Monday, February 4, 2013
A (Surprise!) Birthday Party
About three weeks ago, I contacted one of John's best friends, Rob, and presented to him my plan: I wanted to throw John a surprise birthday party at our place, inviting all of his/our friends, but needed to get him out of the flat for as many hours as possible during the day so that I could prepare without him getting suspicious. Rob all-too-readily accepted the challenge, and roped in two other friends to lure John out of the flat with the promise of watching the Six Nations rugby game (a big one, conveniently, as it was England v. Scotland) at a pub in the City (what ensued was the most hilarious chain of boy banter I've ever read, btw. Why do guys have a secret language?).
Obviously, the lack of suspicion failed, because in Week 2 of planning what Rob had dubbed, "Operation Calcutta Cup", John saw right through my lies and knew I was up to something. "Rob mentioned getting the boys together and watching Six Nations in a few weeks' time," John said to me a day after I had hatched my plan. "Oh yeah?" I said, casually, as I folded laundry. "We have a huge projector, so why don't I get them to come over instead?" he said. "That won't work," I replied quickly. "I've got so much ... work ... to do at home. I need some peace and quiet." He looked at me. "You're SUCH a bad liar," he said. "You're planning something!" I simply walked away and wrote to Rob: "He's on to me!" I knew that John knew something was up, but I was confident that he didn't know the scope of who'd be involved. I had gotten in touch with some of his closest school and university friends through Facebook, who were all enthusiastic about the idea of a surprise party and more than happy to attend.
Fast forward to the day of the party: I made sure to mope around the flat the whole morning in my pajamas, waiting for John to get out of the house while simultaneously complaining about how "tired" I was and how much paperwork I had to get through that weekend. I even managed a, "I wish you weren't going to the pub" pitiful look. As soon as I heard the door lock behind him, however, I sprung into action: calling Alice and Jodi over to say the coast was clear, moving tables and arranging chairs, waiting for the Sainsbury's delivery of over £100 worth of booze to arrive, and getting dressed.
Alice and I headed over to Party Party (what a name, right?) in Dalston for helium-filled balloons and party decorations (which ended up looking AMAZING), while Jodi helped prepare snacks at my place. 5:30 (when I asked people to start arriving) rolled around in no time, but when no one showed up then, I panicked and texted Rob, telling him to delay John for as long as possible. Sure enough, at 6 pm sharp, when I had asked everyone to arrive by, the doorbell started ringing and didn't stop!
Soon, there were 20 of John's best friends gathered around, waiting to surprise him. When I got the text from Rob telling me that they were on their way, we turned off the lights, got very quiet, and waited for the sound of the key in the lock. We had candles in two of the cupcakes that Alice and I had been feverishly baking for the past hour or so, and all was in place.
When John walked in and we shouted, "SURPRISE!" the expression on his face was priceless (and one that we can re-live thanks to Bindy's quick-thinking skills of filming the scene as it unfolded on John's iPad mini). It made me so happy to see him so happy and I knew the weeks of my secretive planning had led to a success.
For the rest of the night, we caught-up with each other, ate these ...
... which Alice and I made from a recipe in the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook (the cake stand is from Oliver Bonas, in case you're wondering).
We somehow ended up at Passing Clouds until 3 a.m., with John delightfully and deliriously happy-drunk, repeatedly asking for a KFC "Zinger burger" (we had to settle for Dixy's, instead, as KFC isn't exactly an 24-hour establishment).
This was the aftermath the next day:
All in all, it was a terrific evening. And what did I learn? Firstly, John has some amazing friends, who obviously love him very, very much. Secondly, planning surprise parties is fun. I wouldn't rule out doing another one at some point in the near future! Thirdly, never underestimate just how many pizzas or beers you'll need - you'll always need more.
What about you? Have you ever pulled off a successful surprise party before and were there any close calls to the surprise being spoiled?