I got quite a giggle out of reading Kim Pugliano’s recent post where she complains about her partner’s tendency to leap out and scare her at irregular intervals. It got me thinking about my own relationship, and the fact that I’m the one who tends to do the scaring. I’m the one hiding behind the door, holding my breath to stop from giggling, while I wait for poor, unsuspecting Husband to walk past so I can leap out at him. I’m the one hiding behind 4-year-old Big Brother’s bed so I can launch an unsuspected tickle-attack on him. But, on the other side of the coin, I’m the one who organises surprises.
Once, I organised to surprise Husband with a few days at a resort. I dropped Big Brother at his Nana’s house, and told Husband that Nana had specifically requested some time with her grandson. Then I sent Husband to the shop for something trivial, quickly packed our bags, stowed them in the boot of the car, and waited for him to come home. Once he was there, I suggested that, since we were child-free, we go for a nice long drive. The resort-island can only be reached by ferry, and you check-in at the ferry terminal on the mainland. Husband had no idea what was happening until I told the attendant that we were booked in for three days. The smile on his face was priceless.
Another time, he’d been feeling a bit low, so I decided to surprise him with a 10-day, all-expenses paid tour of Tasmania. I secretly met with a friend of his, and the two of us worked out a tour and suitable dates. Then I booked and paid for my husband’s trip, and his friend booked to go on the same trip. The plan was to wait until the day before he was due to leave, and then give him all of his travel documents, and en envelope full of spending money. Sadly, he changed jobs and I had to confess to the surprise a few months in advance (so he could book leave), but he was still stoked.
But not all of my “surprises” have worked out quite so well. In fact, we have a legendary tale that we call: The Worst Anniversary Surprise Ever. Ever. (Yes, it needs to be said twice.)
It was our second anniversary, back when Husband was really still Boyfriend, and we were happily living in sin. We’d planned to do something nice to celebrate, but at the last minute, I was asked to go away for work. It was a great opportunity, and it didn’t seem prudent to turn it down. So, after much discussion, I decided to say yes to my career calling.
The workplace was about an hour and a half from home, and I was set up in a dodgy hotel for two weeks. The night of our anniversary rolled around, and it just happened that we finished work at 4:00pm.
“Hey!” I thought to myself. “If I leave now, I could be home by 5:30! Then we could go out for dinner, I could sleep there, and as long as I leave by 5:30 in the morning, I can be back in time for work tomorrow.”
Awesome idea, right. Awesomely awesome. But, of course, it wouldn’t be nearly so amazing if I called and gave Boyfriend/Husband notice that I was coming. I wanted to surprise him.
So I drove home. The traffic meant that I didn’t actually get there until almost 6:00. Then I hesitated outside the front door. Husband wouldn’t be expecting me… If I just walked into the house, he might think I was a robber and bash me over the head. So I knocked.
Husband opened the door. His eyes widened, and he looked around in horror. “Jo!” he said. “What are you doing here? I haven’t cleaned up.”
Not to be dissuaded, I smiled and said, “Happy anniversary! I’m here to take you out to dinner.”
He was thrilled, and I went inside to find that he was right. He hadn’t cleaned up. There were discarded take-out containers everywhere. But that didn’t matter. The important thing was that I was home. Of course, the second most important thing was that I hadn’t booked a restaurant.
Husband went to have a shower and get ready, and I frantically flicked through the phone book, looking for a restaurant where we could get a table at super-late notice. I found one located on the waterfront about half an hour away. (In the opposite direction to where I was working. Take note. This will be important later.) Their latest seating time (on a Wednesday night) was 7:00pm. I promised we’d be there, and hung up. Job done.
Then I started thinking… “You know, if we’re driving all the way up there, maybe we should stay the night. There’s bound to be a nice bed and breakfast nearby.”
So I flipped through the phone book again, and called around until I found a little B&B that had a room vacant. Check-in was by 7:00pm. I booked the room, hung up, and felt pleased with myself. Then I raced into the bedroom, packed an overnight back for us, stashed it in the car, and waited for Husband to be ready.
It was 6:30 when we left home. My plan was to head to the B&B, pick up the key and drop off our bag, then head straight to the restaurant. Of course, I didn’t tell Husband any of this. That would ruin the surprise.
We chatted happily until we reached the waterfront, and then I followed the directions I’d been given by the B&B and found… nothing. Huh. Must have followed the directions wrong. I went back to the beginning and tried again. Nothing. Damn it, I couldn’t find the stupid B&B. It was after 7:00, and I had no idea where it was, and back in those days I didn’t have a mobile phone, let alone mobile internet.
So I gave up. I’d ditch the overnight stay, and we’d just go to the restaurant. So I drove along the foreshore, and found… nothing.,
Damn it, how could a restaurant be s o hard to find!
I drove up and down that street half a dozen times to no avail. Husband, in his patient boredom, started reading out signs as we drove past them. Again and again. Suddenly he said the name of the restaurant I was looking for. I hit the brakes. In the middle of the street. “What?!” I demanded.
He repeated the name.
“But that’s the place I’ve been looking for!” I said, as though it was his fault.
He shut up, I parked the car, and we went in. It was 7:20 by this stage. The staff were lovely and let us take our seats. Then they asked for our orders. We ordered drinks and meals, and I explained to Husband that I’d been looking for the B&B but couldn’t find it. Then I had a Stupid Idea.
“I know. You have a drink, and I’ll dash out and try again.”
Off I went, abandoning Husband, alone, in a restaurant on our anniversary. I drove up and down for ten minutes, and then gave up. I went back empty-handed, just in time for our meals to be brought out. I had a drink, we ate, and talked for a few minutes, and then the waitress, who’d overheard our conversation, brought out a map. She knew where the B&B was, and showed me how to get there. So I quickly finished my dinner, ordered dessert, and then abandoned Husband again.
I arrived at the B&B at about 8:00, and was able to check-in and get the key. (The lady said she had a “feeling” I’d be along.) Then I dashed back to the restaurant, just in time for dessert to be delivered.
We ate, talked briefly, and by 8:20 the staff were cleaning up around us and giving us those hints that you get when you’ve overstayed your welcome. So we paid and left.
Who am I kidding?
I was exhausted. We climbed into bed and I was asleep before Husband had even turned off the light. The last thing I remember him telling me was that breakfast was served between 6:00 and 9:00 in the morning.
If you did your maths, you’ll note that I needed to leave by 5:00am to be back to work in time.
Worst anniversary surprise ever. Ever.
Tell me I’m not the only one. Share your surprise-gone-wrong stories!