Saturday, February 15, 2014

Surprise Party Hassle!

“Surprise party: Can be successful only through actions of lying, lowdown bottom feeders!"

    Do you know when Freeman’s birthday is? I don’t either. I’ve got a bunch of birth dates in my mind, some of people I don’t even like. But Freeman’s? It’s near the end of January. That’s as much as I can tell you.

    There’s just something about the end of January that clouds my mind. I think it has to do with the near-end of football season. I get so down at that time that birthdays don’t even register.

Do you have any idea how many times I’ve had to be reminded of Freeman’s birthday? Every one of ‘em. Virginia usually brings it up a week or two ahead of time. She occasionally gives me hints, but most times she just out and out tells me.

 That’s absolutely crazy, ‘cause I like Freeman. I depend on Freeman. I want him on that wall! I need him on that wall! -- I have to move some furniture? -- “Hello, Freeman, when can you get over here?”

Car won’t start? “Hey, Freeman? I need to see you, your truck and your jumper cables, right about now.”

Free is always there. That’s pretty much why I went along with Virginia’s harebrain idea to throw him a surprise party this year. That and the fact that I couldn’t talk her out of it. 

Virginia knows that I don’t like to be involved in surprises, be they parties or practical jokes. I’d rather be the guy in charge of setting up the tent for a traveling circus than helping plan a surprise party.

It’s just weird how God-fearing people -- people who go to church, read their Bibles and give the impression of being nice -- become lowdown, lying, bottom feeders once they get involved in a surprise party.

The problem with Freeman’s party planning came from the fact that both Freeman and Virginia are retired. Retired couples can spend way too much time together. They share phone calls and e-mails, and they interrupt each other a lot. Stories that I used to be able to almost follow become a tangled mess of unfinished sentences. – “No, no! It was Friday. Remember, we just came out of H.E.B. and I forgot to get bananas…”

Not a whole lot of space in a sentence-finishing relationship, however it was in that footing that Virginia had the bright idea to surprise Freeman on his birthday. On the plus side was the fact that the only way Virginia could pull it off was to delegate most of the responsibilities.

How do you tell someone what to do when the birthday boy is with your constantly? This is where the devil comes in. Through lies, subterfuge and the occasional word spoken in a sneeze, Virginia managed to ask Kay to take care of the birthday cake. She also told her the restaurant she picked for the party site. I wasn’t privy to the call, ‘cause I give Kay her space. It’s not that I don’t care about her phone conversations, it’s just that— Second thought, that is why. 

Unfortunately, two days later Virginia gets me on the phone. Again, Freeman is just a few feet away from her, By the end of the 30 minute conversation Virginia managed to instruct me to be at the restaurant 30 minutes before the party so I could greet people as they entered. In doing so she used a code that, had the Germans developed it, could’ve won the last big war for them.

The only way I could cipher the mess was to ask her “Yes and No” questions. -- “Is Freeman the stray dog in your story? Okay, then is he the jelly jar?”  When I finally broke the code, I told her how much I hated to greet people at restaurants, and that she knew I hated to greet people. In her response she mentioned something about playing a violin.

As if that wasn’t enough, she called the afternoon of the party to check to see if everything was in order. She referred to the cake as a shirt that she said I had been looking for at JC Penney. I figured it was a code ‘cause I hadn’t been shirt buying since back in August.

As soon as I caught on, I told her that the shirt was white with chocolate icing, and that Kay made it and decorated it and that she made me another shirt that was sugar free. Then I begged her to not make me show up 30 minutes ahead of time to greet people. She answered with a story about a she bear mauling a hiker in Alaska. A she bear?

All in all, the party turned out super. Everyone showed up. Of course, the greeter guy was a complete ignoramus. I messed up on names and went around greeting people who weren’t even there for the party. Some were pleasantly surprised and some irately surprised.

After all the smoke cleared and the waitresses began to clean up around us, I got Free to the side and asked if he was really surprised about the party. He said, “Naw. People have been acting too weird on the phone.” And, there you have it. -- Give me a circus tent any day.


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