Tonight I'm attending a surprise 50th birthday party for a friend of my husband. I’m cringing for the friend at the thought of it and hoping he is the kind of man who will take it all in his stride.
I have been thinking about the whole surprise theme and can’t help wondering if surprise parties are ever really a surprise to the star of the show?
I was victim, sorry but that's how it felt, of a surprise party on my eighteenth birthday. I didn’t like it for two reasons. Firstly, when you are born on a day that is mainly associated with witches, black magic and all things spooky, the last thing you want to do is broadcast it. I spent my childhood being teased about my witchery ways. I now realize it was mostly meant in jest but at that age I took it a bit too personally.
The other reason I didn’t enjoy the surprise was that I knew it was coming and not wanting to upset those who’d arranged it, I went along with it. The behaviour of those around me in the weeks leading up to my birthday became subtly odd. Lots of little things that happened, snippets of conversations overheard, all led me to my discovery. That moment when I walked into the building knowing that all those sets of eyes would be cast in my direction made me feel faint and sick. If there hadn’t been someone behind me blocking my escape route I would have undoubtedly turned and ran! I am not the kind of person who relishes the limelight and was disappointed that those around me chose to ignore this fact. After my initial embarrassment, I circled the room chatting to friends I hadn’t seen for a while.
I have never understood why the people closest to me had decided that I would enjoy being starlet for the evening. Didn’t they know me at all, or did they think that I was just pretending to be shy?
The star of tonight’s party doesn’t strike me as the outgoing, life and sole of the party type either, and if he were, surely he would have mentioned that he wanted to celebrate his half century in this very public manner.
While others in the room get ready to shout ‘SURPRISE!’ I will be looking for the tell tale signs of someone going along with the pretence.
Have you ever been gifted a surprise party, if so, did you guess it was coming?