Renowned author Alan Jacobs once wrote "Those who will never be fooled can never be delighted.” If that's true, then prepare to meet one of the most delighted saps ever to walk this planet – namely me.
It all started about six months before I turned fifty years old, when out of the blue I received an email from an old Dallas friend of mine, Molli, saying how much fun it would be if my husband and I could meet her and her hubby at their lake house. "Great idea!” I wrote back, "Let's do it!”
Step one was to come up with a date that suited everybody – no small feat considering that both our husbands traveled a great deal, we each had a full calendar of church and volunteer obligations, and between us we also had five kids (including one high schooler, two college students, one recent graduate and one newlywed) whose random, unpredictable schedules we seemed compelled to factor in. The only time that seemed to work for all four of us was Memorial weekend. True, that pushed our fun getaway out a few more months, but on the bright side I knew it would coincide with my birthday, and personally I couldn't think of a better way to spend this milestone occasion than in the company of these two longtime friends.
Step two involved travel arrangements, not so much for Molli and Gary, but for Marc and me simply because our agenda also had to include a plane trip from Miami to Dallas. No problem. I simply turned that task over to my husband, a virtual whiz-kid when it comes to booking flights (did I mention he travels a lot?)
Meanwhile, as Marc worked on securing airline reservations, Molli and I turned our attention to more important matters, such as choosing the menus for every meal, and trying to decide if we should buy our perishables before leaving town, or wait until we got to the lake. Over the course of the next several weeks the emails flew fast and furiously between us. Little did I know that mine was not the only computer humming with communication about the big event.
Memorial weekend was turning out to be a busy time for everyone in my whole family, or at least that's what I was told whenever the conversation led us in that direction. For instance, my older sister, Jeri, who has her own catering business, was already stressing about being over-booked with holiday orders. Son Jason would be attending a company retreat at a Texas resort. Our daughter and son-in-law had a similar work-related picnic and my younger sister was having a huge garage sale.
Not that it mattered. I was happily anticipating my own plans – that is of course, until they hit a snag. My husband, it seemed, had been totally unsuccessful in booking a flight. Suddenly our whole trip was in jeopardy. Then miraculously, just two days before our departure date, Marc announced that he'd found a last-minute airline special, so he grabbed it. Hot dog! The trip was back on!
Forty-eight hours later, on the very day I turned fifty, I found myself in the car with our daughter and her husband, who had kindly offered to drop us off at Molli and Gary's on their way to the picnic. We entered via the alley, so as to be handier to the garage for unloading our stuff, and I was pleased to see a couple of fishing poles leaning against a big igloo cooler. Wasn't that just like Molli to think of everything?
I bounced out of the car and knocked on the back door that led from the garage into Molli's house. Then I stepped inside…
No fewer than sixty people (including my son, my sisters and their families, my mom, my in-laws, and friends from all walks of my life) shouted "SURPRISE!!!” But it still took me a moment to catch on. Then I got it. All the emails, the supposed trip to the lake, everyone else's "other plans”, the incredible last-minute airfare, coming in through the alley so I wouldn't see a bunch of cars parked in front of the house, the fishing poles – they were all part of a brilliant, fiendish, elaborate, all-encompassing scheme cooked up months earlier by my clever, crafty, wonderful husband. And I had fallen for every last bit of it as the saying goes, "like an egg from a tall chicken!”
During the course of that fun-filled evening several people remarked at how gullible I'd been to believe all the lies and stories concocted all around me. Personally, I prefer to use the term "trusting”. In either case, I certainly was fooled, which is why I was able to be so very, very delighted!