My friend Jared’s wife is good at surprises. How good? Last year she brought him out to quiet drinks at a bar in San Diego, where they live, and that’s when all of his Los Angeles friends showed up… for a two-day bender at a beach house.
“Surpri”– shut up, she’s not done.
A few days later, while Jared was at work, his wife walks in and tells him that she’s already made the arrangements, secretly, to get Jared time off while they go Belgium for 10 days. I think she even packed his bags.
“Surprise”– shhhhh, still not done.
He touches down in Belgium and finds his entire family is there. Ok, say it.
Exactly. She sets the bar high is what I’m saying, and it helps to know Jared because you get to be in on the fun. And I know Jared. We were each others best men.
So for his birthday this year, at 7:00 AM, a few Saturdays ago, she blind folded Jared, and put him in the car, and then drove for an hour and a half.
In most people’s experience when this happens, you take off your blind fold, find yourself in the middle of the desert, are then handed a shovel and instructed to dig your own grave at gun point.
For Jared, when he takes off the blind fold: “Disneyland!”
And then she levels the gun to his head.
Kidding. They park, get on the tram, walk to Space Mountain. Then while waiting in line, my wife and I sneak up behind Jared and his wife. We’re awesome people, by Jared’s standards, so we make for a pretty good surprise.
To execute our end of the bargain, I’d taken a picture of Jared and his wife while they walked through Disneyland. The plan was to text it, Jared checks his phone, only to find a picture of him and his wife waiting in line, along with the message “I’m watching you.” Who doesn’t love creepy stuff? But my patience ran out before AT&T’s threadbare 3G network would send the picture. I put Jared in an awkward headlock instead.
“You guys are here too?! I had no idea! This is great!” And then commenced 16 hours of Space Mountain, California Adventure, weird button-trading Disneyphiles, and a lot of people who didn’t seem to really need to be in wheelchairs and yet were getting pushed around in wheelchairs. Then it was time for dinner at Blue Bayou.
“Dinner at Club 33!!” squealed Jared.
Yes, Club 33, the very exclusive restaurant in Disneyland where you can only get a reservation if you’re a member or know a member. And to become a member there’s a 15 year wait list, and once you’ve made it through the wait list, there’re exorbitant initiation fees, and after you’ve paid them I’m fairly certain you have to defeat a kraken. Again, this is only to allow you the privilege of being able to make a reservation. No free entry to Disneyland. No free Micky ears. Just the reservation, and bragging rights.
Also, it’s ‘spensive!
Jared approached the menu like someone crossing a mildly frozen pond with a group of friends. Unsure if the ice is going to break, taking everyone down with you, and at the bottom of the pond a waiter hands you a huge bill.
Garden Salad – $ – Lettuce, fresh tomato, dressing… honestly, no one orders this. I doubt we even have one in the kitchen.
Filet Mignon – $$$ You want me… But you’re going to order that stupid salad, because you need student loans to afford me.
So it was pretty fun seeing how appalled he looked when his wife ordered one of the most expensive bottles of wine on the wine list, because–
“Surprise!! The dinner is completely covered!! Get whatever you want!”
She’s the Napoleon of surprises. Except she’s tall.
I once threw a surprise birthday party for my wife, in the pre-wife days. What made it a success wasn’t that I had endless twists of surprises. I didn’t. People were going to yell “Surprise!” That’s it. No, what made it a success was that beforehand she was in an uncharacteristically bad mood, and was really annoyed with me. She wanted to invite over a couple for game night, but all I could come up with was “It is your birthday, and we should do what you want, but game night sucks, sweetie, let’s go over to Dan and Ben’s instead.” So when I dragged her over to our friends’ apartment and thirty or so of our friends jumped out and said “Surprise!!” she turned to me, smiling and said “I love you, I’m sorry for being such an asshole just then.”
Seeing her go from “you’re sleeping in the garage tonight” to happy instantaneously was worth it. Also, now I can say, “Remember when you were being a dick to me because I was doing something really really nice for you?” She remembers.
But that’s best case scenario for the rest of us, with Jared’s wife doing as she does. Get someone pissed off and then surprise them. And seriously, she should get Jared socks next year. Only socks. Mostly because Jared will be expecting something else, that other thing… that twist. And the twists is, you’re just getting socks, Jared. Just like the rest of us.
One last thing, this was my first time ever at Disneyland. Ever. Never went when I was a kid, and I haven’t been to its weird second cousin, Disney World either. So it’s my first impression, with all the rides you all know and love, then it culminates with one of the most expensive dinners I’d ever had, where we ate stupid amounts of food, drank ridiculously good wine and scotch and then closed down the restaurant.
So unless I cultivate a huge desire to be really disappointed the next time I go, Disneyland has been ruined for me. “Surprise.”