It’s my party and I’ll glare if I want to

I don’t like surprises.

I have NEVER liked surprises.

I know most people say that, but they’re really ok with them. Like, if they woke up and found that their spouse had bought them a new car with one of those ridiculous huge bows on it, like in the Christmas car commercials, or if they showed up at work and right before lunch their coworkers threw a gigantic surprise baby shower for them, they’d maybe shriek a little, but deep down they’d think “oh, my. Am I ever loved” and they’d be secretly so happy.

Me? Nope. I’d shriek a little, then I’d furiously rearrange my face into what I think would pass for happiness because that’s what’s expected, then I’d go through the motions of whatever was required, like package-opening or little-meatball-eating and such, and when it was all over and I could escape from that, I would probably shake like my own private earthquake and be SO SO ANGRY.

"Do you think they know I'm mad? Do I look happy? I do, right?"

“Do you think they know I’m mad? Do I look happy? I do, right?”

I wouldn’t be thinking I was super-loved. I’d be thinking “THESE PEOPLE DO NOT KNOW ME AT ALL.”

This all sounds very petulant, doesn’t it? Yeah. Sorry. Can’t help it. I don’t like surprises. I don’t like people leaping out at me, and I don’t like people assuming they know what I’d like (unless they know me really well, in which case, they’d know me well enough to know NOT to leap out of a dark corner and trigger my PTSD) and I don’t like things I couldn’t think around corners about. I know that all seems very not-able-to-roll-with-the-punches of me. I’m not the kind of person that can’t go on a spur-of-the-moment trip, or something. I just don’t like that people were talking and planning and scheming behind my back and coming up with something.

This is a very long intro for what I can only deem THE WORST BIRTHDAY OF MY LIFE.

I don’t know how old I was. I’m thinking probably 6 or 7. Yes, it was a long time ago. Yes, I should probably be over this by now. No, I’m not.

It wasn’t my actual birthday. The weekend before, is my thought. I’m guessing a Saturday.

A thing you have to know about young-Amy is: there was nothing, nothing, NOTHING I loved more than running errands with my dad.

Running errands with my mom was a dull affair. You’d go buy groceries and she NEVER let you get a candy bar. You’d end up at K-Mart having to try on terrible dresses that were on clearance FOR A REASON and she got so mad if you hid in the middle of the clothes racks. (I had such a thing about hiding in the middle of those circular clothing racks. It was like my secret wonderland. Yeah, I don’t know, either.) You’d run into friends of hers and have to stand there and they’d talk about the MOST BORING THINGS. Like, clothes-shopping and grocery-shopping. WE JUST DID THAT. Can we go HOME now?

But! Running errands with Dad was the best best BEST. We went to the coolest places ever. Like NAPA Auto Parts which smelled like motor oil and had a gumball machine that he always gave me pennies for and the guys working there were always nice and funny and would cuss sometimes and say, “Sorry, kiddo!” Or to go buy a new car and we’d have to wear our old clothes and “act poor” so the guy would give us the lowest price. Or – possibly best – just driving around looking at things and and he’d tell me stories like “this is the bridge that your uncle told your grandmother I made him pee off, and he was so scared now he’s scared of all bridges, but if he ever tells you that, it’s not true. IT IS A LIE.”

That day, Dad said, “Amy! Do you want to go to the dump?”

DID I WANT TO GO TO THE DUMP? Boy howdy, did I want to go to the dump!



Now, the dump was AWESOME. Don’t even be turning up your nose. The dump smelled terrible, sure. This was long before you paid money and had to have things all neatly recycled. This was a pile of willy-nilly GARBAGE. Couches and dolls and food and dead animals and parts of cars and a million seagulls and everywhere you looked, there was a new thing. The dump was ADVENTURE. And Dad would drive in all fast and it was all hilly in there and the truck would bump all over and I would laugh and laugh.

Shush. I grew up in a small town. We took adventure where we could get it.

So Dad and I packed up into the dump-going truck and I put on my little red riding hood (it was the BEST red hoodie, so I was wearing hoodies before they were cool, yo) and we took off to the dump.

I don’t remember exactly what happened at the dump. I’m going to guess just dump-stuff. Dropping off garbage. Dad saying, “DON’T TOUCH THAT! IT IS FILTHY! WE DO NOT NEED THAT!” (I don’t know if I was ever really going to touch anything at the dump, but I wanted a closer look at it. It was like archaeology of castoffs. I was so fascinated.)

We went home. Now, the savvy grownup that I am would probably have picked up that something was going DOWN, you guys. But I was 6-or-7-year-old-Amy in my sassy red hoodie and a VERY successful trip to the dump on a happy October Saturday behind me, and I wasn’t much of a detective then.

I sincerely felt like Supergirl in my red hoodie. I need to get another one of these things.

I sincerely felt like Supergirl in my red hoodie. I need to get another one of these things.

Now, this is where, if I could find it, I would insert a photo that would make you laugh so, so hard, because it kind of perfectly sums up young-Amy in a single picture, but I have torn this place APART and it is not to be found. I have to assume that my mother has it, because I only have one album of young-Amy photos and it’s not in there.

Instead, I am going to include this very-well-executed internet drawing. YOU ARE WELCOME.

I'm pretty sure I'm the next Warhol, yo. Look right out.

I’m pretty sure I’m the next Warhol, yo. I especially like my red hoodie. It’s perplexingly terrible.

I opened the front door of my house and there was a deafening “SURPRISE!” and my whole family was crammed in there – I mean, all my cousins and aunts and uncles and my mom and my dad was all laughing behind me and you would THINK that would be such a happy surprise for a 6-or-7-year-old kiddo.


I did the same thing I do now, when surprised. I froze, then I made the most fake smile ever, and ever single photo of me from that party – every one – is me with this terrible false frozen party-face on, but with gritted teeth and flared nostrils. I did not want to come home to a house full of people (albeit people I did then, and do now, love.) I did not want this terrible surprise. I did not want this thing that had been plotted behind my back.

My parents are totally apologetic now (even though they still think I’m weird.) They know better than to ever, ever have any sort of surprise function for me ever again, as long as I live, up to and including my funeral. (I have that planned to the LETTER. I just have to hope I die before my parents.)

And just so you know, it’s gotten worse – now, when people jump out at me from behind things, my first reaction has become to protect myself with whatever’s handy. Once it was a painbrush, pointy-side out. Once it was a pen. Once it was a cast-iron fireplace poker. So if you need further proof that maybe you should announce yourself before you get into my general vicinity, there’s that. I really don’t want to stab and/or bludgeon you. I have this fight-or-flight reaction…and it’s totally fighty.

So! Yes. I love birthdays. And Christmas. And, in general, all the holidays. And I will always be happy if you think of me!

Just please, for the love of Pete (and your own well-being) DO NOT LEAP OUT FROM BEHIND SOMETHING SHOUTING SURPRISE AT ME.

Thanks. Love your faces.


(This post was written for the lovely Emily’s Remember the Time blog hop! Have you visited Emily’s amazingness lately? You should! She’s one of my favorite humans!)

About lucysfootball

I'm not the girl with the most cake. Someday. SOMEDAY. View all posts by lucysfootball

25 responses to “It’s my party and I’ll glare if I want to

  • Charleen

    Yeah, I’m too much of a planner. Apparently my husband was toying with the idea of a surprise party for my 30th… until I started planning my own birthday dinner something like three months in advance. Even if he’d managed to get the jump on me, it would have been slightly suspicious when I DID start to plan and he was all like… okay, I don’t even know what kind of excuse he would have come up with. Maybe just go on and let me plan it and then secretly contact everyone I invited? I don’t think he thought that out.

    And if someone DID in fact manage to surprise me, I don’t think I’d be quite as angry as you about it, but it would be a bit of a let down if I thought I had a quiet day at home ahead of me, or even if I knew we were going to A party (just not that it was MY party), because when we go to a party, I psych myself up for a couple hours of mandatory socializing and then I leave early. Sometimes I don’t… but that’s the usual plan in my head, and I at least know that I can. And if suddenly it was MY party, and I didn’t have the OPTION of leaving… yeah, I just think the bad would outweigh the good.

    But if someone managed to come up with a surprise that was actually tailored to me… that would be incredible. Like on Parks & Rec (you watch that, right? I think you’re one of the people who told me to watch that…) when Ron thinks Leslie is planning a huge party for his birthday and it turns out to be a steak dinner and war movies. (Not that I’d want a steak dinner and war movies, but you know…)


    • lucysfootball

      I’m totally a planner, too. I mean, sometimes things happen that are a little spur-of-the-moment, and that’s ok. I’m a lot more flexible (NOT A EUPHEMISM!) than I used to be.

      And I’m totally the same way – I have to steel myself for a party. Being thrown into a party would terrify me. I’d have had no time to prep, I wouldn’t be wearing the clothes I would want to be wearing, I’d panic, like, immediately, as opposed to a couple hours in…no no no. Terrifying.

      And YES! (I love Parks and Rec!) If someone paid enough attention to me to know what I’d really like, and what was perfect for me…well, that in itself would make for the perfect gift. Not even what was done, or what I was given, but the simple fact that someone knew me that well, and paid that much attention to what made me happy? Oh. Happiest of happy sighs.


  • Jenn

    OMG!!!! I hate surprises too! Maybe not as much as you…..and I certainly would like the surprise of say, winning the lottery…. But your post made me think of one of the biggest surprises ive had, when my ex-husband surprised me with a trip to Hawaii!!! All aspects of the trip planned….totally out of my hands. A 10 year wedding annuversary present. Most women would be thrilled, huh? Not me. Of course it didnt help that I was already considering asking him for a divorce. Ugh!


    • lucysfootball

      Ha! Yes, money-surprises are always welcome! I love that you were not happy with a Hawaii surprise. I would ALSO not be happy with that. I mean, a trip? Sure. I love trips. But I would have wanted to be part of the decision-making process! I think a vacation is a terrible gift. I think saying “Hey, want to go on vacation? If so, where? Let’s plan an adventure together!” is sexy and wonderful and romantic, because we could do it together, you know?

      Hee, I’m imagining you on your vacation all “well, THIS is awkward!” Was Hawaii nice, at least?


  • 35JupiterDrive

    Whatever you do, do not make friends with Ellen. This would not work out.


  • gabrieleneumann

    OMG I hate surprises so much. Some anxiety issues + control freak tendencies= hates surprises. I need to at least know, if not plan, what my day is going to look like. Thankfully my boyfriend has gotten used to this by now and just tells me where we’re going to birthday dinner (unlike the first year we were together in which I almost murdered him for wanting to make it a surprise).


    • lucysfootball

      Totally the same thing. Anxiety and control issues. I’d be ok if someone told me where we were going…and I think, if I trusted the person, I’d even be ok if it was somewhat of a surprise…but if I showed up and there were a bunch of people there shouting surprise? No, thanks. We’re breaking up now because YOU DID NOT PAY ATTENTION.


  • zeudytigre

    Loved this. Having read your ‘About’ I was torn between wanting to shout SURPRISE! and attempting to impersonate a spambot (whatever that is). Obviously I am not as amusing as you, but if you hop across to my blog you could find that out for yourself. With this excellent post as your calling card I will follow you, but only on line. Thank you for the smile :)


  • themathmaster

    I want to go to the dump now. :(


    • lucysfootball

      I haven’t been since I was little, but I can’t imagine it would have the same appeal. I’m sure I’d have trouble getting past the stench. (Although, are they as smelly now? They’re all recycley, aren’t they? I don’t even know if they’re called dumps. I think they’re recycling centers? I just have a dumpster, so I don’t know the dump protocol…)


  • cynthiaw

    I don’t like parties anyway, although one with my family would be okay – but not if it was a surprise. About the only surprise that I would be okay with is if Publishers Clearing House showed up with the prize patrol to give me $10 million (or any other massive amount of money).

    If you jump out at me or grab me or sneak up behind me, you will get punched. Hard. In the face. Before I realize who it is. And even then, I will only be a little be sorry that I just broke your face because anyone who knows me should know better than to startle me or touch me without warning.


    • lucysfootball

      Surprise money is ALWAYS ok. I’m in agreement on that.

      I totally attacked BFF once for sneaking up behind me and bear-hugging me. Elbowed and kicked him. Poor guy was on the floor all “Amy! WHY! WHY!” and I had no answer other than “I thought you were a killer.” (In my defense, he was wearing a Halloween costume at the time. A gorilla one, maybe? Something where I had no idea who he was.)


      • cynthiaw

        In my defense, I actually *do* have PTSD and I’m a former Marine, so people who know me well do know better. But, I have had people “forget” and have accidentally hit them – I gotten better over the years, so I’m usually able to pull back before actually hitting someone now. At least at work – which is good because I’m surrounded by small, grabby people all day.

        But…. surprising me in my home or grabbing me when I’m not expecting it is not really a good move.


        • lucysfootball

          I’ve had a few crappy things happen, so mine’s either some sort of low-grade PTSD, or just a really overdeveloped startle reflex. I know I didn’t always have it – I mean, I never liked surprises, but I didn’t use to defend myself so violently. The switch got thrown at one point or another, I guess.

          I’ve only actually made contact once, which is good. I can usually stop myself before hurting anyone, as soon as I see who it is, and that I’m not in any real danger.


          • cynthiaw

            I’ve only actually hurt someone twice- once, I still don’t feel bad about because he snuck up behind me IN THE DARK and put me in a “playful” chokehold (his words, not mine). He was flipped and an arm was broken before I could even blink. He literally scared the hell out of me and it was within months of the triggering incident – so, not sorry.

            The other one, I felt really bad about – one of my cousins jumped out at me and I punched him in the face and broke his nose. As bad as I felt, I think that he felt worse about scaring me so much.

            Every other time, I’ve either been able to pull back in time or at least lessen it to only a smack or light punch by the time that I made contact. I don’t know if I’ve finally gotten a handle on it after 20 years or if everyone just knows better now, but I haven’t smacked anyone in years, lol. I did almost slap a colleague for making a fast move towards my face to show me how cold her hands were, but I managed to clench my fist and pull back in time.


            • lucysfootball

              I warn people. I figure, if they do it again after they’ve been warned, that’s their fault, not mine. If they don’t believe me, if they think I’m kidding or being cute…well, they’ve been warned. And they won’t do it more than twice.

              I’ve only hurt someone once, and it wasn’t bad. The other times I’ve managed to stop myself before anything happened.


  • grrgoyl

    I don’t think I’ve ever had a surprise anything, but I imagine I’d feel kind of the same. Not because of a fighty reaction, but because I can’t stand being the center of attention. Ever.

    That being said, I also ADORED going to the dump with my dad. Didn’t care about the contents so much as being daddy’s little helper (my dad wanted boys. He got three girls. I don’t know if that’s why, but I was an ENORMOUS tomboy growing up and wanted to do everything daddy did. I’d like to think he was secretly pleased).


    • lucysfootball

      See, I’m weird about the center-of-attention thing. I don’t mind it as long as it’s under my control – if I’ve put myself onstage, if I’ve stood up to talk at a meeting, something like that. But if I’m THROWN into being the center of attention, without knowing beforehand – well, I guess it’s anything that I feel is out of my control makes me nervous. (Control freak much, Amy? Yes.)

      I also loved being my Dad’s helper! He tells stories about how when I was little I would hang around in the basement when he was doing things and get so, so grubby. But I was just the happiest! (And he was really good with us. He always would stop what he was doing to pretend to eat whatever imaginary food I’d made, or talk to my stuffed animals, and I’d giggle and giggle. He’s always been a great dad.)


  • becomingcliche

    Oh, my word. Oh, my word. Note to self – do not ever surprise Amy in person. Not ever. I imagine you with one of those pick-combs my grandmother used to have – the kind with the metal pointy things on one end of a regular comb. I’m not sending you one of those, either.


    • lucysfootball

      I don’t even MEAN to react the way I do! It’s this way over-the-top thing. I swear I have either PTSD or some sort of psychotic overdeveloped startle reflex. I almost killed A. at work when he popped over the top of my cube one time. Picked up a letter-opener without even thinking. It’s the strangest. No idea where it came from! So if I ever DO accidentally get stabby with you, I promise it’s completely involuntary!


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