I turned 30 in March, and I was a little worried about it to be honest. I decided the best way to deal with it was to spend my birthday hanging out with as many friends as possible. I spent the year before living in Austin, where I knew a lot of fabulous people so I headed south. I stayed with my friend Regina, and she was in charge of making arrangements for a laid back birthday celebration. I told her that I would be fine so long as no one tried to make me feel bad (no black balloons, please) and no one tried to cheer me up (“Thirty is the new Twenty!” or “Don’t worry! There’s still plenty of time to meet a nice man!”) Sometimes nothing can make you feel worse than someone trying a little too hard to make you feel better.
Regina and her roommate, Colleen, agreed to arrange a quiet dinner with a few friends. Secretly, though, they made a plan to take it to the next level and made it a phenomenal way to ring in the next decade of my life.
It’s like this: I told Reg that I just wanted to see everyone and hang out a bit. I contacted a few people including my buddy Ben, but it turned out he and his wife, Charlotte, were going out of town. Lame. Everyone else could make it, and we planned dinner on Saturday night at my friends Meg and John’s house
That night, as I was getting ready to go to dinner, Colleen thought it would be “hilarious” to “joke” about how they hired a male stripper for me. Ha? I knew they weren’t serious because Regina knows that I find male strippers cheesy and weird and that I would not find that sexy so much as deeply uncomfortable. Still, Colleen committed to this story and spun a whole narrative yarn about the stripper’s name being Chip and he’s coming after dinner, etc. Somehow this led to a conversation about Sarah Silverman’s “I’m f*ing Matt Damon” video and the corollary, Jimmy Kimmel’s “I’m f*ing Ben Affleck.” I’m not sure how that segue worked in retrospect, but I hadn’t seen them, so Colleen found them online. I was laughing my ass off when the doorbell rang. I was closest to the door, so I opened it.
And I saw this:
There’s nothing and no one else around, so I’m confused and just the tiniest bit freaked out. Tell me there’s not something vaguely terrifying about that balloon.
I felt like I stood there for half a minute and was no closer to figuring the whole thing out when I heard: “SURPRISE!!!” and people started popping up from cars parked across the street. I yelled back, “Somebody out there better be a stripper because I was promised!” I’m sure the neighbors were thrilled to know that about me. Plus, I love how I’m all for a male exotic dancer, as long as there is zero chance of one showing up.
In those first few moments, several great things happened at once. First, Regina told me about two weeks before that she and Meg thought about giving me a surprise party, and I was like, well, since you told me about it, I guess you passed on that idea. So, the surprise was totally hidden in plain sight, which is great. Also, Regina and Colleen later confessed that they were really worried about spilling the beans. They give me credit for being more clever than I am, and they were sure I’d figure everything out. Colleen was afraid I’d realize she’s showing me You Tube videos about people having sex with Matt Damon to stall for time, although I figured she knew I would think it was funny because….that’s exactly the sort of thing I would find funny. Everyone was a few minutes late with the surprise, but I missed the fact that we were supposed to leave the house 5 minutes ago. When the doorbell rang, they were relieved that things were happening. Only no one told them about the creepy balloon staring at us all from the porch with its big vacant eyes. So, not only was I surprised, but behind me, they, too, were confused. Surprises all around!!
People started filing in, and I was thrilled. Meg and John! Shar and Salim! Lena! Mike! Mike, who made lunch plans with me that afternoon even though he knew he would see me in 4 hours! Oh, Mike! Ben! Wait, Ben? He wasn’t out of town, and as soon as I saw him, I called him a liar. He gave me a huge hug and handed me a beer, so all was forgiven. In fact, the balloon was Ben and Charlotte’s idea because while she seems like cutest blonde chick you’ve ever met, Charlotte is an evil genius. My friend Paul, who lived in Boston showed up with Guinness (bless him!). Will from San Antonio walked in, and the whole thing was like the final episode of ‘Seinfeld’ where everyone comes back. It was surreal but totally fabulous. I can’t think of a better way to have spent my 30th birthday.
Why am I telling you all that? Because Regina turns 30 this week. I felt bad that I wasn’t able to drive to Austin and celebrate with her, but then again, she wasn’t there either. She had to work out of town. She made sure I rang in 30 with style, and I wanted to thank her again. I also wanted to say:
Happy birthday, lady!