I was talking to a friend the other day about surprises. She turned 30 over the summer, and her husband had pulled off an incredible surprise party for her while they were back in the States this summer. And she was, thankfully, HAPPY about the surprise. We started discussing the kinds of surprises we like and don’t like and it got me reminiscing about the first birthday I celebrated in Abu Dhabi.
Soon after moving here in 2009, I met a gal who would become one of my very best Abu Dhabi friends. Her name is Sinead, and we happen to have the same birthday. Not long after we met, our husbands met and became good friends also. (Side note, it’s nice when your spouse gets along with your friends’ spouse, isn’t it?!) In October that year, Dave (Sinead’s hubby) and Pete got together and decided to plan a surprise party for our birthdays.
The night of our birthday, not having made any plans, Pete told me we were going to try a “new Arabic restaurant that was down near the port”. I was a little uncertain about this, but he was enthusiastic so I just went along with the idea. As I went upstairs to change for our dinner, I was debating what I should wear. The only things I knew about where we were going was that it was “Arabic” and “near the port”. These two things led me to believe that a very modest outfit would be appropriate. In many Arabic restaurants you sit on the floor, so a dress was out of the question. Cleavage was also a no-go. Being “near the port”, I also thought there could be fishermen around so I opted to wear jeans and a black, high-necked top.
When we got down to the port, we parked the car and started walking towards the boats. Okay, I thought…perhaps this is a floating restaurant. Then I saw Dave and Sinead drive past and park nearby. What were they doing here?! They knew about a new restaurant in this obscure location too? Sinead looked great! She was wearing a great dress and a beautiful pashmina. Dang, I was feeling frumpy. As we walked towards the same dhow boat I started to get really confused. We all boarded the boat and no one else was there. It certainly didn’t look like a new restaurant, that’s for sure! A few minutes later, some of our other friends got on board. I was so confused at this point. How on earth did everyone decide to try out this restaurant on the same night? And why didn’t it even look like a restaurant anyway?
It wasn’t until after a dozen or so people showed up that I finally realized that they were all there for Sinead and me! We were going on a dinner cruise down the Abu Dhabi Corniche. So fun! After getting over the initial shock, I immediately became really annoyed that I had picked out such a lame outfit for my own party! Silly I know, but still, you wanna look nice on your birthday! Of course looking back it really didn’t matter what I was wearing and we all ended up having a fantastic time. But I maintain to this day that Pete should have at least told me we were going to a NICE restaurant so I could have dressed the part.
I find that I often have this kind of reaction to surprises. I always feel like I’m not ready. I guess I’m one of those people that likes to know what to expect when I go out so I can be prepared. Dressy or casual? Are we sitting inside or out? Will I need a jacket? High heels or flats? Silly things that can really make or break it for me.
What about you? Do you LIKE surprises? Are you good at being ready for anything? Maybe if I was I’d enjoy them a whole lot more…