Surprise!

Someone I know is turning 40 years old this year, and other people I know are planning a surprise party for her. Well, they were planning a surprise party, but I have been quite bitchy about it. I absolutely HATE surprise parties, I’m morally opposed to them, and of course, my opinion is the only one that counts. We all know that.

Surprise parties always require so much work for so little payoff. The person closest to the Birthday Girl (BG) has to be completely committed to the plan. He has to create elaborate fabrications designed to convince BG that she needs to keep a certain day and time completely free — and he needs to remember which lie he told when. The planners need to make secret plans and do secret shopping and take secret phone calls, which results in the BG either guessing what’s up, or getting pissed off that no one is available on her birthday.

Plus there’s the political problems. Maybe the organizers don’t invite Judy from work, and BG has lunch with Judy every day, and now it’s awkward because BG can’t talk about it at work because Judy wonders why BG’s family have never heard of her and didn’t invite her. Or maybe, some other invitee suggests inviting Kathleen, and it turns out Kathleen is a good friend of the invitee but a mortal enemy of BG, and there’s issues, and OH THE DRAMA.

And sometimes you’ll be having the party on a day when the BG had a tough day at work, or didn’t get good sleep the night before, or else hates surprises SO much that she turns on her heel as soon as everyone yells “Surprise!” and stomps off, never to return. I won’t name names, but you know who you are.

Seriously, is all that crap worth it just for the two second look on BG’s face when she walks in? I think not. It’s not like I expect the Birthday Girl to make up a guest list, and a menu, and pick a theme for the decorations, and book a hall, and maybe make a few party favours. We’ll do all the work, there will still be wonder and surprises and exclamations of delight, just let BG know the day and time so there’s no sneaking around, and also, give her some guest list input. That’s all!

Anyway, last night I was talking about this to Sir Monkeypants and warning him that he should never, EVER, consider throwing me a surprise party. He got this guilty look on his face and said, “Um…too late.” And I was all, “WHAT THE HELL?” and he said, “I already invited a bunch of people and they’ll be here in about five minutes. You should probably put some pants on.” Then I punched him.

He went on, however, to tell me all the fabulous famous people that would be dropping by. He invited the creators of Etsy, he said, and they were coming by both with gifts from my favourites list and a job offer. He said Shannen Doherty of 90210 would be able to make it, just as soon as she was done her dinner theatre engagement over in Carp. I suggested he invite Jennie Garth too, because maybe then there would be a catfight, and all the good parties on The O.C. always had a catfight.

Sir Monkeypants also said that Ken Jennings would be coming by, and I admit I actually squealed with excitement, such is my love of the KenJen. And Brett Favre and family would also be able to make it, so I better wear my cheesehead with my party outfit.

He mentioned that Anna Maria Tremonti and Lucy van Oldenbarneveld from the CBC would probably be able to make it, and later we’d be seeing Kristen Bell and Enrico Colantoni trade daughter/father witticisms just like they used to on Veronica Mars. Joss Whedon was a maybe, but Angelina Jolie would definitely be coming by so that we could all bask in her glory. (I told Sir Monkeypants it was okay if she needed to bring the kids. We’d get KenJen and his wife to watch them — they’re all responsible and stuff.)

Then Sir Monkeypants asked me who I would invite — famous people only — to his imaginary surprise party. I told him I’d invite Aaron Sorkin and the entire cast of The West Wing. Sir Monkeypants said that would be fine, but only if we could yell out the names of each West Wing actor’s character as they entered the party — just like we used to over the opening credits of the show each week.

I knew Lance Armstrong was in for sure, and there were probably some other cycling dudes whose names I don’t know who would hover with Lance over the snacks table. Randy Moss would be dropping by — but only on the condition that he keep his hands off Angelina, who would also be attending Sir Monkeypants’ party, having had such a great time at mine. The quarterback of his favourite team — Tavaris Jackson of the Minnesota Vikings — would be invited, but that was only so that Sir Monkeypants could kick him in the shins when he arrived, then make him serve drinks all night like the goat that he is. Sir Monkeypants liked that idea.

I told him I’d get Tegan and Sara to come do an accoustic set in the living room. The members of the Barenaked Ladies would arrive later, and once slightly sloshed, would probably jam with T&S to hilarious effect. I also offered to invite the founders of Google, so Sir Monkeypants could convince them to give him a really great job that involves him getting paid tons of money for working about 10 hours a week, all from home, and he said that would be fine, but that there was no need to invite Linus the Linux guy because Linus would probably just feel awkward, or else get preachy once he got a few beers in him.

Oh, and arriving late at the party would be a few super cool poker players, like Brad Booth (since he’s Canadian and all), Antonio Esfandiari (again, only if he keeps his hands off of Angelina), Barry Greenstein, Phil Ivey, Phil Laak (feel free to bring Jennifer Tilly along with you), and, if he isn’t too whiny, Daniel Negraneau. They’d play a few hands around the dining room table while Tavaris Jackson brought them beverages.

Who would you want at your imaginary surprise party?

6 thoughts on “Surprise!

  1. fame_throwa

    Ya, surprise parties suck. If LittleSis wants to do it like that, she’s on her own. I’m not putting in that kind of effort without any real pay-off!

    I went to a surprise party once. We were there until about 1am waiting for the BG to arrive. She was at a dinner with friends, one of which was supposed to get her out of there by 10pm at the latest. After we yelled “surprise” (and she nearly had a heart attack) we all went home.

    At my party would be Stephen Thomas Erlewine (from All Music), Gwen Stefani, Gloria Steinem, Kathy Sierra (a brilliant user experience expert) and, of course, the Trashcan Sinatras playing an acoustic set. If someone could track him down, I’d also like my long lost friend PJ to come, too. I’d keep the number small so I’d be sure to get time to chat with everyone.

  2. Anna Maria Tremonti is, like, totally my hero. If she showed up at my party I’d totally be a blithering idiot. Actually, the couple of times I’ve had surprise parties thrown for me I was a blithering idiot anyway. I just felt totally overwhelmed by the whole thing.

  3. LOL…forgot to say, that line about Linus the Linux guy practically made me snort coffee out my nose. I used to work at an open source software company and trust me, those guys totally don’t need any beer in them in order to get all preachy.

  4. i wouldn’t invite anyone, i hate suprise parties…and after my 30th which was a total bomb nobody who currently loves me would ever throw me another!

  5. CapnPlanet

    Funny, I’ve been on the periphery of surprise party organization a few times, but I’d never really thought about them philosophically. But I think I completely agree with you — one of those ideas that sounds great on paper but never really works in practice.

  6. I actually *had* a surprise party this year when I turned 30. My parents arranged it for me at the State Fair (held annually every August here in Syracuse). It was my friends and some of my parents friends and some peeps from work. It was great. I didn’t mind it at all because it was so low-key.

    My famous people guess list would have to include:
    -Chris Drury (center for the Rangers, eye candy)
    -Bode Miller (downhill skiier, party boy)
    -The New Pornographers to serenade me
    -Hugh Laurie
    -Giada DeLaurentiis (for the food, and because she seems like she’d throw a helluva party)

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