The voice on the other end of the line was filled with disgust.
“Oh. You’re the one who ruined Matt’s birthday.”
I felt very small as I gave the only excuse I could, “Well, it wasn’t actually his birthday.”
What it was, was a surprise visit his college girlfriend was making to the house he was sharing with a bunch of guys in Seattle the summer I was shepherding 12-year-olds at nerd camp in Evanston. Confusion about the date of the surprise led me to ask in an email how the visit (which hadn’t yet happened) had gone.
Terrible. I know. Terrible.
My friend was perfectly gracious about my mistake. (“If I hadn’t known she was coming, I never would have gone along to the airport that night.”) But his housemate’s reproach hit home. I was the one who ruined the surprise.
I have no poker face. When there is News, I want to share it. When I’m telling a great joke, I spill the punchline early at least half the time. Even when I try to keep a secret, I usually fail.
So it was with especially great joy that I attended a surprise birthday party for my wonderful church organist on Saturday. I had known about it since Thanksgiving. I see this woman at least once a week. And never, not once, did I breathe a word about it.
Never did I ask, “Doing anything special for your birthday?”
Never did I mention, “So, I hear your brother’s coming up from Omaha.”
Not once did I say, “Well, I know you’re busy on February 11th.”
It was a lovely party.
And even though the organist says she’ll never trust me again, I didn’t ruin it.