The whole day was absolutely wonderful, top to bottom. I had spent the day before cleaning up my room, on the off chance someone might come over. And it felt great waking up in the morning to a clean room with sunlight streaming in through the shades. I dressed in the clothes I had set aside the night before (casual, yet the shirt is nice and fits perfectly) and even made my bed, something I rarely do unless I'm expecting a lady friend. <grin>
I walked into my office. There was a mylar birthday balloon attached to my chair, and the office staff sang "Happy Birthday" to me. Then at 12:30 we had Thai food delivered for lunch, followed by a huge birthday cake. The rest of the work day was spent making journal posts and goofing off on the web.
Here are a couple of pictures from the work celebration. Here's the cake:
And here I am about to cut the cake:
The night before my birthday, Tubby had asked me what time I was coming home on Thursday. "What time do you need me to be home?" I asked. He said it didn't matter, that he just was curious what time I was coming home. I said I could be home by 6:30. A few minutes later he came back and asked me if I was sure I wanted to be home at 6:30, if I didn't instead want to wait until 8 p.m.
So I needed to stall. I stayed an hour longer than planned at work, playing Settler's of Catan on-line. (I won 2 out of 3 and am currently on a 5-out-of-6-games winning streak since last Friday.) Then I headed off to Barnes & Noble BU Bookstore, where I met up with Keya and bought myself three books: Isaac Asimov's I, Robot, Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist, and Garry Wills' Papal Sin: Structures of Deceit. As I was leaving, I tried hinting two or three times to Keya that she should leave ahead of me. She didn't quite get the hints until we were outside, standing next to my truck, and she realized that she was parked in the parking garage a couple of blocks away and is a slower driver than I am. "I'm going to beat you home," I told her. "Drive slowly," she said. I drove slow[u]er[/u] than usual and took a slightly longer route, but we still arrived at my place at the same time. I lingered at the car a bit gathering my belongings in order to let her get upstairs -- and to greet danger_chick, who had just arrived herself.
I knew some people knew I knew about the "surprise" party, so I decided to toy with those who didn't know I knew. I called JC's cell phone, knowing full well he'd be at my place. "Hey, I was wondering if you wanted to go to a movie tonight. There's an 8:40 showing of Master and Commander at the Capitol. I'm about 5 minutes from home, so I figured I could drop my stuff off at home and swing by to pick you up." JC put me on hold, ostensibly to check his schedule or something, then came back on to tell me he'd better pass for tonight, but thank you. Mission accomplished. I replanted the seed of doubt and I had informed the awaiting party-folk to expect me in 5 minutes.
Some people asked me if I knew about the party. surrealestate and treacle_well reasoned that I must have known, given the strange timing of this post yesterday. danger_chick and I had discussed the party plans earlier in the afternoon, so she knew I knew, but I promised her I would act surprised. There were just too many clues for me not to know. There was the fact that I had said I wanted a surprise party. There was Tubby the night before taking a keen interest in my work schedule. There were the party favors I accidentally stumbled across while looking for certain spices. There was the strange behavior of a couple of people at work the day before, asking if "tomorrow is a special day" and if I had any plans -- or the one fellow who said outright, "I'm sorry I won't be able to make it to your party tonight, but happy birthday pre-birthday-party!" "Um, it's a surprise party." "No -- wait, no, you were on the e-mail list." "What e-mail? No, I wasn't." "Oops, sorry dude." I figure if someone really wants to surprise me, the party will be about 7:30 or 8 in the morning: I'll roll out of bed, walk out of my room to go to the bathroom, and be greeted by a throng of friends shouting, "Surprise!" That I wouldn't expect!
Seriously, though.... Although the fact of the party wasn't a surprise, I was pleasantly surprised by the attendance (or lack thereof) of some. I was surprised to see jwg and rsc, and I was surprised not to see fj, bitty, bubblebabble. I was also pleased that we had such healthy attendance on a school night. I had 13 well-wishers on the 22nd, which is great since 13 and 22 are my two favorite numbers. Those in attendance were JC, Keya, Dan, Scotty, George, Emily, pinkfish, jwg, rsc, danger_chick, surrealestate, treacle_well, and Tubby, who organized it all.
I had a fantastic time. I had several conversations, running the gamut from meta-politicians to opera to pugs to fruit salad jello with mayonnaise and whipped cream. Speaking of which, we had delicious food, Thai and barbecue, followed by a sumptuous raspberry chocolate cake. (pinkfish, I found out afterwards that we also had carrot cake, so you needn't have missed dessert. Sorry.) We watched a little bit of Jon Stewart bashing the Democratic candidates. And my friends even seemed to get along with each other.
I also got to finish up my Christmas gift giving and receiving. I had one gift left I hadn't given yet, and JC and Dan & Keya had gifts for me. JC gave me a box of Crayolas, to make me feel young, and the John Carpenter Horror Pack 4-DVD collection which includes The Thing, They Live, Prince of Darkness, and Village of the Damned.
Keya and Dan pulled me aside into Tubby's room to give me their Christmas gift because they didn't want to make others feel uncomfortable. (And I hope nobody did, because the fact that I had a party with my friends is all I wanted for my birthday!) Anyhow, they handed me a card and a decorative gift bag with some orange tissue paper inside. Before I opened the card, I told them about the adorable card my co-workers had given me earlier. Then I opened the card from Keya and Dan:
"I'm glad we decided not to get the other one," joked Keya. I just had to pose with the card, so y'all could see the striking resemblance:
Then I pulled the real gift from the bag. It took me a moment for my mind to process what I saw:
I just had to show this gift off, especially to jwg and rsc, who share a love of opera. I'll be checking out the BLO and Met schedules soon to choose $200 worth of opera to watch!
As the evening began to wind down, seven of us started a game of Winner-Take-All No-Limit Texas Hold'em. We each bought into the game at $5 and the winner would walk away with $35. Emily and JC should have been knocked out early, but George felt generous and refunded them with his at-the-time-generous stash. Eventually, though, I managed to knock Dan out of the game, and it was just JC and me battling for the $35. He started with the chip lead, but then I took it from him. But my luck started to turn around 4 a.m. I was getting some good hands and betting aggressively, but JC was getting even better hands. At about 4:30, I decided we needed to end the game if I had any hope of getting to work the next day, and if we both held to our betting patterns we might be there all night and day. So I went "all in" with an ace and 6 off suit, but JC folded. Two hands later I went "all in" again, this time with a jack-king suited in the pocket. Jeff called and we showed our hands. To my horror, he had pocket nines. But when the flop was played, one of the three cards was a jack, so I now had a pair of jacks to his pair of nines. However, the turn was a 9, giving him three nines and an almost insurmountable lead. I needed the river to be a jack in order to win the hand, stay in the game, and dent JC's stash. Cry me a river! -- the last card wasn't a jack, and JC (who incidentally had inherited Scotty's chips free of cost and had been kept alive by George's generosity) walked away with the $35 pot. It was a fun game, though, and certainly worth the $5 I lost. I would so love to have a regular monthly Winner-Take-All No-Limit Texas Hold 'Em night with 5 players at $20 entry fee for a $100 pot, but I doubt I'll find 5 interested individuals.
Anyway, I wanted to thank all of you again for making it a very special birthday. And it really was one of the most enjoyable birthdays I've had. Thank you!