A few years ago Hank turned 40. It was an occasion that compelled me to throw the only surprise party that I've ever had to organize.
This week I turned 40. Months ago my wife and I discussed what would be an appropriate celebration. She understood that I had no desire for a big party or a surprise of any kind. Instead, I wanted to gather my close local friends and go out for a nice dinner at one of my old favorite restaurants here in SF. Hank volunteered to undertake the organization of this event. The dinner was planned for this weekend.
Hank, of course, completely disregarded my wishes. Behind my back she planned a surprise. She contacted our friends months ago, hid credit card charges, faked confirmation calls from restaurants, and spent countless hours planning my surprise birthday.
The final bit of deception was to get me at the right location at the right time. What made this difficult was that the events began on Saturday morning and I ALWAYS go running on Saturday mornings. Hank crafted the solution with Pablo. So, a couple of weeks ago Pablo informed me that our friend Leonarda was going to have her photographs displayed in an art show. Pablo gave me a fake brochure about the art show and explained that the show, which was listed as occurring on May 17th, was in an unusual location. I realized that I needed to move my Saturday run and go support Leonarda.
So, that's why on Saturday morning this weekend, I was wandering around the San Francisco airport with my family in tow, looking for Leonarda's art show. Various friends of mine watched me from hidden locations, as I "helped" Hank and Daisy scour the airport for the mythical art exhibit. We asked the guy at the information booth, peered into the closed museum, and generally scratched our heads.
After about 10 minutes of this, Hank took pity on me. She asked Daisy if she had anything to say to me.
"Uh, daddy, there's, um, kind of no art show here," Daisy began, clearing her throat and stammering so as to extend my confusion, "Instead, we're going to Vegas."
I'm not sure exactly how many seconds it took me to figure out that Daisy was saying something significant and not speaking the potential nonsense of an eight year-old. Someone handed me a boarding pass. I was stunned.
There was, of course, no art show. Hank had packed our bags earlier in the week and given them to Liz and Larry to check in for us. Our flight to Vegas was leaving in about an hour. Liz and Larry were coming along and were bringing their nanny to help watch the kids.
Pablo appeared soon thereafter, along with Jay and Laila. Leonarda wasn't far behind and even Scott made his way to Vegas to help me celebrate my 40th year.
We spent about 24 hours in Vegas and I had a tremendous time. We stayed at Treasure Island, had a delicious meal at Japonais, saw the immensely enjoyable Beatles LOVE Cirque du Soleil show, and hunkered down at the blackjack table for several hours of cards, banter, and booze. It was awesome.
I can't believe Hank (with the help of many others) pulled this off. Several times during the last few weeks I sat down and contemplated whether Hank was trying to hide some sort of surprise. Each time I reviewed the evidence and concluded with certainty that there was no surprise. There was no way. I thought that MAYBE she invited more people to the dinner than I had specified, but I knew that she knew that I had hated the logistics of large groups. It didn't occur to me that she'd take my invite list and just move the party to Vegas.
I'm still a little stunned, but I'm grateful for my creative, thoughtful, and generous family and friends. I've never been so pleased to have my wishes ignored.