Wednesday, November 07, 2007

boo-rthday surprise

It's only fair that, after I've subjected you to a long (and somewhat nasty) rant about surprise parties gone wrong, I tell you a little about a surprise party that went extremely well.

I've spoken at length about my high school friends, many of whom make regular appearances in my posts. And one thing we're known for are our birthday parties, which come close to being over the top. Kaiya's the old lady of the group, so parties for her tend to be a little more extravagant than the rest. There was a murder-mystery dinner where everyone dressed like someone from the '20s, there was an all-out luau with a six-foot fake palm tree and caribbean chicken skewers where Ri and I painted an oceanscape mural on the back of a refrigerator box (people posed in front of it for pictures), and countless other gatherings preceded by covertly procuring emails and phone numbers, staying up all night making Jell-O shots, frantically cooking and decorating, then yelling surprise.

You'd think that after awhile, people in the group would get wise to the not-so-"surprising" theme. You'd be right, but in the interest of fairness we've all been keeping up appearances (at least that's my theory) for years. This time being Kaiya's 30th, we figured it should be even more of a bang than usual.

Because Highcontrast lives in New York now, it's trickier to pick dates. Early on, we settled on November 10, and told Kaiya to keep it open. Ri asked her if she was in the mood for a big shindig with all the extended friends or a more intimate gathering with just the core group. Kai said intimate, and that was the last of her input on the matter. We had other plans.

While Kaiya was busy clearing her schedule for the 10th, Ri and her husband, C, announced that they were throwing a huge Halloween party in the multipurpose room of their condo, which has a kitchen and a sweet theater area. We spent an ungodly amount of time crafting a poem for a spooky yet birthday-ish evite, then mailed Kaiya a fake invitation. But getting many of her nonmutual friends on the list was proving to be really tricky. The party room has a max capacity of 45 people, and we were hoping to get somewhere in the comfy zone of 30-40 to make renting it worth the trouble. So all of us repeatedly hinted to Kai that we were inviting loads of extended friends and encouraged her to send a list of her own.

She sure did. Kaiya submitted a list of TWENTY-FIVE people, pushing the guest list very close to 60. Getting all those extra people past the doorman was going to be interesting.

We were convinced the jig was up: she must have figured out this party was for her and was sticking it to us for being so sneaky. Why else would she invite so many people? We thought the budget we had set would go totally out the window and began frantically looking for deals on liquor and decorations. But despite the new parameters (and a few glitches), somehow two kinds of punch got made, tiny appetizers got little toothpicks, cheese was cut into little triangles and arranged with crackers and pepperoni, fruit got cut up, pumpkin cookies were baked, ice chests were packed with booze, fake spiderwebbing (which smells like shit, btw) was draped around every immobile object, mini lanterns were lit, napkins were fanned out, banners were hung, the screaming doormat was functioning and in place, the Caution, Do Not Enter yellow tape was stretched across the room, and the music was pumping. AND, for which I am most proud, we only went $12 over the budget and had plenty of food and drink to spare.

The party was supposed to start at 6:30 and some of Kai's less experienced-with-us friends actually showed up on time, as we were running around costumeless and twisting crepe paper from the ceiling. The rest started trickling in, and by the end of the night we counted a total of 54 guests. So much for the one-third-won't-show-up rule. And while The Lady of The Evening did not arrive until 9:30, we were too busy rocking out with the life of the party(cc and ray busting out their b-girl moves) to worry too much about it.

Kaiya showed up dressed like Marilyn Monroe with a new guy we had yet to meet. And what a welcome that must have been for him, especially with the 20-minute nostalgic slideshow and body-less photos of her head taped up all over the place. And poor Highcon--who had told Kaiya he wouldn't be able to make it--he spent most of the party concealed in a stuffy Grim Reaper costume disguising his voice and introducing himself to everybody as "Fareed." That worked until someone whose actual name was Fareed showed up, and no one bought the story that Highcon's name had suddenly changed to Julio. But Kaiya was pleasantly surprised.

After the cleanup, sobering up, knocking out and breakfasting on cookies and birthday cake, Highcon, Ri and I deemed it the best party we've ever thrown. The guest of honor seemed delighted and even people we'd never met before said they were impressed. But the icing on the whole thing was when Ri told us how Kai pulled her side during the party and said something to the effect of:
"You know, when you asked me if I wanted a Big Deal birthday party or something small, I chose the more intimate gathering. But later, as you started talking about this Halloween party and I was compiling a list of people to invite, I regretted it. I kept wishing all those people were coming to my party, but I didn't want to ruin the fun of your Halloween thing by saying so. But then when I got here and realized this actually was my party, it just made my year. Thank you so much."
That made it all worthwhile. But seriously, the next time someone proposes a surprise party, that person's going to get smacked in the mouth.


Guyana-Gyal said...

You should think of a career in party/events planning, I think you'll do well.

Sphincter said...

Good job! And then cookies and cake for breakfast? How could it get any better?

velocibadgergirl said...


The best surprise party we ever pulled off almost didn't happen. J-Dog was moving to Chicago and we were late for throwing Evilducky her birthday party, so we decided to have one surprise party for both of them. We told J-Dog the party was for Evilducky's birthday and then told Evilducky it was for J-Dog's going-away.

But then, Evilducky had a craptastic day and car trouble and decided not to come after all. So we had to throw all the food, decorations, favors, and the giant hand-painted banner I'd made into our cars and drive over to her apartment.

We put on our birthday party hats, positioned ourselves with the banner held in front of us and our party horns in our mouths, and then I rang the bell and ran back to take my place in the banner line.

It worked perfectly--she came to the door, saw us out the peephole, and actually opened the door to let us in :D

Jon said...

Sounds like you guys had a pretty good time. As a recent inductee to the 30 club, I can appreciate friends and loved ones going that extra mile to make it a happy birthday. I can also appreciate breakfasting on cake and cookies. Who needs red bull when you can just load up on sugar?