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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