Our mystery guests have arrived from Florida!
Rev. Frank and Sheri Hawley are not only our dear friends but also the parents of our wonderful daughter-in- law, Meagan. (Unfortunately, their arrival at the Norfolk airport did not coincide with the arrival of one of their two suitcases carrying most of their clothes and toiletries. Yikes. )
Since we will be leaving in a few moments for a marriage retreat that they are speaking at, I am pulling out a favorite post from the archives to share today. It’s especially fun to read this in light of the fact that the particular boyfriend and girlfriend mentioned in this story really did get married!
(Please excuse the smaller format of the pictures; this was taken from my older blogging days when I didn’t know how to change photo sizes. Also, I’m not sure why font on this post is so strange; couldn’t figure out how to change it. Oh well! I know you’ll enjoy the story anyway!)
THURSDAY, JULY 23, 2009
Nathan’s girlfriend, Meagan, emailed me recently and told me that she was planning to fly into Smithfield to surprise Nathan. Since he didn’t think he’d be seeing her again until college started again in a month, I knew he’d be thrilled. Her flight was due at 6 pm, which meant that I would have to pick her up from the airport which meant I wouldn’t be home for family dinner that night. So I creatively concocted a story for Nathan about how I was going to be meeting a new friend for dinner whom I had met through Smithellaneous. I even wrote it on the calendar, “6 pm. Susan.”
Susan. My new friend. My new, imaginary friend!
So everything was all planned out. Every piece was in place.
Until late last week when Nathan casually mentioned to me, “Mom, a friend of mine invited me to go to the beach with his family; I’ll probably be back Tuesday night.”
Meaning he would not be here to be surprised by Meagan on Monday night. Meaning all our careful plans were down the tube.
I stayed calm, played dumb and then immediately e-mailed Meagan. She replied in very mature fashion, “Well, he’ll really enjoy being with his friends and that’ll be a good outing for him. I’ll be okay with not seeing him until Tuesday night.
But then Sunday right as he was leaving, Nathan nonchalantly said, “Oh by the way. My work schedule changed so now I’ll be able to stay at the beach until Thursday night.”
NOT so fine.
Once again I stayed calm. Barely. As soon as he left, Meagan and I were in panicked conversation on the phone. She had been okay with him not being back till Tuesday night, but Thursday night? Not so much.
She said, “WHAT are we going to do?”
What were we going to do, indeed?
Steve, Sarah, Meagan and I started thinking, worrying, stressing, discussing, plotting, planning, and pondering.
The big question was: HOW could we get Nathan to come home without giving the surprise away? We didn’t want to say anything that would make him worry (like Dad’s having an unexpected surgical procedure) or make him overly excited (like we found a job for you on Craigslist where you can earn $100 just by working all day Wednesday.)
Nothing we thought of was workable and believe me, we came up with a whole bunch of plots! And yet, I knew I just couldn’t get on the phone and order my mostly grown up son to come home from vacation for absolutely no reason whatsoever.
I could just imagine that conversation!
“Hi Nathan. It’s Mom. Come home. Immediately. Because I said so.”
After some further discussion with Meagan, I finally just took the plunge. I called Nathan Monday morning, chit chatted a few moments, let a long second unwind and then said, “Nathan do you trust me?”
Then he said, “Uh. Yeah.”
I then asked, “Nathan, do you love me?”
I said, “Okay. If you trust me and love me, then please believe me when I say that I need you to come home on Tuesday night, just for two hours. And since you’re having to interrupt your vacation unexpectedly, we’ll pay your gas home and then back to the beach.”
(I put in the “two hour” detail just to confuse him; I knew that once he got home and saw Meagan, there would be no thought of going back to the beach.)
A long silence ensued while he processed this very strange request.
But he agreed! BIG sigh of relief!
When Meagan talked to him the next time on the phone, he started telling her about this very strange request his mother had made. In fine feminine form, she played along as though she was very puzzled about it as well and said, “Well, be sure to tell me all about it when you find out more details.”
You know, women can be very devious when it comes to plotting surprises for people! In about three days, Meagan and I told Nathan more falsehoods and half-truths than we have told anyone in our entire lives, just to get him home from the beach without suspecting anything.
He was due to arrive at about 5 pm on Tuesday. Steve, Sarah, Meagan and I went through agonies of indecision as we tried to plot out the best way to make the “presentation.” We’d think of something, discard it and think of something else.
Here are two of the “plotting ladies.” Don’t they have such innocent faces?
And here is Meagan, making final preparations for The Great Surprise.
We finally decided we would hide Meagan in Sarah’s closet, one of the places in the house we KNEW Nathan would never go. Sarah and I posted ourselves downstairs a few minutes before five o’clock to listen for the garage door opening so that we could yell up to Meagan to get into position.
Minutes passed. No garage door.
More time passed. No garage door.
And then all of a sudden Steve hollered from upstairs, “I just saw Nathan! He’s coming around the front of the house instead of through the garage!”
I heard panicked running feet from the second floor as Meagan scampered into the closet. Sarah and I burst into action and started furiously doing “normal things” in the kitchen, setting the table, cutting up fruit, etc., trying to look as non-suspicious as possible. (And also trying not to smirk.)
The plan was for Steve, Sarah and I to chat with Nathan a few minutes in the kitchen; then at a certain point, Sarah would excuse herself to go upstairs and get Meagan from her closet. Then Meagan would come down the stairs and suddenly just “appear” in the kitchen,
Which was a good plan.
It was a good plan until suddenly Nathan said, “I need to run upstairs a minute.” Sarah had just that very moment gone up to her room to retrieve Meagan; however, as soon as she heard Nathan’s voice on the stairway, she SHOVED Meagan back into the closet, SLAMMED the door on her and then hid herself beside her book-case to await further instruction. (What we really needed was a bunch of walkie talkies!)
I walked frantically (but calmly) up the stairs behind Nathan, trying to hide my camera, and desperately hoping that Nathan wouldn’t accidentally encounter Meagan before I was able to get myself into prime picture-taking position.
I peeled off from my own personal Nathan Procession as he disappeared down the hall into the bathroom. Racing into Sarah’s room I retrieved the shoved and hidden Meagan from the closet and said, “That plan didn’t work. WHAT are we going to do now?”
Meagan just said she would stand out in the hallway and wait for Nathan to come out of the bathroom. She positioned herself at the end of the hallway while Steve, Sarah and I waited at the other end of the hallway, peering anxiously out of various doorways.
As we waited (Meagan said her heart was pounding so loud she could hear it) we three ladies were suddenly attacked by a terrible fit of giggles; Meagan came sprinting back up the hallway and flung herself back into Sarah’s room, trying to get herself under control so that Nathan wouldn’t hear her.
Right about the same time that she disappeared from her hallway waiting point, the bathroom door opened and Nathan emerged, turning the other direction to head into his bedroom. I quickly stepped into the hallway and said in a very serious voice, “Nathan, son. I need to talk to you for just a minute.”
As he turned around to come back toward me, he suddenly caught a glimpse of Meagan who had stepped out into the hallway with me. She was standing there just grinning. And giggling!
Was Nathan excited about that? Was he happy? Thrilled?
Let’s see if you can guess at his emotions from these pictures.
Do you think any human being could possibly smile any bigger?
Here’s Meagan explaining to him everything that went on in The Great Deception and why she’d had to lie to him repeatedly in order to preserve said deception.
The funny thing is that we did SO well keeping the secret from him the entire time. But you know what? When he was in the bathroom, right before he saw Meagan, he happened to glance at the shower and saw this.
He thought to himself, “Hmmmm. I don’t think Sarah uses those brands.” And a little snigglet of suspicion entered his brain.
For crying out loud! What kind of a guy is so observant that he would notice a particular brand of shampoo and come close to unraveling an entire, well-plotted plan because of it? Fortunately, the unveiling was only thirty seconds away, so he didn’t have too much time to ponder.
I will leave you with one more picture representing a surprise well executed, lies well told, and two very, very happy people.