Today marks the 20th anniversary of the greatest birthday I've ever had.
It was my senior year of high school (yes, my wife has already established that I am The Oldest Person Ever®), and 1985 had featured three different hijackings: TWA flight 133 by two Shi'ite Muslims, an Egyptian airliner that was stormed by Egyptian troops in Malta, and the passenger ship Achille Lauro by the PLO. My friends and I were sitting around our lockers one morning before Christmas break and someone was reading an end-of-year wrapup in the paper that mentioned these incidents. I then made the following remark: "You know, I've always wanted to be kidnapped." According to lore, my best friend Dave looked at my girlfriend who, in turn, looked at our friend Gail who, in turn, looked at another friend Karen...
And thus, a plan was born.
So, fast forward a few weeks. It's the weekend before my birthday, and I've got a TheaterSports tournament to go to that Friday evening. The minute I get home I get a frantic call from my Mom who asks me to pick up a friend of the family at some address I didn't recognize. This friend cannot drive, so I get back in the car and go to the address. For some reason, the fact that a classmate answers the door doesn't tip me off at all. She shows me in and says that her Mom and this friend had stepped out for a moment and would be right back. So we begin to talk about the English class that we share when all of sudden two tall masked men dressed in black explode out of a closet, push me against a counter, pull my arms behind my back, slap handcuffs on my wrists, and finally blindfold and gag me. They then proceed to lead me out of the house and into the backseat of a big rumbling car. They push me down on the seat, and then proceed to drive me around for almost an hour, thoroughly disorienting me. (Did I mention that "Aida" was playing over the speakers and no one said a word to me?)
At long last, the car stops, the engine dies, and the front doors open. My captors get out and then pull me out of the back seat by my feet. They stand me up and then lead me down a grassy hill and into a building of some kind. The threw me into a chair and then removed the handcuffs. "DON'T MOVE," one of them yells at me, and they both back away. At this point, I begin to feel the presence of other people in the room. A LOT of other people. Someone laughs. Then someone else. "ALL RIGHT," the same guy says, "TAKE OFF YOUR BLINDFOLD." So I do. "SURPRISE!!!" cheers the crowd. I looked around the room and saw everyone I knew. I'm not stretching the truth that much: there were over 50 people there and then I was told the following things:
- EVERYONE I knew was in on this. Even my parents and teachers.
- They had to improvise that day because one person had to bow out for some reason.
- I was the easiest person to fool in the world.
After the party, I was bustled off to the TheaterSports tournament that evening (we came in 2nd place!), and then some quiet time with my girlfriend. All in all, a pretty bodacious day!
I don't suspect that today's events will be quite so dramatic, but I did make a bunch of pulled pork "BBQ" for my birthday lunch. I'll be sharing that with some coworkers along with chocolate cream pie.
So, have a great day today! That's the best present you can give me.