March 24, 2013 by drandmrso
Yesterday I accomplished another of my 101 things to do in the next 1001 days. I threw a surprise party for my wonderful husband! The best part: he really didn’t have any idea it was coming. A recap of the last week and a half (which is more or less a recap of how stressed I was about not spilling the beans):
Thursday, March 14th
I find out that Dr. O officially will be free the weekend of his birthday. It’s go time.
Friday, March 15th
In the morning, I call one of the local bowling alleys to reserve some lanes. Then I send out an email to all of the residents in Dr. O’s program. I use a clever, discreet subject line just in case he were to happen across someone’s open inbox. Of course, I make sure to inform everyone that Dr. O was on the bowling team in high school and therefore has his own ball and shoes. The appropriate response: what a nerd!
I also email several of his friends that live in other (somewhat nearby) cities and his siblings in the hopes they can make it on short notice.
Monday, March 18th
RSVP’s start coming in. It looks like it’s going to be a good turnout! I start planting the seed with the surprise-ee that we should go on a date on Saturday night.
Wednesday, March 20th
After a late dinner, Dr. O is perusing the internet. He recently learned about a fire-sale type website from his friend T that sells camping equipment. Excitedly, he asks me about ordering a camping hammock that is on sale.
I should step back for a moment: I have an incredibly poor record when it comes to keeping my gifts secret from Dr. O. He somehow always figures them out. This year, for his birthday, I went way back to something he mentioned only in passing on our honeymoon last year: a camping hammock. It was nicely wrapped and sitting on the counter at the time when he posed the question about buying one.
So how do I coyly discourage him from ordering the one he had just discovered online? I freeze like a freaking deer in headlights. He gives me a weird look and asks if I’m morally opposed to hammocks for some reason. I say no and then try to nonchalantly suggest that maybe he should wait until after his birthday to buy anything. He realizes that a camping hammock is in the nicely wrapped package sitting on the counter.
At this point in our relationship he’s come to learn how hard I try to actually maintain some secrecy around his gifts. He feels terrible for accidentally discovering it and I make a big deal about how he always figures it out and how I could never keep a secret from him, yadda yadda. It was an unfortunate incident, but it plays right into my hand.
Thursday, March 21st
Dr. O’s actual birthday! I go to my book club meeting in the evening and ask Dr. O to text me on his way home from the hospital so that I can cut the meeting short and spend the evening with him. I even have cake ready and waiting! Sadly, the hours pass, and the meeting is over and I’m back home long before Dr. O. He rolls in about 10:30pm, devours a piece of cake, opens his unsurprising camping hammock, and crawls into bed.
Friday, March 22nd
I finalize details with the bowling alley and send out the updated plan to everyone that had RSVP’d. Essentially, everyone was supposed to be at the bowling alley at 5:45. I would bring Dr. O in at 6:00, who would be under the assumption that he and I were simply going on a bowling date (which isn’t all that unusual–as I mentioned he’s actually a very good bowler. I, on the other hand, have a life dream of bowling my weight…). Everyone would yell surprise when we arrived and we’d have a ball! Forgive the pun, please.
Saturday, March 23rd
The big day has arrived! Fortunately (for me) Dr. O has to round on the patients on his service on Saturday mornings so I know I have at least a couple of hours to get the last-minute tasks done. I head to the gym in the morning, then over to the party supply store to get some balloons which I intend to drop off at the bowling alley so that everyone would know which lanes were meant for the party. All is going well until I’m a mile from the bowling alley and a loud BANG sounds from the back of my car. The balloons had popped. With no time to return all the way to the party store, I make an executive decision to ditch the balloons. The majority of the people coming to the party are doctors, for heavens’ sake–they can figure out which lane to go to.
Dr. O arrives home about 12:30. I casually remind him that we are going on a bowling date that evening and I suggest that we go out to dinner afterward as well. He agrees, but says that I have to pick the spot. Perfect! I tell him that it will be a surprise, but that we have to be there at a certain time, so we have to go bowling no later than 6:00. My plot is progressing beautifully.
But, as with any suspenseful tale, a wrinkle emerges. About 3:30, he informs me that he’s going to the gym with A. Now, A is in on the surprise, and he’s planning to attend, so I know that he won’t let Dr. O stay too long, but of course I still worry about the timing–especially since my husband has a tendency to spend a long time at the gym when he gets the chance because he so rarely does get the chance right now. I remind him–probably too assertively–that he needs to be home by 5:30 so that we can go bowling at 6:00.
5:30 rolls around and Dr. O is home and just about ready to depart. I’m a nervous wreck. I am pacing in the kitchen, trying to steady my hands, continuously reminding myself to play it cool.
At 5:55 we’re in the car, a couple miles from the bowling alley when Dr. O decides to call his parents to thank them for the present they had sent in the mail. This could not have been a more perfect decision. It conveniently solves two issues for me: the first being that I am rambling like an idiot about whatever crosses my mind because I am failing at playing it cool. The second being that I have excuse for why we are going to walk right by the check-in desk to the reserved lanes. But, since Dr. O is kind of oblivious to other things when he’s on the phone, I simply lead the way and he follows right behind me all the way to the last lanes where 20 or so people jump out from behind the bowling ball racks and yell SURPRISE!
Dr. O is stunned. He hangs up on his parents (sorry about that!) and looks at me in amazement. I, meanwhile, am totally giddy–the pressure is off, everyone had kept the secret, and now it was just time to have fun!
The evening was an absolute blast. There was pizza and beer and pop music and Dr. O got to show off his bowling skills. Everyone kept thanking me for planning, but really I need to say a huge thank you to all of them for playing along with the secret-keeping and giving Dr. O a very, very memorable birthday. And for finally allowing me to prove once and for all that I can, in fact, keep a gift secret.