Big Surprise at the End! (…wait for it…)
So yesterday was my birthday. Others always make a bigger deal out of my birthday than I do. Just give me some hot wings and a good movie (one with lots of metaphors and symbolism and a decent karate scene) and that day quickly makes its way up the list to one of the all-time best birthdays. This year my wife was out of town. My son is still living and working in Los Angeles. So my daughter Chera and son-in-law Craig drove in from Knoxville to celebrate. The plan was to go to the annual Renaissance Festival. This was the year I was to tote my turkey leg from the jousting exhibition to the jester’s ribald performance—without a napkin. I was going to back that up with grilled corn on the cob and a deep-fried Twinkie. But the storms changed all of that. Heavy rains cancelled that big chunk of Medieval history. I’m sure I heard the turkeys sigh with relief.
Plan B was the new bowling alley in town. From ax tossing to waxed lanes. But with the storms coming in, bowling seemed to be everyone’s Plan B. Our Plan C (which we made up on the spot) was to play arcade games—and win tickets that you could cash in later for prizes. Plan C it was!
So for the next two hours I rolled ski balls, lobbed extra-bouncy basketballs at too-tiny hoops, threw wobbly footballs into too-tiny holes in the wall, tried to burst a balloon by punching a button that would stop a spinning needle on an intsy-bitsy spot, destroyed loads of military arms by tossing soft plastic balls at a flat screen (that was way fun! Toss a rubbery ball at a tank and KABLEWY!!), shouted insults at Howie and the banker when they asked me “Deal or No Deal?” (I came to play, not deal!), played one game three times before I realized it was broken (thought it was me and I couldn’t stand that), and pulled a giant lever that made a wheel spin around (no skill whatsoever, but I did win 40 tickets on that alone!).
In the end we won over 500 tickets. Enough to trade for a tiny stuffed chicken for the dogs, a train whistle for me (which I used on the way out the door—should have seen the patrons scatter!), and a plastic dinosaur for Sawyer.
Oh yeah, Sawyer is my new grandson. He won’t be here for another 5 months. But now we know that that’s his name—and not Kate. You see, Chera had pictures made this weekend and there’s no doubt: he’s all boy. I found out the day before when I was teaching a class. No one is supposed to have a cell phone in class, but this day I took my call. She gave me the news. Then, as I held the phone up high, I had the whole class congratulate her—just before I gave them their final exam. (I may be sentimental, but I’m also disciplined.)
I’ve put my train whistle away. Now I see it as a priceless keepsake. One day I’ll pull it out so I can teach Sawyer how to blow it just right, so that it sounds like a real train—and then we’ll watch the people scatter!
Best birthday ever.