Friday, May 12, 2006

Surprise! Surprise! (part I)

It has been quite a week to say the least, mostly due to a weekend of 30th birthday surprises - quite literally. The surprises came thick and fast as Aff, along with a number of accomplices, organised what appeared to be an endless supply of them, each giving way to the next.

So let's start from the start - Friday morning. The first surprise was as much a requirement of being a Belconnen resident as it was a surprise. Anyone who travels along Belconnen way regularly would be aware of the footbridge that for almost as many days as it doesn't, plays host to banners proclaiming various well wishes to specific people who may be driving underneath it. Most often the banners read happy birthday messages, and on Friday May 5th 2006, one lone banner hung from the hand rails reading "Happy 30th Chris!". Unlike most banners, Aff had not hung this directly over three lanes of road beneath, but instead, placed it over the bike track to the left, which also passes underneath the bridge. This was of course the best place for it if I was riding into uni. Unfortunately, however, for the first time in three weeks, I decided I would not ride into uni on this day, and so Aff was left to point out her surprise to me as we both sat in the car, and passed underneath the bridge. While not over the road itself, Aff had managed to write her birthday message in big bold blue letters, such that anyone could read it. It was quite a sight to see, and when I saw it, my first thought was "at last, my Canberra transition is complete!"

The next big surprise of my weekend was to happen that night (Friday). Aff had told me very little, only that we had to be out the door by 5.45pm, and so we were. Aff began her plans by wining and dining me at cafe` Musica, a local restaurant not far from our house. Given we had a booking for 6pm, a rather early time, and that we were pretty much the only people in the place, I figured there was more to this night than just dinner. Aff began feeding me clues which eventually led me to believe we must be heading to some sort of comedy show afterwards. The cryptic clue "You will have fun... Nee", followed by a very artificial sounding "Ha Ha Ha!" did seem to make it pretty clear, much to my annoyance (Aff has a bit of a tradition of giving away surprises). After about two hours, we left the restaurant. It was at this point that Aff put on what can only be described (in hindsight) as an academy award winning performance. Playing the role of the panic stricken partner whose cunning plan was about to come undone because she had lost the tickets, Aff put on a performance that would certainly shame many a Hollywood "actor". As her panic increased, so to did the nervousness in her voice, and her ability to think rationally. It was quite a disturbing sight.

"We have to be at the theatre by 8.15pm", she cried, "I think I've left the tickets at home! There is no way we are going to make it".

"Yes we will!, let's go home and find them", I replied.

And with that simple decision, Aff's true plans for the night were put in motion, and I was none the wiser.

We pulled into the driveway. Aff, still looking distressed, requested that I come in and help her find the tickets. This appeared to make sense given Aff had narrowed the possible locations to two possible places - her backpack in our bedroom, or the spare room where she had been hiding them. Aff approached the front door with keys in hand, but appeared to be overcome with anxiety such that she could not insert the key into the door lock. With my own anxiety increasing with each passing second, I abruptly intervened, taking the keys from Aff with an exasperated sigh, before opening the door. It was at this point that things didn't seem quite right.

When I left the house two hours beforehand, I had turned the front entrance light on, as one does to provide light when you come back home, as well as to deter intruders. Having made the conscious decision to do this, it was immediately obvious to me when I opened the front door that the light was now off. Instantly the hairs on the back of my neck stood to attention, as a sick nervousness took hold. I began turning towards Aff to point out this abnormality, when suddenly the silence was broken by the sound of thunderous cracking sounds from all around. While I would like to say that at this point, I dove over Aff in a vein attempt to spare her life from what at that instant in time, sounded like machine gun fire from a house intruder, it would be more accurate to say that I simply hit the deck, with my hands over my head, believing for a momentary second that my time was indeed up. Of course, it was not gun fire at all, but rather the ambiguous sound of party-poppers going off as thirty or so people let rip. Within the space of three seconds I moved from an emotion of shear terror, to absolute relief. Adding to the intensity of my fear was the fact that no one had actually turned a light on while all of this happened - this was apparently my job, which I immediately did once it was clear I was not going to die. The sight was something special. All I could do was sit on the closest chair I could find, and stare at the all the people that stood before me. I had been had big time, and I loved it!

It probably took me about an hour to calm down. I instantly went into meet and greet mode, saying hello and thanking everyone. I had conversations during that time, but in all honesty, I have no idea what I said. I was pretty freaked out. I don't necessarily cope with large crowds at the best of times, so to be thrust into such a situation did take a little getting used to. Mind you, when one is faced with the split second thought that they are being shot at, such issues with crowds do take a rather distant back seat. The truth is, I had an absolute ball, and quickly got started on the champagne, red wine and beer - always a winning combination.

I woke the next morning feeling, unsurprisingly, under the weather. Given I only got to sleep at 4.30am the previous night, I was quite impressed that despite my hung-over state, I managed to get myself out of bed by 9.30am. The reason for the early rise was that Aff and I had plans to go camping on the Saturday night, but first had to face the rather intimidating task of cleaning up the squalor left behind after the previous night's festivities.

"Where's the surprise clean up team?" I thought to myself.

As I walked out of the bedroom, I began my usual morning routine of walking aimlessly around the house, chasing the cat for no apparent reason, and standing for minutes at a time, waiting for my thoughts to catch up with the rest of me. When they finally joined me, I started discussing the surprise party with Aff, and how well I had been .. well ... Surprised. Aff quite proudly began to disclose pieces of the story leading up to the event, and how difficult it had been to keep it a secret. I mentioned to Aff that I was particularly impressed how she had managed to make me think I was going to a comedy show. She never explicitly told me this, she just led me to believe this was the case. It was at this point that Aff paused, got out of bed and picked up something from her bedside table. It was a piece of paper, rolled up and tied with a ribbon. It seems I wasn't completely wrong after all, for Aff had handed me air tickets to fly herself and I to Melbourne that night, to watch a comedy festival show.

My jaw hit the floor.

"Another surprise!" I cried, "this is too much! Way too much!".

Aff replied in the only appropriate way: "Shut up you fool! We're going and that's that!"

I was, of course, very excited but this excitement was soon overtaken by a sense of anxiety as I realised we were flying to Melbourne in less than three hours, but had a house that resembled a war zone. After a quick phone call to Mum and Dad, telling them I was going to be in town, Aff and I set about cleaning the house. Quite impressively, it took only an hour and a half to bring the house back to an acceptable level of tidiness, and with that done we were soon on our way to the airport for the next stage of my already very surprising 30th birthday.

Click here for part II


Anonymous Em said...

By all means Chris - take a breather - you surely need it. However, I for one am looking forward to the next installment. By the way, how did the cat survive the machine gun fire?

5/15/2006 06:42:00 PM

Anonymous Mands said...

In my defense Chris, I had to ensure that the light was switched off or else, you would have seen us all through the window. However, I do think you raise some very valid points and yes, NEXT time we'll endeavour to ensure you're merrily surprised, not petrified!

Sorry champ!!

Mands :)

5/16/2006 10:08:00 AM

Blogger macca said...

em - the cat survived as cat's do - through complete indifference to what's happening around them :)

mands - you make a good point regarding the need for the light to be off. And don't get me wrong, moving through such extreme emotions certainly made for what was quite literally, the surprise of a life time.

I am in awe of how it was done without me having even the foggiest idea. Bloody brilliant!

5/16/2006 02:55:00 PM


Post a Comment

<< Home