The BIG Five-0...

...and I'm not talking about the Dakota Five-0.

I will hit 50 tomorrow. That's right - fifty!!!

My wife pulled off a perfect surprise 50th birthday party for me on Saturday night. Disguised and well hidden, I thought I was heading off to one of my regular "guy nights" with the guys where we grill, drink beer, smoke cigars and lambast all the Republicans until the beer runs out in the wee hours of the night. I've been there for many of those nights while our wives go out to eat in Des Moines. I was told to bring an appetizer and a bottle of wine and be there around 7 ish.

This was on Saturday and I had done trail work all day at Lake Ahquabi and then rushed off to opera dance rehearsal for Die Fledermaus that I am directing at Simpson. After rehearsal, I rushed to Hy-Vee to get the fixings for making stuffed mushrooms (18 portabellos, sausage, bacon, two cheeses) and I rushed home to make them. One of the regular guys at these guy nights is a professional chef, another is a great cook and I wanted to impress this time around. I was running late and finally finished my 18 stuffed goodies at 7:10 pm. No time to shower, so I figured we'd be outside grilling and smoking - so wearing a hat and smelling like I'd had a full work day was fine.

I pull into the driveway of our good friends (Joel and Deb Hade) and see the cars of all the regulars in the driveway, but notice many, may cars parked on the streets. I figure somebody else on that street must be having a party. I go around to the back of their house figuring they'd be out on the patio grilling and all was dark. Shoot. I must be early - or so I thought. Nobody was there. I opened up the sliding screen door to go in, even though everything is dark. I yell out "Is anybody home?" No answer. I figure I better head back out to the car or the patio and sit and wait.

Lights come on and 45+ people start singing Happy Birthday to me. I am in total surprised shock. They are all dressed up and I am in jeans, a baseball cap and stink like I've been working all day. Oh well... My wife pulled off a smooth one. I had no clue. Nobody broke the secret to me at all. Friends, colleagues, students were all there. A jazz trio, lots of food, drink, fellowship and even a "roasting" of me by my current students sung to music from The Mikado ensued. And a former student from South Africa sang 2 special numbers. We partied until about 11:30 or midnight and then all went home. What a great time!

Of the 3 days out of the year I don't take a shower, this happened to be one! My bad, but the party was great. Tomorrow (the 20th) is the official day, but my wife outdid herself with this bash. I was totally surprised. Floored.

Thanks Tara. Thanks Joel and Deb. Thanks to all my friends, colleagues and my students for making it a most memorable 50th Birthday.

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