It’s a good thing that both of us like surprises…because we also like to surprise one another. And what better occasion for a surprise than a birthday?!? Jon’s birthday falls at the end of October, but plans for his birthday surprise were put into action in mid-July. In the back of my mind, I had been toying with the idea of surprising Jon with Washington Husky football tickets, figuring that when his birthday grew closer, I would look into the possibility. However, well before the season began (when there was still hope), a dear friend who lives in South Bend, Ind., called to inform me that Notre Dame was playing in Seattle on October 25th.
This is significant for two reasons: first, this friend and her husband, a graduate student at Notre Dame (and also the other teacher/Army officer couple from Bamberg days), are avid football fans. Second, the game was scheduled the day after Jon’s birthday. For that reason, I decided to not tell him that our friends were considering flying out for the game and tucked away the information as a birthday surprise. Several months went by before the planning began in earnest. Numerous surreptitious phone calls and e-mails were relayed and other friends were included in the secret. My middle-school acting career proved to be excellent training for all the lies I was telling. It’s probably not a good thing that they came so easily to me. My motives were pure, though, so I didn’t really feel guilty. I did feel nervous, however. Coming up with the idea was easy enough, but making plans in a city that Jon is a million times more familiar with proved to be much more difficult. I certainly could not have done it without the help of friends. When the day commemorating the anniversary of Jon’s birth arrived, I was ready. I told him that we were going out to dinner to meet his good friend from high school (and best man) and off we went. Jon was less than impressed with my restaurant selection, but he was a good sport about it. I knew he wouldn’t be all that excited about it, but it was crucial to the plan because it was located near the airport. As we impatiently waited for Jon’s friend (who I knew would never arrive because he was sick), our out-of-town guests sneaked up behind Jon and gave him the ultimate birthday surprise. I couldn’t contain the rest of the surprise any longer as we explained the reason for our friends’ arrival: Husky Football. If only the game was as enjoyable as the rest of the weekend. Despite the shellacking the Huskies received on behalf of the Fighting Irish (favorite chant: “Take Ty back!”), we had fun entertaining our friends as Jon effortlessly slid into “Seattle Tour Guide” mode. Hilarity ensued.