Tales of surprises

surprised cat

WHAT??!!! No catnip in the house?? Surprised cat image courtesy of bandini, Morguefile.

I love to surprise people; the more elaborate the surprise, the better. There’s the planning, the intrigue, the build-up and the reveal. The trick, however, is to keep your potential surprisee from figuring out what’s going on.

My sibs and I did this for my parents’ wedding anniversary years ago. One of the milestone anniversaries for my parents came up and we arranged to rent a large hall, telling them that there was going to be a party for one of my cousins and her husband. We got ahold of friends, coworkers and family (I was charged with the mission of sneaking my parent’s address book out of the house; cue the music for “Mission Impossible” here), decorated the room and tables, and fixed the food (with the generous help of more cousins).

My parents had NO idea what was going on until they arrived, having been brought by my uncle and aunt. One parent recognized a license plate, and another, and another….and then figured out what was happening. (BUSTED! It was an early evening party and I’d hoped that the darkness would hide the vehicle license plates, but no luck.) My parents, however, had HUGE smiles as they walked in the door.

It was a double whammy weekend. A relative congratulated my parents on their anniversary, saying, “They really got you, huh?” My dad told me later that he was thinking, “It’s YOUR turn tomorrow!” (That same relative and his wife were surprised the next day with a 50th wedding anniversary celebration.)

Wedding proposals are fun too. I like to see proposal videos on YouTube; it’s heartwarming to see the shocked but happy expressions. But I wonder: Why do the women cover their entire faces with their hands?

One of my former coworkers received a proposal during a presidential inauguration. She went with her boyfriend and some others to the National Mall, and everybody was in on it except her. During the inauguration, he got down on one knee and offered the ring. Someone else (I think it was her mom) uploaded the photo and the news picked it up.

And here’s where it gets good: They even got to tell the proposal story on TV. We created a Hollywood-style star with her name and hung it on her office door, accompanied by some good-humored teasing.

I’m usually the one planning the surprises, so it’s rare for someone to surprise me, but it’s happened. My parents got me a wheeled suitcase for Christmas years ago since I do a fair bit of traveling; I had absolutely no idea. How they got it into the house and hid it, I’ll never know.

Another time in college, I went with some friends on a drive into the mountains; all of us piled into a truck with a camper shell. We stopped at a place where you could see for miles and miles. I went to take some pictures and when I turned around, there was a birthday cake (mine!) sitting on the tailgate. I had no idea about that, either. I really appreciated the fact that my friends took the trouble to get the cake and bring it.

Maybe that’s why I like Maroon 5’s “Sugar” video so much, since it has surprises in it. (Video credit: Maroon5VEVO on YouTube.) If you haven’t seen it yet, have fun!

Blog readers: Care to share stories of when you were involved in a good surprise?


Filed under Writing

19 responses to “Tales of surprises

  1. Adam Levine is such a good human being! Love this video! 😄

  2. Maybe women cover their faces because they are embarrassed? Maybe they’d like to get their emotions under control in private? I wish people would ask before they shoot, like “Do you mind if I turn make this into a video?” Apparently privacy is not an option. I love the surprise, the planning, the thoughtfulness, but I hate being on “candid camera.” It doesn’t bother my husband, mind you. He’s fine with cameras pointing at him. I’m not, so I’m behind the camera by choice. I know a lot of women who feel the same way. A fair number of men, too.

    • With the proliferation of smartphones, tablets and social media, I’m convinced that privacy is gone.

      Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my Snapchat, YouTube, Flickr, Twitter, Facebook closeup…..

  3. The kiddos surprised my hubs on a significant birthday, complete with flying in their sister with her kiddo. We were absolutely clueless! A great evening. We would surprise them when they were younger, so maybe good payback is worthwhile.

  4. Nope. Don’t like surprises. I like to know about fun things that are about to happen so I can savor them for days beforehand! Just don’t take me off-guard.

  5. musicbymelissa

    I love to be involved in surprising people 🙂 and it’s always interesting to see their reactions, and who likes them and who doesn’t. For example, my three brothers and I and my sister surprised my mom for her 60th – the boys all flew in from New York to New Mexico; mom was surprised, cried, exclaimed over and over what a special day it was. It was so heartfelt and memorable. But we surprised my sister-in-law for her 40th birthday and she had to take 10 minutes in the other room to be okay with it. (granted at her expense we all enjoyed surprising her. but she was a good sport about it in the end)

    It tells a lot about a person’s approach to life and how they handle things when you see how they react to ‘surprises’ being done for them, don’t you think? And not in a bad way, either, just some insight to who they are.

    (by the way, I didn’t mention if I like surprises or not. Although I have to say that very few have been done for me, I always feel a mixture of embarrassment that the ‘eyes are all on me’ but a sincere appreciation in feeling so loved. It does take extra effort to surprise people, and when it happens, it’s something to cherish, look back on, and smile)

    • I think you’re right; it does say a lot about someone about how they react to surprises. Hopefully, in the end, people appreciate the fact that someone cared enough to give them a good surprise.

  6. Well planned surprises really show you care enough to spend some time – and that you are observant about the person. I used to do a lot of them – it was fun and a good surprise can be more appreciated than an expensive gift you can’t afford. (But you do have to know the person and create the appropriate situation that will make them happy but not embarrassed or mad – once again you have to take the time.)
    How nice the one who is usually the planner got the gift of a surprise herself!

  7. I have no idea who these singers are, but obviously, the crowd did. Great video!

    • I’m glad you liked it. I hoped people would.

      Side tidbit: Adam Levine, the lead singer of this band (Maroon 5) also happens to be a coach on a reality talent show called “The Voice”. The four coaches (professional musicians) on the show sit on chairs that face away from the singers who come to perform, so that each singer is first judged on the quality of their singing alone. If the singer is deemed good enough, each judge can touch a button to rotate the chair and face the singer. Heartwarming to see when each coach is impressed enough to turn around.

      I like how they snuck a reference to “The Voice” into the video. Very clever.

  8. Thanks for the comment on my latest post. I replied to your comment in the wrong place, so my response is there but you probably did’t see it.


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