Sunday, January 30, 2011

a special birthday for a special friend (m)

My friend, V, is a trip.  I've never met anyone like her.  We first met at work several years ago.  We went to lunch one day and I remember sitting on a stone wall, eating a salad and she asked, "What is your philsophy on life?"

I did not have one.  What 25 year-old does?  She did.  Hers was (and I'll never forget it): "The most one can hope for in life is an absence from pain."

This is not the type of person who celebrates birthdays with abandon.

Last week, before I left for Greensboro, North Carolina, I held a surprise birthday party for my good friend, V.

The operative words were Surprise, Birthday and Party.  The emails from her/our friends were flying:

-"she'll hate it"
-"she'll kill you"
-"do you really think this is a good idea?"
-"you're brave"

and so forth.  But, really, when you have an important birthday, you need to celebrate it.  I had Lyn call her mother to get a picture of her from her past.  Lyn tells me that all her mother can come up with is her high school graduation photo.  Wait a minute, her brother is a professional photographer.  She just spent a day with him and her nephew.  Try them, Lyn.  Lyn calls me back to say the brother has no photo of his sister.  The whole family is like Howard Hughes.

On short notice, ten of V's friends eagerly agree to meet for lunch.  We go to a great new restaurant in Boston co-owned by two renowned chefs.  I got the high school graduation photo blown up to life size so we can use them as "masks" to hide behind when V enters the room.  My camera is ready.  She walks in and we all scream, "Surprise!"

I can tell by her body language that she desperately wants to cut and run, but Kathy grabs her and leads her to the table where her friends await to pay tribute to their wonderful friend.  Lyn was sick and did not make it.  Others were traveling on business, otherwise, we easily could have filled the room with people.

Lunch was great.  The food was exceptional and the renowned chef, a friend of Kathy's, joined us for lunch and talked to V much of the time and invited her to her home for dinner this Spring.  The big treat was a tower of home-made cupcakes with a chocolate V standing vertically on the tops.

To commemorate the moment, I took a picture but I won't tell you which one is the birthday girl.

After lunch, I drove her back to her home and she smiled and said, "Thank you".

I guess she didn't hate it.

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