Surprised again

My friends got me yet again. I was all set to see Jason Falkner and Travis on Friday night, followed by a steak dinner at Morton's, courtesy of one unfortunate loser of a variant of credit card roulette. Peering out of my office into the rain-washed night, I was about to pack up and head to the Moore Theater when I saw the unopened envelope icon on my cell phone. My voicemail contained a message from Jason, garbled by poor reception.
I called him back. What was up? I'd see him at dinner later that evening?
Yes, yes, but first, he was wondering if I might be able to swing by. Jamie and Sadie had made me something that they wanted me to see, and it was perishable.
Sure, I was on my way out and could swing by right away.
Actually, Jason was on the East side, headed home. Could I hold up and come by at 8:30?
Well, I'd miss some of Falkner, but since Pete was going to be late, why not? Couldn't let down Jamie and Sadie, especially if they had spent time baking (I was guessing) something. In hindsight, as I review the sequence of events in my head, the conspiracy comes together coherently, like Tom Cruise finally connecting the dots in Mission: Impossible in a series of flashbacks.

  • An encounter two weeks prior at the PacMed cafe, when someone apologized for having to miss my party. I didn't say anything, but after Sundance it just faded out of my mind.

  • Perishable present? Jamie and Sadie had prepared sushi?

  • Jason said he was on the East side picking up his his LoveSac seat. I had visited Jamie and Sadie the night before and saw the LoveSac, still in its wrapping, sitting in the living room.

  • All the cars lining Highland Drive.

  • All the lights were out in Jason's house. It's usually lit up inside, especially if Sadie is up.

  • All the people wishing me happy birthday in the hallways at work. How did all these people know it was my birthday? Were the years so evident in my ravaged complexion?

  • Jon Voight, playing Jim Phelps, tumbling off the bridge in Prague into the river. That blood--he had faked it, hadn't he? He was the only one with the opportunity to pick off each member of the crew. And that Bible, stamped by the Gideons with the name of the hotel Jim said he had stayed at...

But I have to be honest and say I underestimated my friends and they got me. I realized everything the second I opened Jason's front door and saw the red eye on the camcorder in Jamie's hands. Jason took a big gamble, calling me so last minute, and damn if it didn't work.
But even then if I had in inkling about the party, I had no clue, none at all, that later that evening, when everyone sat me down on the living room sofa, that my sisters Joannie and Karen would walk through the front door with a birthday cake. It was the best surprise yet in what has been an escalating series of unexpected twists. To goof around with my sisters this weekend, what a treat! I'm not an easy guy to surprise, especially since I was bitten by that radioactive spider during a high school field trip, but it's happened to me a few times in the last week and a half.
Only with all the facts before me do I realize what I difficult customer I proved to be for all the party planners. Thanks to everyone who had to deal with all sorts of unexpected and late-breaking obstacles to pull it off. It was completely unnecessary and utterly cool.