sister, who is an artsy performer-type gal, wanted to do a presentation for my wife's birthday. The equipment was for her presentation and was supposed to be a surprise. I was going to urge my wife to hush up about the equipment and let her sister pretend to surprise her. It was a credible story.

Later that evening, I pulled my wife aside.

"Ok, you saw the equipment. Jig's up. Here's what's going on..." I started

"No!" she squawked, "No jig! Jig not up!"

"Look," I said, "You know something is up. Let me fill you in..."

"No! I don't want to know! Why do I have to know?!?!"

I was stymied. She obviously realized this was related to her birthday and wanted the surprise more than the knowledge of what was going on. The little minx wasn't going to let me deliver my cover story

"But! But! I don't want you to.... I mean, it would be best for your sister, if you pretended not to know!" I insisted. That was it. I got in the word sister.

"Ok, I won't say anything to her," she replied.

That was really as far I got in that lie. I managed to gurgle something about her sister. Frankly, this was probably about as good as it was going to get, but still I couldn't believe that I wasn't even able to tell my lie.

3) Day of the party. The last bit of trickery involved actually getting my wife to the restaurant where the party was at the appropriate time. My Chief Officer of Surprise Party Deception took her out for lunch, shopping, and pedicures. Then, at the appropriate time, I called the wife on her cell phone and excitedly told her about a dining room table that I just saw. You see, we've been looking for a dining room table since the last century. I knew that she'd be motivated to see such a thing. I explained that I had just walked past our neighborhood furniture store (coincidentally, right next door to party!), and saw this new table in the window. The store was closing soon and she needed to come down right away and see it. Obviously, there really was no table.

"What does it look like?" she asked.

This was the home stretch. I was not going to be deterred by her interrogation. I had contemplated this question in advance. "It looks nice! It's rectangular and modern looking, so it'll go in our space nicely. It has some nice inlays that match our floor." I thought the word "inlay" was a nice touch.

"Well, what style is it?" she asked, "Is it trestle-style?"

I had no idea what a trestle was. No biggie though. "Look, you know I don't know dining room jargon. Just come see it. It's nice. They're closing soon. Hurry."

"Hmmph" she said exasperatedly. "Well, how many legs does it have? Four?"

"Yes! Four legs!" Zing! I'm rolling!

"Four? That's no good!" She exclaimed. "You know that won't work with our bench. People will bang their legs getting in and out. We need a pedestal style table."

Doh! Oh man. I can't believe I biffed that. Who knew that "four legs" would be the wrong answer for a freakin' table? I hurriedly calculated whether I could change my answer. I raced through the following possibilities:

- "Oh. I looked again. No. Not four legs. One. Just one."
- "Oh, look! There's another table next to it! It's a pedestal! Come see that one instead"

None of those seemed realistic so I just reiterated that it was really really nice and she should hurry. Thankfully, with my Chief Officer of Surprise Party Deception simultaneously telling her that it was about time to finish up anyway, she agreed to come see the table.

Amazingly enough, after all these screw-ups, we really did get to surprise her.

Happy Birthday, sweetie.

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