(concluded from Part 2)
On my way home, I grew more confident in my prognostication; despite her amazing efforts and great acting, I would be more surprised if my wife didn’t have an ’80′s themed 40th birthday party waiting for me.
Another clue worked its way to the forefront of my mind. Earlier in the week while rifling through our refrigerator I had noticed a six-pack of Smirnoff Ice, something that I occasionally drink when others are drinking beer. We never keep it stocked in our refrigerator. And now, in the passenger’s seat, was a bottle of Riesling wine she had asked me to buy. We never buy drinks just for us on date night.
At the next red light, I grabbed my new P7000 and turned the mode dial to video. I was going to catch them in the act of surprising me.
I parked in the garage, as usual, and carefully carried the wine and my camera to the laundry room door. I opened it. Dead silence lay beyond. That was unusual for the average weekday, but not for a date night.
I held my camera in front of me, about halfway between my chest and stomach, to keep from giving away that I was using it. I tucked the wine under my other arm. My heart sped up a bit as I reached and opened the door that leads to the hallway and the living room.
“Surprise!” our friends shouted.
Toy guns popped and shot glittering confetti toward me. I laughed and backed up a bit to turn off my camera and set it in the laundry basket. I didn’t want to let on to everybody that I had suspected anything.
Shannon quickly ushered me into our bedroom, where my ’80′s garb — mullet wig included — awaited. While I changed she painted back into place her unibrow from back then. I cracked up when I saw that my sister-in-law had sent a pair of my brother’s jeans from our teen years.
Of course, after the initial “Happy Birthday” wishes, the first question folks asked was, “Did you know?” and “Were you totally surprised?”
I didn’t want to disappoint anybody, especially not Shannon, but I couldn’t lie. I admitted that I had suspected something because of a few things that seemed unusual. It was nothing specific that she had done this time around, though.
“As many surprise parties as we’ve thrown for each other, I almost had to be suspicious,” I said.
Movie and band posters from the ’80′s plastered our living room walls. The Gremlins, The Outsiders, The Breakfast Club, E.T., Guns ‘n’ Roses (barely ’80′s, but we’ll let that slide), and NWA.
Also adorning the walls were various funny phrases — white lettering on black plastic — about getting older. “Old as Mold” sticks out in my mind.
The cake featured tiny pictures that seemed personalized. Miniatures of the Fletch movie poster, Van Halen with David Lee Roth, David Hasselhoff and Gary Coleman posing with K.I.T.T, a cassette with the words “Mix Tape” written across it, and others. The number “40″ was the centerpiece, and they sparkled like the 4th of July when they burned.
Our friends — most of whom also grew up in the ’80′s, were decked out in their own vintage letter jackets, denim dresses, teased hair, and leg warmers. Don’t worry; they didn’t forget the acid-washed jeans.
After a fun evening of talking, reminiscing, and laughing at Steel Panther video clips on the Internet, everybody said their goodbyes.
It was perfect.
(Note: Sorry that there are no photos with this post. I just didn’t feel right about publishing them out here on a completely public blog. Those who are personal acquaintances can see them and probably already have on Facebook.)