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Friday, May 20, 2016

In which the Farmer becomes a “sexagenarian.” Really. That’s what it’s called.

The Farmer turns 60 this month. We celebrated with something that I will likely never undertake again, as long as I live. I booked the Legion hall and threw him a surprise party.

I started planning the surprise months ago. I sent out the invitations, booked the hall and gave our girls their individual assignments for slideshow, music playlist, birthday cake, décor. I don’t know what I would have done without their help and the help of my mother and sister and friends. But when it came to the development of a believable fib that would get my husband to his own surprise birthday party on time, I was on my own. And I’m a terrible liar.

The anxiety set in about two weeks before the event. I worried he would make real estate appointments for the night of the party, or he just wouldn’t feel like going out. Someone asked how would I get him to the hall on time? I decided I would tell him we were going to the surprise 40th of a girlfriend of mine. “Which friend?” she asked. “It has to be someone he doesn’t know very well, but knows well enough to want to go to her party. You need a backstory. You need to know her birthdate, her middle name….” It worries me how much thought my daughter puts into telling a lie. She’s good.

The morning of the party, I still hadn’t told my husband that we had plans that night. Finally I blurted out, “it’s Mr. Stover’s retirement party tonight. You know, he taught with my dad for years.”  I gulped. He said ok. Then he said he planned to spend the day running around doing real estate stuff, and he would drive into the city to visit his dad. Good, I thought. Because I have to spend the day zipping around town buying decorations, getting my hair done, picking up helium balloons, collecting and testing audiovisual equipment and setting up the hall. I didn’t need to run into him.

On my first trip into town to pick things up, I ran into him. His eyes followed me as I drove on by. I smiled, waved and gulped. I should have been at work by then and he knew it. I sent him a text message. “Late for work! We need to be at the hall by 7:30 for speeches…” I got an “x” in return. I thought he was on to me. The adrenalin was upsetting my stomach.

We were late getting access to the hall and being technologically un-inclined, the set-up of the slideshow took me a lot longer than expected. I needed to get home to whip up the spaghetti I had promised the birthday boy for dinner.

After our meal, “We don’t have to be the first ones there, do we?” he asked. “Uh, no, but I don’t want to miss the speeches,” I reminded him.

When we pulled up to the building, one of my friends was outside, smoking a cigarette. When she recognized my truck she ran in to assemble everyone. Climbing the steps to the hall, the Farmer says, “Who is this party for, again?” He is 60. We are both getting forgetful. My heart was pounding. I had almost succeeded in surprising him. Then he saw the slideshow of our photos on the wall. He stopped and peeked around the corner. I had to pull him into the room.

“Oh no you didn’t,” he said. Everyone jumped out then to surprise him, and I could relax. I thought I was going to have a heart attack. The adrenalin rush was a bit much. I really don’t think I will be doing that again. But I think the Farmer was pleasantly surprised, and a little overwhelmed. Mission accomplished.
Most people don’t believe me when I tell them the Farmer is sixty years old. He looks much younger than that – but then, sixty is much younger these days. People don’t really retire –they just switch focus. Today’s pre-seniors spend more time pursuing quality of life – hobbies and activities they enjoy. After retiring from teaching, my sixty-year-old is working on his new career as a real estate agent. In his spare time he is cattle farming, building a log cabin, cooking Sunday dinners for up to twenty people a week and spending time deep in conversation with his new granddaughter. Life is looking pretty good at sixty. And the age comes with a sexy title.


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