Last month, I recounted a friend’s wonderful heart-to-heart speech that she worked long and hard to prepare. This month’s happy moment also involved preparation — for a big surprise! He never saw it coming!
“Half a century…it’s a blessing to live that long, and it’s a great opportunity to surprise and tease someone!” I think as I begin preparations for my friend’s 50th birthday party. I really want this to be a big surprise, so to help avoid arousing his suspicions, I decide to have the party two weeks early.
First, I gather ideas from friends: “Surprise him at a restaurant. We’ll all go there first and get ready for him.” “Don’t do the black balloons and over-the-hill stuff, that’s just depressing!” “Get him a walker with a bicycle horn and signs on it about how old he is!”
After thinking it over, I agree that the “over-the-hill” gag with tombstones and all black decorations is too cliche and unpleasant for this occasion, though I decide maybe just one or two black balloons might get the point across.
With a desire to make the party a little more kind, I even go to the lengths of searching for ideas on Pinterest. There I see the sweetest poster entitled “70 Things We Love About You.” “Hmmm…could I get 50 messages together in about two weeks time? Why not try?!”
So begins a barrage of Facebook messages, emails, and whispered conversations to gather the loving comments for the poster. While waiting for responses from some of our friends, I can’t resist poking a little fun at my pal by making one smaller poster covered with old-age jokes.
Why did the 50-year-old cross the road?
No particular reason. People that age often get disoriented from time to time.
At your age, it takes you longer to rest than it does to get tired!
You’re so old, the candles cost more than your birthday cake!
There’s another really lame joke that hits my funny bone just right, so I go ahead and add it:
You’re so old, when you were born, the Dead Sea was just getting sick!
It’s ridiculous, I know, but it really makes me laugh! (Yes, I’m easily entertained.)
Just for fun, I decide to get a little nostalgic and refresh the memories of those who were around in 1965 with history and trivia from that year. Researching on the internet to gather facts and photos reveals a few surprises for myself that I didn’t realize occurred that year. Newspaper articles and advertisements are particularly entertaining.
Here’s most of the facts list I manage to compile, in case you’re interested:
How did the money flow in 1965?
- Household income averaged $6,450
- Gallon of gas was 31 cents
- Bread was 21 cents
- Houses averaged $13,660
- New homes averaged about $21,000
- Rent was about $118
- New cars cost $2,650
- Postage Stamp was 5 cents
- Payphone call cost 10 cents
- Hershey bar could be enjoyed for 5 cents
What happened in 1965?
- The respirator replaced the Iron Lung
- The President was Lyndon B. Johnson
- Life expectancy was 70.2 years old
- Population of the world was 3.345 billion
- Population of the USA was 194 million
- First person to walk in space (for 12 minutes) was Soviet Cosmonaut Aleksei Leonov
- The optical disk, now called the compact disk, was invented by James Russell
- Malcolm X, the Human Rights Activist, was assassinated at a Harlem rally
- 1965 was the first year that health warnings appeared on a pack of cigarettes
- The skate board and super ball were the hottest toys
- Walt Disney premiered “The Sound of Music”
- Men began to grow the hair longer
- Women began to wear their skirts shorter; the mini skirt was the fashion
- The first US combat troops arrived in Vietnam
- The Beatles released the movie & album “Help!”
- The Voting Rights Act became law, allowing African Americans the right to vote
- The Gateway Arch was completed in Louis
- Hypertext was introduced for linking to the internet, and the rest is history…
The two weeks of preparation fly quickly by, as all my weeks seem to do these days, and the big day arrives! Even with one or two close calls, my friend never catches on to the party plans; and with the aid of several other friends, the decorations and the crowd are in place for the big reveal.
Strangely enough, the lady at the cash register messes up his ticket as he tries to enter the buffet restaurant, giving us plenty of time to all get in the party room ahead of him while he’s straightening out his tab. When he finally enters the room, a chorus of voices join in to sing “Happy Birthday” to him.
The stunned look on his face is priceless!
He shakes his head and tries to turn around to leave, but several friendly hands drag him farther into the room as we finish the song. The rest of the evening is filled with friendship and fun, and a special piece of cake with one huge (8-inch-tall) candle smashed into the center of it. (We warn him that at his age, one candle for each year was just too much of a fire hazard. Tee Hee!)
It is a happy evening, an occasion that strengthens friendships and creates fond memories. And, luckily, I don’t even get in too much trouble for all the old-man jokes.
There is a drawback to all the fun I’ve had, though. The next time I have a special birthday approaching with a big round “zero” on the end, I’ll have to watch my back and be prepared to be on the receiving end of the teasing. I’m sure my own black balloons are floating just around the corner!