November 5th was my husband’s 50th birthday. He had never had a birthday party and I figure on this monumental date, we should at least do something special. It worked out that it was on a Saturday.
In October, Frank purchased his own birthday present, a surround sound system. He loves the movies and the floor shaking audio antics that go along with movie theaters.
November 5th always marks “Holidmonium” for me. Please don’t look it up in the dictionary. I made the word up. It is that feeling of pandemonium during the holiday season that is only exacerbated by extreme commercialism and brainwashing.
Where you ever one of those people who fought for a Cabbage Patch doll or a Tickle Me Elmo? Ever stood in line at 4:00 am at Kmart so you could be the first to go through the doors at 7:30 am.
So maybe you are not into stuffed animals, how about the Xbox, which has caused a generation of couch potatoes. There is not that much hand eye coordination in the world that playing video games can help my children with.
“Holidmonium” will even be higher this year because those who have fallen victim to job cuts will put things on plastic and try to make everything all right.
On November 5th, I woke up on a mission. My goal was to not let it slip that we were having a surprise birthday party for Frank that evening.
I ordered the cake three weeks in advance. I did not take any of the children with me for fear that they would pick up bits and pieces of the conversation with the cake lady. I had specific instructions for a Michigan State University cake with footballs on it. Frank is one of the most loyal football fans that I know. I don’t bother him while he is watching football.
I conspired with my poet friend, Danielle, to pick up the cake and some balloons.
I was not good at keeping secrets from my husband so I woke up with a plan to have an attitude about everything.
I started complaining about how he was supposed to clean out the gutters and how when it rains the water gushes over the side.
He was quite offended that I would bring this up on his birthday. But what else was I to do? I heard him saying, “Happy Birthday to me!!!” as he stomped off to pull the ladder out of the basement.
I smiled as I heard him making a lot of extra noise to express is distaste with my nerve of complaining about the gutters.
I yelled into the basement while smiling, ”You know there is a tree growing out of one of the downspouts, make sure that you get that too.”
We had a business meeting on Saturday morning that lasted for three hours and after that I told him that I wanted to get a manicure.
I could see fire in his eyes. I was trying to make the day go faster. I quickly added, “Ummm, well you could get a manicure too.”
It was quite pleasing to me to see my 6 foot 5 inch husband towering over the 4 foot 9 inch Vietnamese nail tech at the Meridan Mall.
As he got his manicure, I made sure to tell him what a metrosexual is.
Metrosexual is a term coined in 1994 (along with the noun, metrosexuality) by British journalist Mark Simpson, who used it to refer to an urban male of any sexual orientation who has a strong aesthetic sense and spends a great deal of time and money on his appearance and lifestyle.
He is the fashion-conscious target audience of men's magazines.
He raised his eyebrows at me when I asked him if he wanted to put on clear polish. I told him how fabulous it was that we were getting our nails done together. He gave me the eye again.
I was having a blast. He was probably thinking this has been the strangest birthday ever. It was funny.
I made reservations for 4:30 pm for dinner. We had some business to discuss in peace and it was also a great way to clear the house for the surprise birthday party.
Frank took all day to get ready. First he had on some jeans and then he decided to change. Not only did he decide to change but he had to take another shower and put on a suit. It must have been all that metrosexual talk that got him going.
I had enlisted his sister, Velma Ray and our niece,Tiffany, to act as babysitters. Ray was on her way back to Minneapolis (she was a great help to our family during Frank’s healing process after his brother Jody died).
We would love to have more caring family members live closer. Ray and I were in a frazzle as we heard the shower go on at 4:21 p.m. I noted the time because I was just about to pass out. People were supposed to start arriving at 6:00 pm.
At 5:00 p.m. he floated down the steps looking like he just shot the cover of GQ Magazine. He did one quick twirl and we were out the door to Carraba’s (good food) to talk about the business of the day.
Thank goodness, the NuPoets had a performance that evening so the cars lined up in the street would not be out of place.
We finished up dinner and my heart was pounding. I wondered if he knew, while he was taking so long to get dressed he asked me why was I rushing him.
I defensively told him that we had a reservation at 4:30 pm. Carraba’s does not take reservations but I had to say something. You can call them to let them know that you are coming though.
It did not look like I would get caught but I sure started to act strange.
As we pulled into the driveway I started to honk the horn. Did he figure anything? No, he just thought I was having a “that girl is crazy moment”.
I was surprised and it seemed as though everything was going in slow motion.
Frank opened the door and everyone screamed out, “SURPRISE.”
It was so hilarious because the look on Frank’s face was priceless. They should do a MasterCard commercial based on a surprise party theme. It would be awesome.
Frank blushed like a boy in high school on his first date. His brothers Laymond and Robert were there. Of course our second family, the NuPoets: Vincent Powell, Danielle Vinson, Tiya Kunaiyi, Joseph Harris and Joe Petrous. Joe was in charge of the camera and it was quite the photo shoot.
I have seen Frank happy but happy and surprised all at the same time. He was tricked too. I quickly apologized to him for being so mean but thanked him for cleaning out the gutters. We laughed about the antics that it took to pull this off.
I do not care about what anybody thinks about my life. My husband and I understand what is important to keep the flow of reality open. It was like a dream watching Frank smile. Yes, it was the smile that makes fairy dust real. He was happy. He forgot about the gutters, the manicure and just pure bad behavior on the the part of his wife (which I constantly attribute to being a New Yorker). It was all right because the outcome was beautiful. I thank my second family the NuPoets for making it real and special. We love each and every one of you for providing us with a safe place to brrrrreeeeattthe and love you......forever in our memories.
Happy Birthday, Frank 2005....