The art of surprise - Shawn Loughlin editorial
Surprising someone with something can be a true joy. Seeing their face light up thanks to something you did that they just did not see coming is something you both will remember for the rest of your lives. It’s these kinds of surprises I hope to experience with Tallulah in the years to come. However, sometimes they don’t go quite as well as you’d hoped, and you leave feeling a bit foolish.
Jess organized a surprise birthday party for me once, at a pub I really liked in Pickering. In true old-man-telling-a-story fashion, it’s no longer there, but it had the best wings in the city and it was one of the few pubs that served Guinness on tap. The surprise went just fine, but Jess and I had skipped going to a baseball game I really wanted to see to go to the party, which Jess told me was for someone else. Well, I spent the whole drive to Pickering mouthing off about said person and lamenting my mandatory attendance at his get-together, only to find out once we arrived that about 40 of my friends and family members were there waiting for me.
Jess, unfortunately, was my sounding board for another such instance. I lived in Goderich at the time and Jess lived with her parents. My mom and sister were coming up for a visit and were, as they had told me, just minutes away from my apartment when Jess called me in a panic, saying she had clumsily dropped one of her rings through the boardwalk in Goderich to the sand below and needed my help to find it.
I helped her look, all the while complaining about her clumsiness and I likely called her inconsiderate once or twice, as here I was rummaging around on the beach after dark while Dana and my mom were likely waiting to be let in to my apartment. When I returned, I saw a brand new TV hooked up, a gift from Dana and my mom. They had arranged to get me out of the house, so they could surprise me. Felt like a pretty big jerk that time as well.
Jess got me back later in life though. In late 2016, I knew I was going to propose to her on Christmas Eve. In fact, I was already having the ring made and my family and a few friends even knew. We went to a soccer game in Toronto and were enjoying dinner before kick-off. The topic of marriage came up and, knowing what I was planning, I turned up the misdirection knob, really playing down any urgency in getting married, knowing I’d propose in a month.
Well, that didn’t go so hot. We had a fight and I did everything I could to get out of the fight without having to spill the beans that I’d be going to pick up her engagement ring in a few weeks.
The good news is that the actual engagement went well and somehow landed as a complete surprise, despite the fact that we had been dating for a decade.
Speaking of Christmas surprises, last year around the holidays we were able to surprise our families at Christmas and then our friends on New Year’s Eve with the news that Jess and I would be having a baby. That went well too.
However, when we told them, by way of a card for our niece Addyson, my sister began taking video with her phone. No doubt, when we had visited them a month earlier, as Jess was in the throes of morning sickness (which doesn’t discriminate and only happen in the morning, despite the catchy name), Dana recognized the signs and symptoms and had an inkling as to what was coming at Christmas.
Ah yes, the art of the surprise. In life, there are good surprises and there are bad surprises, just try not to be a jerk about it like I was. You feel pretty bad about it for a while afterwards.