I think surprise parties are cruel.
That’s right, I said it.
You walk into a room expecting one thing, and get something completely different. Now, if you’d KNOWN there was going to be a party in your honor, you’d probably have fixed your hair, worn a different outfit, sucked the nacho stain off your shirt.
Hell, you’d have the opportunity to look forward to it for weeks!
I learned this lesson the hard way. I perpetrated this evil on one of the people most beloved to me in my life. My sister Beezy. It was her 16th birthday. I thought it would be “super rad” (it was the 80s) to invite her friends over for a surprise pool party. I even arranged for her best friend who lived in another state to fly in for the occasion. I was high on the intrigue and deceit. Half the fun, no ALL OF THE FUN, was keeping the secret. We dressed Ray, the aforementioned friend, up like a big present and placed her front and center in the entryway of our house. My dad took Beezy to a movie she didn’t want to go to. She had already seen it, and he made her sit through it again, putting her in a foul mood. Now, we’re talking 16 years old, here, so take it from a high school teacher: crabby 16 is worse than crabby 30 any day of the week and twice on Sunday.
When she arrived at the house and came in the front door, we all yelled “Surprise!” and Beezy looked appropriately delighted and grateful, posing gamely for pictures. You have to know her like a sister to see that the smile in those pictures is pained, forced, and fake. She hates what she’s wearing. She hates her hair. She wasn’t in the mood for a party. She just wanted to GO HOME and be ALONE after spending the afternoon with her insistent and annoying father.
I learned all of this later. I was so self-congratulatory that I’d pulled off the surprise, I didn’t even stop to think if this is what my sister would even WANT for her sweet 16. Thus follows my theory that a surprise party is always about the person throwing it, and never about the person being surprised. If you think about it, would you really want to open the door to your own home thinking, “Yay, I can’t wait to crack a beer, put on my sweatpants and watch DVRed ‘Survivor!'” and have everyone you know yell “SURPRISE!” at you? Fuck yeah, I’m surprised. I thought I could trust you people. Now I have to play hostess for god only knows how many hours before I can be alone with Jeff Probst. Happy birthday to me.
Or, you walk into a restaurant with your husband expecting a quiet dinner for two. Now I can talk to him, you think, about how we can get under this cat shitting on the floor thing. You know, hypothetically. Or maybe you’re just thinking, “Thank Jeebus I don’t have to cook, and I can just relax and be waited on.”
Oh, shit! Now I have to talk to all of my family and friends for hours instead. In this stained tank top! And everyone is taking pictures! Super.
I was only 17 when I committed this evil against Beezy, so I’m glad I learned that lesson young. We have a rule in this family now. Nay, a pact. No surprise parties.
And that includes “interventions.”