I learned something somewhat troubling about myself this past week. I’m a hell of a good liar.
The good news is that normally I don’t lie. I almost always tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. The only exceptions are those white lies told in answer to questions like do these pants make me look fat, to which the answer is always either nope or look, it’s Haley’s Comet.
But this past week-and-a-half, I have been a big fat liar because I decided that since turning 75 is a big deal, Bill needed to have one last birthday party with our AZ family. And I decided to make this party a surprise. Undoubtedly, surprising him would have been a lot more difficult if his birthday had been this past week. But his birthday was October 19, a date long behind us, and once you turn 60, birthdays are quickly forgotten. So are grandkids’ names and the location of your glasses or cell phone, even if they’re in your hand.
The first thing I did was ask Bec if she would be willing to host the family for a shindig in honor of Bill, and she quickly agreed. That agreement took place when we were still in Denver, and we had a number of subsequent and secret telephone conversations, some while I was simply parked down the street from our house. I’m probably on Homeland Security’s short list by now.
The actual lying didn’t begin until we arrived in AZ. We arrived on Monday, and on Thursday I told Bill since I hadn’t yet seen my sister Bec, would he mind if I met her for a cup of coffee. I think I might have even worked up a few tears in my eyes. Since at that point he was still cleaning up the yard, my absence barely registered with him.
We did, in fact, have coffee, and I truly hadn’t yet seen her, so that really wasn’t a lie, right?
Anyway, we made our firm plans on the menu and the logistics. I would tell Bill that Bec had invited us for dinner Saturday night. The rest of the gang would arrive at her house at 3:30, and we would arrive at 4 or 4:15. I would text her when we left the house, and then again when we were about 10 minutes from her place.
On Friday, I told Bill that I had a book club meeting in Chandler, and set off for Bec’s house. Oh what a tangled web we weave. Bec and I, in fact, spent about three hours buying party favors, decorations, food, and beverages. We might have discussed a book at some point, so it wasn’t a total lie.
On Saturday morning, Bill asked what time we were supposed to be at Bec’s. I told him 4 or 4:15. But around 2 o’clock, our best-laid plans became threatened.
“What time do you think we should leave?” Bill asked me. “How about we leave around 3 or 3:15?”
Gulp, because that would get us there around 3:30, right at the same time as the others. I briefly considered simply telling him the truth, but instead I told him that there was no need to go that early because Bec was at Carter’s soccer game until at least 4. That seemed to satisfy him. Good liars think quickly on their feet.
And then around 3:15, he went to the refrigerator and pulled out a beer. “You don’t mind driving, do you? I’m going to have a beer.”
Now, the truth of the matter is I normally don’t mind driving one little bit. But even if it were legal to text and drive, I am simply unable to do so. So (and here is when I realized just how adept at lying I was), I agreed to drive, while, at the same time texting Bec Code Black, Code Black. A change in plans.
I told her that I was driving, so instead of texting, I would call her and innocently ask, “Are you at home?” That would be her clue that we were pulling off the freeway and 10 minutes out.
As we pulled off the 202, I asked Bill to hand me my phone so that I could call Bec to make sure she was home. Bill, being the ever-helpful soul that he is, simply called her himself.
Please don’t answer with something like Surprise Party Central, I thought to myself. She didn’t, of course. But she was surprised to hear his voice, and she was somewhat concerned about all of the background noise, what with all of the kids. Turns out, he didn’t even notice.
When we walked into Bec’s house, everyone did as they were supposed to, and hollered SURPRISE! In fact, there were a couple of horns blowing before we even knocked. I’m pretty sure it was 2-year-old Kelsie. It took Bill a bit to figure out that it was a party for him, but it helped when 3-year-old Lilly came over and handed him his birthday necklace. She was assigned the task because no one else could have talked him into wearing a necklace!…..
He didn’t have a heart attack from shock, the food was delicious, and the birthday cake was yummy…..
Perhaps best of all, it was another excuse to gather as a family that included most of Mom and Dad’s great grands. Carter was at a soccer tournament and Kaiya, Mylee, and Cole were at home in Denver…..
Too bad, because the boys could have used some help in numbers.
Happy birthday Bill, but this is the last time until October 19, 2018.