“But why would you give me clues if you don’t want me to know?” Marnell asked me this morning at Granma’s House of Pancakes.
“Well, I want it to be…suspicious,” I said. “No, not suspicious… I mean…”
“It’s certainly suspicious,” he said.
I was, laughing and trying to think of a better word, when the waitress walked up.
“Are you newly weds or something?”
“Almost,” Marnell said.
“I could just tell,” she said triumphantly. “I’ve been walking by here three times and you have that sparkle in your eye when you look at each other that is new love!”
She walked away.
“I meant, I want it to be mysterious, not suspicious,” I finished.
I remember the very night last February when I was lying in bed, unable to sleep, texting my aunt about this strange guy who suddenly appeared in my life, and she text me the shocking news that his birthday was October 15th, my mom’s birthday and a significant date in my life.
I remember how I added it to my document called “Handwriting on the Wall”, which, as you may remember, subsequently disappeared.
Now, it’s almost October 15th, and I began to puzzle about how on earth you celebrate a guy who’s turning 40. Last Sunday, we had cake and ice cream and balloons at Elkhart church, with a few gag gifts and cards–a bag full of black (black pen, black beans, black notebook, etc) and a shirt with the words “I’ve been upgraded to version 40.0”. My witty friend Velinda from Laurel Street, of course.
I gave him pretzels and a box of Press N Seal since he always admired mine.
“This isn’t my official gift,” I said.
“What IS your official gift?” Collier, our pastor, asked. “That’s what we want to know.”
Unfortunately, I didn’t know either.
Well, I can’t tell you what research I did yesterday, because Marnell reads my blog, but I managed to hunt down something that he had mentioned to me once as something he was interested in. I text him and asked him if he can get off work a little early on October 19th to meet me in Elkhart by late afternoon, for something special for his birthday that needs to be done during normal business hours. Don’t worry, it’s not a party, I told him by email, and he replied saying he thought he could make it.
Last night, we went to a book-signing for my friend Luci, author of Anything But Simple, then grabbed hot dogs from the Weiner Shack food truck parked on Main Street for Goshen’s First Fridays.
“I could tell you what I’m planning for your birthday,” I said before we left the house. “But I guess I’ll wait.”
As we were waiting in line for the food truck, with people spilling all around us on the sidewalk in the darkness, I said, “I wonder if I should tell you what I’m planning for your birthday?”
Marnell burst out laughing.
“You’re way more worked up about this than I am,” he said.
Later, as we sat at Jo-Jo’s pretzels (eating more carbs, yes) amid the racket of children and teenagers, I said, “The only reason I would tell you my plans for your birthday….”
He laughed again, harder each time.
“Well, I just don’t want you to be expecting something TOO fantastic,” I explained. “Because it’s not necessarily anything major, it’s just interesting. And it fits you. So maybe I’ll give you clues. But I already gave you a clue by saying it fits you.”
“So what kind of clothes are you getting me that fit me?” he asked, just to twist my words. “And it has to be done during normal business hours.”
“And that you mentioned it to me once,” I said. “So no more clues today. Maybe I’ll give you another clue on your actual birthday.”
So, at Granma’s House of Pancakes, I added another clue, because I hadn’t given him one for 12 hours.
“We’re going,” I said, “to a place I didn’t know existed.”
“Do I know it exists?” he asked.
“Well,” I said, “I don’t think so.”
“Maybe I’ve already been there 500 times,” he said.
“Oh dear,” I said, “that would be a flop.”
“But it will be fun anyway, because I’ve never been there with you,” he said.
I wonder what the odds are that I’ll keep my secret?
Anyway, if you see him, wish my dear a Happy 40th Birthday next Sunday!