I grew up on a cul-de-sac where all the kids played outside whenever possible. We had a pretty tight-knit group. We didn’t talk about anything deep, but you’d better bet we played intense games of hide-and-go-seek, cops and robbers, kickball, and everything in between. Without realizing it, I was keeping the kids of Ash Street busy. Their parents noticed. As my 12th birthday came around the corner, the parents began plotting.
Their willing spy was a kid named TJ. He lived in the house behind us and had a crush on me…or at least what I perceived as one. The data provided to me in regards to this was pretty straightforward: One Valentine’s day, he bought me a giant Hershey’s Chocolate Kiss, wrapped it in paper that said things like “my one and only love,” “kiss me,” and other sayings in that realm.
Anyways. They sent TJ to find out the two big things that make a birthday party a birthday party: what flavor of cake and ice cream do I like? He’d swoop in (run to me), ask the question (after catching his breath), then disappear (run away). I thought nothing of it…until the morning of my birthday.
This may be a surprise to you, but I tend to have a condition that my mom calls a “one-track mind.” When I get my mind fixed on something, I have to resolve my curiosity or desire. That day, I had my mind fixed on going to the guitar store to get an amp for my new electric guitar on the interwebs. TJ called (on line 1…dial up was on line 2) while I was slowly researching/verifying my already decided choice that I had researched at least three times already. Mom yelled down the stairs that TJ wanted to talk to me. I wanted to call him back, but she insisted. TJ said that he got a new puppy that he wanted me to come see. The tension inside of me grew – research or puppy. Research or puppy. Puppy won (with some persuasion from mom). We trekked across the back yards to TJ’s house, walked around to the front door, and rang the doorbell. TJ opened the door, then ran and hid (in clear sight) under the table in the front hall. This behavior made no sense to my mind. Next thing I knew, the house erupted in a chorus of “Surprise!” I had mixed feelings. First, I was really, really surprised. Second, I was really, really sad that there wasn’t a puppy. But there was food. So, the sad feelings quickly subsided. That was a really good birthday.
And I got an amp too. I still have it. The research paid off.