The players: My wife surprised me with a fiftieth birthday party at the Fieldstone restaurant and I secretly vowed to get even. My wife’s birthday is in late June but after being married for many years I really don’t know what to get her anymore. She doesn’t need jewelry, she has a newer car and our taste in clothing is diametrically opposed. We don’t need any more Knick knacks, brick-a-brack or geegaws laying around and collecting dust either. We had been together for several decades and she usually gets what she wants. If it is something large she wants I usually get it for her when she mentions it, not make her wait for some mandatory date in the future. She also buys the smaller things that she wants for herself when she is out shopping. We have never proscribed to “It is Valentine’s day, got to get a present” concept. We give each other presents throughout the year for no particular reason except for love.
The windup: She loved going to the Bison’s games and we would go several times a year. It was an ideal break from the daily grind, relaxing, eating fried bologna, red licorice and throwing our peanut shells on the floor. We usually started planning to attend a Saturday or Sunday game during the week before, picking up supplies, freezing an icepack and loading up my back pack with napkins and sun screen. Unbeknownst to her, our children and I had rented a box for her birthday. We selected peel and eat shrimp, beef on weck, a cold cut and cheese platter, rolls, a few salads, chips and dip and pitchers of soft drinks to eat. It was a very nice spread. I have to thank my daughter Dawn for doing the leg work on this. There is no way I could have done it without my wife questioning me what was going on.
The pitch: It was a Sunday morning in early June well before her birthday and I waited to spring the trap. We were sitting on the front porch and I was trying to figure a way to get her to the game that was being played that afternoon without being obvious. She mentioned that she was bored and maybe we should go to a game that day. I hemmed and hawed and said I didn’t know because we hadn’t prepared for it by freezing an ice pack or buying snacks and drinks. She said the heck with it, we could get them at the ballpark. After stalling for a bit more time, I finally agreed that we should go. We grabbed what we had, threw it all in my backpack and jumped in my car. Sometimes she makes my work easy for me.
The swing: We drove to the University at Buffalo, Main street campus, parked in the free parking lot, surprisingly in our usual spot, and picked up the subway like we always did. This was much easier than driving all the way to the ball park and trying to find parking. It is a bit cheaper also. We rode the subway getting out at Bison Field and I told her to wait near the entrance and that I would go to the ticket window to get bleacher seats. That’s when things started to unravel like a cheap blanket. I had the tickets that came with the box seats but I couldn’t show her that I already had them. She told me in no uncertain terms that she wasn’t going to wait at the gate and was coming with me. There goes some money wasted but I had to maintain the ruse. Oh well, bleacher seats are cheap enough.
The hit: We entered the ball park and I ushered her up the stairs. She started protesting asking where we were going. I lied to her and told her that some guys from work had gotten box seats and I wanted to say hi. This whole thing was going south real quick. We reached the top floor and I started leading her around looking for our box seats. I went the wrong way and had to double back. She was not amused. I found our box seats, opened the door and pushed her in.
Homerun: It was at that point she saw our family. She asked our son what he was doing there and he told her he would not have missed his mother’s birthday party. This is when it dawned on her what I had done. I was finally able to breathe a sigh of relief. Although it didn’t go quite as smoothly as I had wished, I did manage to pull the surprise party off. Everyone had a great time, we all ate and watched very little game. They did have a television in the room that broadcast the game with live narration, but the game was not the reason we were all there.
Extra innings: What food we didn’t eat (and there wasn’t much of it) was packed in plastic bags and we ate it at home the following day.
Lead image: Phil Wilkins – Buffalo Bisons
Norb is a writer from Lockport. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.