This past Friday was a very special day for my wife Andrea. It was her 50th birthday and I wanted to do something that she would never forget. If you know Andrea you know that she is not materialistic AT ALL. Yeah, I can buy her cars, clothes, jewelry etc and she would be appreciative but these are things and they don’t make her happy. You also would know that she is the type of woman that does not like to be the center of attention. She would rather be the person in the background making things happen. For as long as I’ve known her she has never really wanted a birthday party much less a surprise birthday party. So you know what I did? I decided to put together a surprise birthday party.
Doing something on the sneak tip is really a feat of its own. Andrea can sense something is up and she has this way of looking at you that will practically make you tell on yourself. It’s kinda like the look Arnold does on Dif’frent Strokes. She cocks her head a little to the side, looks you in the eyes and says, “Is there something going on I need to know about?” You will reply and then she stares in to your soul. Next thing you know you are the criminal on Law and Order blabbing all your damn secrets. She is that good. I had to figure out how to put together a party and she not know anything about it. So what’s the best way to keep a secret???? Don’t tell ANYONE BUT how do you get people to come to a party and not tell them about it so that they don’t get Arnold’d by Andrea??? Yeah, you see the paradox this is creating? SMH.
Andrea told me that she wanted to go to a Korean Restaurant in Alpharetta for her birthday dinner. The problem is trying to get a secret party set up at a restaurant that is 50 miles from the house was not going to happen. There are too many variables and I will get caught. I have to make an executive decision. I chose a restaurant near that house called the The Studio Café. This restaurant serves fine dinning foods such as lobster tails, Alaskan King Crab Legs, Prime Rib and a host of sides and salads but get this….IN A BUFFET ENVIRONMENT!!!! And the price????? $30 a plate including drinks. The catch is they are only open for dinner from 5:30 to 8:30 on Friday. They are not open for dinner any other day. Now I have to start inviting people but how?
I reached out to Andrea’s sister Trina. Trina will hold your secret to the grave as long as it is not illegal, unethical or immoral. I knew I would be able to confide in her. I told her I was putting together a surprise party for Andrea and want to invite people. I asked her to reach out to her Aunt Helen, cousins, nieces, nephews. I reached out to a few people via text and facebook messaging. I kept repeating the statement. DON’T TELL ANYONE. This is a surprise. One by one I got confirmations. The crazy thing is I can’t keep notes. I can’t keep text or facebook messages. We don’t keep secrets from each other. We can grab each others phones; jump on laptops so you know messages will be accidentally seen.
I get the initial list of people coming and call Erin at The Studio Café. I tell her 10 people are coming so far but I am expecting more. I go back to Trina and ask why certain people are not coming. She tells me and I respond with they HAVE to come. I am working on a super surprise and they are an integral part to this. She agrees to reconnect and finally we get the completed list. Again keep in mind I have no way of documenting who is coming so I tell Erin 24 people but there maybe more. She promises to keep a running list and sends me the contract. OK now we have Friday dinner set up.
I have another surprise to put in play. Andrea wants to go see the Falcons play at the new stadium so I make some calls and find that all games are sold out. I can get resale tickets but they are scattered about the stadium. This isn’t going to work. Option two; we will go to the fair in Perry Ga. I preorder 360 non refundable ride tickets for the fair and the week after the tickets arrive Sydney throws a monkey wrench in the plan. The school reschedules the homecoming dance to the same weekend as Andrea’s birthday weekend. ARRGHHH OK, option three. I don’t have an option three. I’m going to have to wing it. LOL.
The week before her birthday Trina calls me and tells me, “Andrea is upset with you. Andrea said, “Why is he taking me to The Studio Café? He knows I want to go to the Korean restaurant. He just wants to go there so he can get off his 21 day diet and eat. It’s MY birthday.” We are both hollering laughing. Trina takes Andrea to lunch and tells her, “I won’t see you for your birthday because I know you want to spend family time with Sean and Syd.” She played that SOO well.
Finally Andrea’s birthday arrives. I have worked really hard at keeping this a secret, maybe too good. No one called her, texted or facebooked happy birthday ALL DAY. Everyone was on social media silence and it baffled her. That was her first clue something was wrong. Andrea rationalized that she had talked to certain people already and that’s why they hadn’t contacted her. She then tells me that what’s really confusing her is that Anthony hasn’t sent the flowers he normally sends on her birthday. I tell her with all of the transportation issues going on because of the storms maybe the delivery guy is late. She said, “Well maybe he went to Cancun. He will call me later this evening.”
In the meantime Trina is coordinating with the restaurant to set up the tables, balloons etc. I tell her I am going on cell phone silence. Contact Syd if there are any issues. She will funnel information to me. Sure enough there is a glitch. We need to stall about ten minutes. Some of the family is stuck in traffic and are running late. I fake a bathroom run because I know Andrea will believe that based on my gallbladder removal causing….well you know. We get in the car and start driving. All of sudden Sydney says, “I left my charger. I need to go back to the house.” We back up and she grabs her charger. I later learn it was another stall tactic. Syd, Trina and I have created a scenario where Sydney has to “run into the restaurant to go to the bathroom”. In reality Syd has one of Andrea’s best cameras and will take pictures of the surprise.
We walk in and Erin is at the door. I introduce us and she is super giddy. “Mr. Thomas!!!! We have your table ready.” Andrea is looking like, “How does she know you” which is her second clue that something is not right. We walk in and of course all of the family is yelling surprise and happy birthday. Andrea is just BLOWN AWAY. She is looking at everyone and trying to figure out how this happened.
After she greets everyone we sit her down and gush all over her so that we can block the entrance for the main surprise. What Andrea and the rest of the family, except Trina, doesn’t know is that I worked with her son Anthony to be there and he is in the building. We had Andrea believing that Anthony and his fiancée Corinne were in Cancun. He slowly sneaks up behind her and hugs her and well……see for yourself.
Andrea screams and starts crying. We are clapping and laughing because everyone knows all Andrea wants is for her family to be together. Anthony being there completed that party. Later on I learned that when she walked in and saw everyone the first thing she did was look for Anthony HOPING he could make it. When she didn’t see him she thought to herself, “It’s Okay.”
It doesn’t matter what I buy her, what trip I take her on, the only thing that will make her truly happy is her family and so I gave her what I knew she wanted. Happy Birthday. I love you to Infinity and BEYOND!!!!!