Bon Vivant

Jul. 12, 2002 * 1:53 p.m.

Heh heh heh. Man, am I good. I mean, REALLY good. Okay, not to blow my own horn, but if there were a Queen of Elaborate Surprises, I would be it. My dad might be King, but I feel my elaborateness surpasses his.

This past Sunday was my true love's 40th - yes, 40th - birthday. She said it was the best birthday she's had in her not-yet-failing memory. That made me very happy. Because I wanted to make her happy. Last year for her birthday I gave her a bouquet of Tootsie Pops, (hard to beat, I know) but we weren't an item yet. In fact, we had our first kiss the next day. I told her later that she really missed out, because I am the best birthday planner ever. She nodded, not understanding the full weight of my comment. Now she knows.

After making sure she had Thursday through Monday off, I convinced her that I was somewhat unorganized about her birthday (I'll never be able to use *that* one again!) but had something planned for her actual birthday on Sunday. I even had friends make fake plans with her on Saturday to throw her off. I told her that my step-brother B and his very young, athletic girlfriend S (whom we've never met) had invited us up to New Hampshire for an overnight on the 4th of July and that it was S's birthday. (She wasn't overly-thrilled about this, as you can read in her July 3rd entry.) We were supposed to bring a picnic lunch. I forged a lengthy email correspondence and fake directions to a cottage that doesn't exist along I-89 (which runs into Canada). I said my parents (my dad and B's mom) couldn't come, and that it was my responsibility to buy the gift from all of us - a kickboxing bag w/stand, supposedly at Costco. Also, my friend had borrowed my road atlas the week before so she could drive from Wellfleet to NY Pride. I told my honey that she'd lost it and that I'd buy a new one at Costco. (All part of the plan.) While she was hard at work at Home De(s)pot on Wednesday night, I packed our overnight bag and then packed two large bags separately (with a map of Montreal and a French phrase book tucked into a front pocket), putting them in an oversize box, wrapping it like a gift, and putting it in the bed of my pickup. (This was the "kickbag," of course.)

We headed out Thursday morning and my woman, who likes to be in control, had the fake directions clutched in hand, asking if I'd bought the atlas. I said I had, then after several moments of feigned confusion, confessed to accidentally having wrapped it in with the kickbag. Supressing her frustration, she helped navigate us onto the correct highways and into New Hampshire. I'd hoped she'd fall asleep before we got near the exit where the cottage was supposed to be (Exit 11), because there was no way in hell she would let me pass up the exit. Which is what I needed. (I could have mismatched the exit number and name, but I was afraid she's print out her own Mapquest directions in advance and blow my cover.) As we approached Exit 11, I created a disturbance with water bottles, coffee cups, and petty bickering. "Honey, you just passed Exit 11!!" (Success!) She suggested we get off at the next exit and turn around. I explained my hesitation to do so, considering that wasn't guaranteed to get us back. I pulled over, suggesting that she get the atlas from the box in back. I gave her a pocket knife to cut the tape. She was getting vexed. I waited in anticipation as she sliced off the box top. "Honey, there's luggage back here!!" (Still irked.) I got out of the car. "Hmm, that's strange." I wait. Nothing. She either suspects grand-theft-kickbag or that I can't tell the difference between a suitcase and athletic equipment. I give her a hint. "What are those?" I inquire, pointing to the map and phrase book peeking out of the bag. She examines them. "A map of Montreal! And a French dictionary!" (Still quite peeved.) Man, she must think I'm a total moron. This is getting good. Refusing to spell it out for her, I stare at her until (thank the goddess and her minions) the lightbulb goes on. "Are we going to Montreal??" Needless to say, she was just a bit chagrined.

We ate the picnic lunch during the six-hour drive and laughed at her vexation. I explained that the pets were being taken care of and that our friends were taping "Alias" for us so we wouldn't miss it. She jokingly asked if S is really B's girlfriend, and if B is really my step-brother, or if it was all part of the plan. She's right not to put it past me. :)

The trip itself was as carefully planned as the ruse preceding it. It didn't hurt that the International Jazz Fest was still going on, the gay village was roped off all weekend for a huge art festival, and the International Fireworks Competition is every Saturday in July. We stayed at a gay-owned B&B the first night and the rest of the time just down the street at a women's B&B. We had reservations at several highly-recommended restaurants and tickets for a jazz vocal/guitar concert - all of which were incredible. Throughout the weekend, we milled around the jazz fest and the art fest, went to a (French) cabaret, saw the Austrian fireworks display, shopped, and did a hell of a lot of walking. She even picked up French surprisingly well, to my delight.

On her birthday proper, we went to a famous diner and had chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast (a requirement on her birthday). She got cards from me (and the dog, and the cat - get that finger out of your throat this instant!) as well as a July 7 birthday book, and a P-town tank top and zippered sweatshirt I'd gotten the week before. The pièce de resistance was the little routine I'd practiced for two weeks prior, to "Baby Did A Bad Bad Thing" by Chris Isaak. Let's just say the title was appropriate.

When we got home, her friends surprised her with a backyard BBQ, complete with presents, homemade ribs and a Cheesecake Factory birthday cake. I think she felt how well-loved she is. (You can read it from her perspective if you like.)

You know how some people get more and more on your nerves the more time you spend together? Especially during vacations, when you're supposed to be having a good time? And on car trips, when you're in very close quarters? Well, I've been there before and I'm happy to say, never again. I found me a gal who knocks the rootin'-tootin' socks off a barrel o' fun, who neutralizes my whiney and compulsive tendencies, who operates at the same pace I do, who likes to hunker down in our cozy home and likes to take off at a moment's notice to see the world. Whee-ha!

I told her not to expect the same level of ridiculous excess next year. (Maybe on her 50th.)

*This is a photo I took at the Gay Arts Festival


Jess Klein, "Draw Them Near"
Paid for my dog's flea and tick bath.
White v-necked button-down jersey, stretchy marroon jeans.

yesterday ><((((º> tomorrow