I decided it would need to be a small intimate gathering and quickly invited Matt and Wade. John Michael moved to Salt Lake City earlier this year from some place in the south where they give everyone two first names and legally require you to call them by BOTH names even though the rest of us get by just fine with only one. Because he's newish in town, he's still assimilating and getting to know people.
I know that he's made various friends while living in SLC, but I don't really know any of them. Matt and Wade were really the only two people I knew John Michael knew and so they were the only two people I knew to invite to his birthday party.
I was having some birthday party planning anxiety leading up to the big day because who has ever heard of a good birthday party with only four people. But I didn't want to invite people John Michael didn't know because that seemed inappropriate too.
You guys. This was a true crisis situation.
The night before the "big" birthday party, John Michael had sent a message out to various people from different parts of his life, inviting all who were interested to meet at the piano bar downtown (we are one-trick ponies and only go to exactly one place every weekend). So, we all gathered there and saw that John Michael had an assortment of great friends we had never met.
Now, a more responsible version of myself would have capitalized on this opportunity and wandered around the room inviting each of these people to the next day's birthday party. But y'all. This never crossed my mind. And the next morning when it finally occurred to me that I could have done this, I realized that I didn't even remember a single person's name from that group and so had no way of reaching out to them.
I made this plight known to Wade when I saw him on Sunday morning and he excitedly informed me that he had exchanged contact info with Jodi, one of John Michael's friends from that night, and he could totally text her and see if she could come.
So they texted.
Wade: Hey Jodi! John Michael is having a birthday party today. You should come!
Jodi: Sorry . . . who is this?
Wade: This is Wade. We met last night at the piano bar. I think you should come to this party today.
Jodi: Oh . . . thanks for the invite. I'll definitely stop by.
Wade texted her the party details and that was that.
We were relieved and proud of ourselves that we were going to have one of John Michael's friends make a surprise appearance at his birthday party. And five sounded like a much less depressing number than four so my anxiety levels went down at least three notches.
Then I went to work preparing for the party. I made an elaborate dinner, including pumpkin stew, pumpkin bread, a homemade pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin drinks, an assortment of pumpkin candies, etc. I excessively decorated my house with fake spider webs, insomuch that you had to duck when you walked around inside. I played Halloween music. Wade and Matt brought pumpkins and carving supplies.
This was going to be a birthday party for the history books.
We put the final touches on the preparations just as John Michael arrived, looking horrified because he was probably thinking we were just going to have a very low-key birthday party hang out.
John Michael: Wow. You guys really went all out. Thank you.
Eli: No problem! We're so excited it's your birthday!
Wade: And we have a special guest coming!
John Michael: Who is it?
Wade: Your friend Jodi!
John Michael: Who?
Wade: Jodi! Your friend who was there last night?
John Michael: Jodi? Do I know a Jodi?
Wade: Yes. She was your friend you were talking to for a while at that one table toward the back.
John Michael: Yeah . . . I just met her last night at the piano bar.
Eli: Wait. She wasn't part of our group? She's not a friend of yours?
There was a long awkward silence in the room as all four of us realized that Jodi very likely thought she was going to be stopping by a large party of friends and acquaintances and NOT a very intimate and elaborate birthday dinner for which the invite list was so exclusive that I would literally have extra chairs around the table in my tiny dining room.
And then, there was a knock on the door.
Jodi was welcomed into my home wherein we forced her to eat our food, listen to our stories, carve our pumpkins, take our pictures, and sing happy birthday. FOR THE NEXT FOUR HOURS.
If she wasn't our best friend before the party, she certainly became it by the end.
~It Just Gets Stranger
|Jodi took this picture. John Michael works for the University of Utah and evidently takes his role very seriously. Also, we have no idea what the hell Wade carved.|