Not to be dramatic or anything, but I almost died these past few months.
Because I was planning a surprise 50th birthday party for my father with my mother.
Let me just tell you, in case you're confused as to why planning a party with my mother would almost kill me. Planning a party with my mother is like trying to plan a party with Helen Keller.
Translation: she doesn't listen, and she can't get anything done on her own.
We started planning it in September, and as we got closer to the date, we were fighting on the phone at a more rapid pace. In the last phone call I had with her, when I landed in Buffalo as my cousin secretly picked me up at the airport, I said, "I can't wait to see you so I can fucking strangle you."
I wasn't joking.
Here's what happened throughout the two months this was going on:
FIGHT #1: I didn't want to use invitations that are cheesy. You know the kind—the ones that make ridiculous age jokes that aren't even remotely funny. So, I went to the different card-making sites where you could upload your own designs, but even those restricted you to some cheesy template and the font choices for your text are like Comic Sans and Times New Roman. So, I decided I would design the whole thing myself and get the printer that prints our magazine to do it for me for $100. My mother cannot BELIEVE that I'm going to spend $100 on invitations, when you can go to Party City and get a pack for $15. I told her to shut up, because it was my money, so why does she care what I do with it? I win.
FIGHT #2: We were holding it at the Yacht Club. But don't think we're really fancy here. My hometown is very small, so think of "yacht club" in small letters, rather than in all caps. So, the way they do things is very different than how I'm used to doing them in the city. They wanted my mother to come down to the club and sign the contract in person. Of course, she couldn't find time to do this, because she was tied up doing something that I'm not aware of, so after yelling "WHY THE FUCK CAN'T YOU JUST GO AND TAKE CARE OF IT," I conceded and asked the Yacht Club to fax it to me so I could sign it and send it back to them. I guess if her goal was to avoid having to do anything, she wins.
FIGHT #3: Ohhhhhh God, the motherfucking guest list. My mother has a huge family, and while some of them are very close-knit, some of them are as estranged as they are strange. When we're paying per head, I just don't think that Aunt Suzie (whom we haven't talked to in like 5 years) and her new boyfriend need to be invited. I also have 35 first cousins on my mom's side alone. A lot of them are my age or older. We decided, in order to keep the guest list under control, we wouldn't invite the cousins. My one exception, of course, was my cousin Jessica, who was 1.) picking me up from the airport 2.) hiding me at her house for a day and a half before the party since it was a surprise that I was even in town 3.) driving me around to run party errands and 4.) delivering me to the party. I think ALLLLLLL of that work justifies an invite. My mom didn't agree. I brought her anyway, because that is just ridiculous. Tie. Jessica got invited, but so did Aunt Suzie and her boyfriend.
FIGHT #4: Perhaps the most important part of a surprise party is coming up with the ruse to get the person there. Since I think about things logically, when you're spinning a lie you want to control as many of the variables as you can. My mother's idea was to print up a fake invitation to a "party" the Yacht Club was holding on Saturday. Of course, the Yacht Club ends up having a real party on Friday, and they send out an invite for that as well as TWO EMAILS reminding everyone about it being on Friday. My father, who is on their email list, is convinced that my mother has the date wrong. This whole thing is about to go up in smoke, and I have to tell my mother that it's all her fault. She hangs up on me. To fix it, I call the Yacht Club and tell them that they have to 1.) Delete him from the email list, so he won't get any more messages saying that the party is on Friday and 2.) Send a fake email being all like, "Oh shit, we made a mistake! It's on Saturday, not Friday!" She wins.
FIGHT #5: How the fuck are we gonna decorate this place? My mother wants to put up a cheesy, cliche photoboard. I say, that it's, well, cheesy and cliche to have a photo board. I try to go the classy route. I tell her, go to the dollar store, and buy a bunch of plain black frames. You can put pictures of him in there and then we can put them all over the tables as decorations. I show up at Jessica's house the day before and my mom has dropped off no framed photos, but instead the worst photo album of pictures you've ever seen in your life. So now, hours before the party, my cousin and I are in a mad dash to JoAnn Fabrics, trying to buy a new photo album to put it together so that doesn't look like Ray Charles made it. "Where are the framed photos?" I ask/scream. "Your uncle is going to drop them off before the party," she says. What photos are they? PHOTOS SHE TOOK OFF OF HIS DESK, LIKE HE WOULDN'T NOTICE THEY WERE MISSING.
OH MY GODDDDDDDD I DON'T EVEN CARE WHO WON ANYMORE.
So, it's over, and despite her best efforts, it was a surprise. Or my father is lying. Regardless, it was a success.
My mom? She celebrated by puking in the driveway on the way home.