what's really funny is we had been RIGHT AT the airfield where i took joe on joe appreciation day - had we gone another third of a mile, we'd've run into signs for it. but yeah, it's absolutely spectacular & we can't wait to go again when testing4l comes to visit in september. he's already agreed that jumping out of a perfectly good plane is something worth doing. :D
so yesterday, we celebrated joe's birthday. much like years past, i arranged a party & gave him a bit of amazing. this year is special because it's been way too fucking hot in seattle. he LOVES the cold, & though i prefer it warm, we've both been boiling hot this week. inspired, i made something happen...
only joe had the day off, but i happened into him downtown after i was off work. we rode the bus home together, & i mandated that he go directly down to my car & await further instructions. he was sweaty from stomping around town & wanted to rinse off, but i told him he'd rather just go right to my car. he consented, knowing SOMETHING was up, & i came downstairs about ten minutes later with a large paper bag of items. he couldn't see anything inside except for another paper bag & my pillow.
i made him hold the package on his lap while i drove him somewhere - he didn't know where or how far. he was sort of scratching his temple as we pulled into the parking lot of a hotel in bellevue. as we walked into the lobby, i explained that i'd invited some people over, & they were all chipping in to buy him the hotel room for the night - which i would let him make as cold as he wanted without complaint. he loves sleeping with blankets in a freezing cold room.
the room was large - i went for the kingsize suite - & i suggested he could have that rinse now. happy, he jumped into the shower. the room was already starting to cool off when he got out, & i showed him that i'd craftily packed him the things he'd need to stay overnight - contact case, deodorant, fresh clothes.
we hung out in the hotel for an hour or so before people started showing up. i had printed several sheets of a google search for food in the area, & he picked which places he'd like. i called each for a price estimation & such, & he eventually decided on z'tejas, where we'd never been. it had a good range of prices too, so we didn't have to force people to spend thirty a plate if they didn't want to.
i had arranged the whole hotel thing only thursday - joe was supposed to arrange his own gathering this year since several of my friends are out of town & i don't know all of his friends - but lazybones didn't, so i took over. it ended up being awesome, of course, & fortunately nearly everyone was free on friday. i gave them all the hotel info, had them each call my cell for the room number once they arrived, & by ones and twos they showed up & surprised joe. chris & katie came first, then sean & mika by way of several wrong buses, then andrew, raven, & nessa.
we were able to stuff everyone into a couple cars, & drove to the restaurant. it was actually very good, & they even brought joe a piece of their ancho chocolate pie since i wouldn't stop telling the waitstaff that it's his birthday. no one sung, oh well. ;D right as we were finishing, i got a call from the last person i'd invited, & one i knew joe would be stoked to see. directions were slyly given, & ten minutes later joe was thrilled to find tali hugging him, with jason v. in tow.
we all went back to a now frigid hotel room after this, & the presenting began. now, there's lead-up to this, just as there's been every year. about six months ago, joe opened the closet door to find four separate presents, wrapped & sitting at his eye-level, clearly untouchable. i taunted him for MONTHS. every time he'd need a towel, or a screwdriver, or sandpaper - there they were, staring at him. & if i didn't think he was tortured enough, i'd ask innocently, "hey baby?" "yes?" "what do you think is in the closet?" it drove him stark raving. at one point i let him feel one of the packages & sniff another. i kept him thinking by theorizing that they could be four parts of one present, or four individual presents, or maybe none of them are presents at all & i'm going to make him chase all over town on a treasure hunt trying to find his real present. it was grand.
so i set up the camera for this year's video (partly for jessie, who'd just left the week previous to graduate school & couldn't attend, but mostly because it's just so fun to record him being surprised), & started handing him gifts. from the depths of an opaque bag came the first two presents from the closet. he chose the first, one i'd let him touch before - & it turned out to be a small blank notepad. "oh, oops, that's mine. here, i'll just take that," i said, & handed him the squishy package next. one of my shirts. following that was a bag of glow-in-the-dark animals & an electronic timer. everyone was laughing at him, & he was trying to pout - unsuccessfully, because he was laughing too.
so i took out two more wrapped packages, new ones he hadn't seen, & let him pick. he took the smaller one that rattled, & it was... a package of denture cleaner. (works great to clean plaque off oral body jewelry.) he figured the next present MUST be a REAL present, because the bag was empty... & he unwrapped it slowly, starting at the sides. "it's got a zipper," he said, as he folded back the paper, &... it's clearly his own computer toolkit, covered in stickers.
so i said something like, "huh, the bag's empty... maybe i didn't get you anything? i thought for sure i did, though. maybe it's hidden in the room somewhere?" & he jumped up to open drawers & closet doors & look behind tables & lamps, & under the bed... & found the largest package there, about 16" square & a few inches thick. i noted that's why i wanted him to forestall his shower until we got to the hotel room, so i'd have a minute to hide it.
no convoluted packaging this year, just wrapping paper around some packing material - & he unwrapped a painting by the same artist i'd given him the past two years, much bigger than the others. he was amazed, & quite obviously very happy. as far as he knew there were only two of them, & he owned both. i said, "the first year, i told you the second painting had been purchased already. the second year, i explained that it HAD already been purchased - by ME. & i told you i didn't have any others... well, at the time i said that, i didn't."
i continued on that jessie had contacted the art gallery, who contacted the artist, who allowed her phone number to be given to jessie, who gave it to me. i called the artist, who was out, but i spoke for a half hour with her MOTHER who gave me the artist's email address. she wrote me, & sent images of the other three paintings in existence - she'd only made five because they take forever. so i looked at the jpegs, then waited a few days, & picked the one that was still in my mind: blue and brown inks on white paper, unique as joe's other two are single color - blue on white & white on black. she shipped it in, & i hid it in the dresser under my clothes for MONTHS.
what's extra funny, as i told joe, is that he'd SEEN the package when it arrived - we happened to be coming home together, & he saw it before i did. he didn't recognize the name on the return address, but i was scared he'd figure it out, so i told him it's just something i ordered from ebay... & the very next day, i put four wrapped presents in the closet to deter him further. needless to say, my ruse worked.
i promised him no tricks this year though, i'm absolutely not giving him a fourth one. threes are good, but he doesn't need to own the entire collection. he's getting something different next year, & i already have some ideas in mind... ;D
so we stayed up until 2 or 3 am hanging out, a bunch of friends in a freezing hotel room, telling stories & jokes & laughing & trying not to get kicked out for laughing so loudly. it was a great time, & everyone got out of the freak seattle heatwave for a while. i rule.
i'll link his reaction post here when he makes it. :)