For one thing, I had to come up with a plausible explanation as to why we needed to take two vehicles to the airport. "There's no way we're all fitting in the Sentra," I warned.
"That's why I'm going by myself," he said. What he didn't realize is that even if he went alone, it would still be a tight squeeze due to Allyson's car seat, which was firmly secured via the LATCH system and nigh impossible to remove (as Trevor later discovered, but that's another story).
I looked away and focused on breathing evenly, willing the blood not to rush to my face. "Allyson really wants to go," I said finally. "And if Allyson goes, Ethan will have to go. And then there won't be room for Mom and Dad."
Bill sighed theatrically. "Oh, all right. We'll all go."
The whole time we were waiting at baggage claim, I was on edge. Trevor was arriving on a separate flight just ahead of Mom and Dad, and I wondered what would happen if he was delayed. How would I convince Bill we needed to hang around the airport? I'll just have to develop a diarrhea relapse and camp out in the bathroom, I decided.
Of course, it all worked out beautifully. Just as I spotted Mom and Dad, with Trevor skulking along behind them, Ethan exclaimed, "Hey, I didn't know Uncle Trevor was coming!"
"No, he's not," Bill said.
"Are you sure?" I asked. "See for yourself."
"It's Uncle Trevor!" Allyson yelled, hurtling herself at his legs.
Bill couldn't stop smiling, and neither could I.
We had his big party on Saturday, at which we served seven kinds of pizza. I'd been planning to make three kinds of lasagna, but Bill had insisted on beer and pizza. When I said we couldn't just have beer and pizza, he said, "It's MY 40th birthday, and if I want beer and pizza, I'm having beer and pizza."
"Well, okay then," I said meekly.
It was actually really tasty, and the entire evening was lots of fun. Without any deliberate planning that way, the party had taken on a hockey theme. It started with me putting a picture of Bill in his hockey uniform on the invitation.
When my sister Emily saw the invitation, she decided to make his cake with a hockey theme. Knowing he was a Canucks fan, she went online and found their logo, which she re-created in fondant. [To see more of Emily's cakes, see her Facebook page, Charlie Cakes. She takes orders!]
|Allyson, Ethan, Bill, Emily|
But that wasn't all. Guess what he got from his parents? A regulation Canucks hockey jersey, complete with the number 40 (because it's the team's 40th anniversary)! Finally, as luck would have it, the Canucks were playing the Dallas Stars that night, which meant we could actually watch the game on local TV.
So Bill and Trevor drug down Ethan's clunky old TV--the one we used for awhile after our big-screen TV broke, the one you have to whack periodically to bring the picture back. They set it up on a folding table on the back porch, stretching the satellite cable out Ethan's window and down the wall to the TV.
There were a few chuckles about this setup, but everyone had fun watching the game--well, maybe not everyone. The Canucks won 5-2, much to the delight of Bill, his Dad, and his brother, who were watching the game in their Canucks jerseys.
|Allyson Wore a Jersey, Too|
|Love this "Over The Hill" Paper|
|Brookswood Ice Hockey - 1989|
"We almost ordered you the band T-shirt," Scott remarked.
"But we wanted to get you a shirt you might actually wear," Troy put in.
Bill's mom laughed. "You know, Bill didn't actually play hockey in high school.... But he was in the band."
"No way!" Troy exclaimed. "Why have we never heard about this?"
"He played the tuba," Mom went on.
The entire room burst into breathless laughter. "The tuba??" his buddies repeated.
"Oh, I wish I'd known you could get a band T-shirt," I said ruefully. "I would have told you about the tuba for sure."
"You wouldn't happen to have a picture of Bill playing the tuba?" Scott asked. "It might bring you some money."
"No, I don't think so," his mom said. "He always slouched down low so the tuba covered his face. If we got a picture, it would have just looked like a tuba with black legs."
Scott and Troy howled.
"He only stayed in one year," Mom explained. "He wanted to drop out, but we made him finish the year."
"I wanted to play the bass guitar," Bill said. "The only problem was that all the 8th grade boys wanted to play the bass guitar. So the teacher drew out one name for the guitar and then said, 'You get the trumpet, you get the flute... And I got the tuba."
Scott and Troy thought about all the mischief they could get into with a picture of Bill in his tuba-playing days, which reminded them of the many pranks they'd already pulled on him. (Each time we go out of town, they do something to vandalize his desk.) They kept us laughing for ten minutes recounting all their practical jokes: dropping 500 marbles into his overhead bookshelf, turning his cube into a giant snow globe with blowing "snow" made of packing peanuts, and rigging a shower of glitter over his desk, to name a few.
After we'd regained our composure, Scott brought in their real gift, a combination cooler, adjustable serving table, and bottle opener:
|Scott and the Awesome Cooler|
Before the evening ended, Bill's mom couldn't help sharing one more tidbit about Bill's childhood. We were watching scores of pictures that Bill's sister Lisa had loaded onto her gift, a digital picture frame that she sent with Mom and Dad. We giggled a lot over Bill's bushy 80s hair, but we laughed even harder over his dad's 70s sideburns and mustache.
|Bill, Jim, Lisa|
|Bill With His Grandpa, Whom I Never Got to Meet|
"Oh, Mom," Trevor said. "You realize you've just given them more ammunition!"
And he was right... When Bill returned to work today, this is what he found:
|A Mouse Encased in Jell-O... A Typical Prank|
I guess you'll just have to use your imagination.