Friday, August 21, 2009

Cruising off the Edge of Foiled Again

In this blog's previous incarnation, I chronicled several of my futile attempts to keep surprises a surprise for my wife when it comes to presents or special events. I also chronicled one or two times when I managed to actually pull it off. Often these adventures revolved around my attempts to keep special anniversary plans a secret and her near-psychic ability to see right into my wee brain and pull them out.

With our 10 year anniversary coming up in a few months, I knew my secret plans would need to be of a substantial nature, even more shored up than usual and prepared well in advance. In fact, I've been contemplating this plan for the past few years, but actually put it into effect within the past month. My plan was this: for our anniversary I would take my wife on a trip to Gatlinburg, TN, where we would spend a long weekend, staying in the exact same cabin we rented for our honeymoon, lo a decade ago. Now, from my spilling of the beans in the previous sentence, you can guess how secret this is now. Once again, the early reveal was thanks to my wife's meddling and my own dumb mouth.

Lemme back up.

The wife and I have talked about returning to our honeymoon cabin in Gatlinburg on many occasions over the past ten years. We originally thought it would be a good five year anniversary gift, but we instead went on a mission trip to Central America that year, so that was right out. And while we thought about the cabin for subsequent years, it seemed to me that it fit best for the 10 year anniversary, so that's been my plan.

Around a month back, I decided it would be wise to go ahead and reserve the cabin. Trouble was, I couldn't remember the name of the cabin rental company we'd used. I tried to look through various Gatlinburg rental places online, looking through pictures to see if I could find our, but there are dozens of rental companies online and none of the cabins looked right. Fortunately, I recalled that I had used the same rental company as my friends Matthew and Beth had used for their honeymoon a few years before mine. Matthew graciously dug around in his attic until he found some old records and was able to pull the name for me. Sure enough, a couple of clicks later and I'd found our honeymoon cabin. A phone call later and I had reserved it.

That accomplished, I began musing on how exactly I would actually surprise the wife with this knowledge. I didn't see an easy way to do it. I mean, I figured I could keep it a surprise for a while, but eventually she was going to start asking anniversary plan questions, which I'd have to admit to having made in order to avoid her making some of her own. And because my plan was pretty much the most obvious anniversary plan I could have made, she would instantly know the details of it. Worse yet, the longer I waited to tell her, the more likely she'd start making secret plans of her own that would compete with mine. Even in a best case scenario--say, I made it to January without the surprise being spoiled--how was I really planning to break the good news to her? Put her in the car and start driving south and NOT have her immediately know what was up?

No, my best bet would be to tell her the whole thing much earlier, but do it in a classy and romantic manner befitting the occasion. I could take her out to dinner one night, have a nice romantic meal, and maybe slip her a card at some point, one containing the reservation all printed up on nice paper. Yeah. That would be sweet.

About a week ago, the wife began making noises about a vacation. And not just a let's get out of town for the weekend vacation, but a full on let's GO somewhere, perhaps even out of the country, maybe for a week or two kind of vacation. I knew from the look in her eyes that she was serious. When she's serious she starts making plans and getting itchy for decisions to be made and things to be set in stone. Trouble is, our schedule's kind of tight through November, then there are the holidays getting in the way through the end of the year, and it's no good waiting til next spring when you want a vacation NOW, so I knew this proposed trip was soon going to fall solidly in our anniversary window. Sure enough, last night, after seeing an ad for Puerto Rico on TV, the wife began researching trips. Soon the word "cruise" was uttered. We're not really "cruise" sort of people, but then again we've never been on one. Also, we like water and boats and we understand there's food to be had 24/7. The wife began to research them. But because cruises run on schedules and schedules come with dates, there were soon questions to me as to when would be a good time, which conflicts we already had in place, etc., and then I heard the words I knew were coming: "Why don't we go for our anniversary?"

Now, in retrospect, there were probably a few things I could have done to deflect attention away from the anniversary, like developing a sudden infatuation with a Christmas cruise, or maybe faking a seizure. No good options occurred to me in that moment, though, so I said, "Um, someone might already have made plans for our anniversary."

To which the wife replied, "Oh, did someone rent a cabin in Gatlinburg?"

"Er... someone might have."

"You already rented it?"



"About a month ago."

The wife was instantly delighted. (In fact, a more suspicious person might suspect she cooked up the whole cruise thing as an excuse to get me to divulge anniversary plans, but this would be a suspicious person who had not seen that look of vacation desperation in her eyes earlier.) She said it was the perfect anniversary trip, to a beautiful place (left largely uncrowded by our choice of getting married in the off-season) and was the most appropriate place we could have gone.

Naturally, for the next couple of hours, I cursed my lack of brain power in not coming up with a suitable dodge, but really the information would have had to come out fairly soon anyway and she didn't care. As she pointed out, she could either be surprised now or later, it didn't really matter when.

We've still not planned our cruise, nor its destination, nor if it will be a cruise at all. We're not so much married to the cruise as a vacation concept, but would like to go somewhere that we can see cool stuff and eat good food.

Suggestions welcome.

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