April 24, 2024
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April 24, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

When I sort of challenged my wife a couple of years ago to make me a surprise party, it was because I was curious—I’d never been the victim of a surprise party, and I wanted to know what it felt like. And now I can tell you—I felt like an idiot. Because my wife worked really hard, and I almost foiled it like 10 times.

She’d decided to go pretty simple—pick a Motzei Shabbos, invite three of my oldest friends, and have pizza, popcorn and cake, and maybe play a board game. My kids didn’t even know. What could anyone do to mess this up?

How I almost messed this up:

1. It’s impossible to sneak around me.

I’m home most of the time, and I work right near the front door. And if she comes in laden with groceries with stuff buried under it, I will see, because I’m going to go out and help her schlep it in. I’m the worst.

2. My wife casually asked me to buy two bags of popcorn for Shabbos. I did not.

This was another way my wife thought of to get some of the stuff into the house under my nose—by having me bring it in. So on Thursday, before I went Shabbos Shopping, she asked me to buy an extra bag of popcorn. I usually buy a bag for Shabbos, but this time, she said, “Can you buy two this week?” And I asked, “Why? These bags are huge!” And she said, “Last week I finished the one.”

Anyway, I only bought one bag, and then she didn’t eat ANY of it over Shabbos. And then I said something.

Surprise parties are not great for shalom bayis.

3. I did not clean the bathroom either.

See, the way it works in our house is that my wife and I take turns cleaning the bathroom. And if you don’t do it on your turn, it remains your turn until you do it. We do not play games with this.

Anyway, my wife sent me a reminder from work on Thursday, and I was behind on my deadlines, so I sent her a snarky answer that indicated that she had waited longer since my last turn before she cleaned than I’ve been waiting since her last turn.

Point is, we had a messy bathroom for the company. And it was my fault.

My wife said that if she would have cleaned it at that point, I would have known something was up.

4. I let our 10-year-old stay out at a friend until after Shabbos.

She’d been hoping he would meet me in shul for Maariv, and when he didn’t, she chastised him on the phone Motzei Shabbos that now I had to schlep out to go get him. Which didn’t seem like a huge deal to me. But now I had to leave the house, and what if everyone showed up as I got home?

5. I spilled Havdalah on my shirt.

This is something that happens from time to time, but this time she was visibly annoyed that I did that. And I said, “What’s the big deal? I made it through all of Shabbos!” I don’t always.

Then later, as I was leaving to pick up our son, she said, “Aren’t you going to change your shirt?” And I said, “Why?” And she said, “You’re leaving the house.” And I said, “First of all, I’m not getting out of the car. And as soon as I come back home, I’m getting into pajamas!”

I’m sure that as soon as I left, she called my friends and said, “Hurry! He’s going to get into pajamas!”

6. I talked about making a sandwich.

When we’d been cleaning up from Shabbos, I noticed that there were a few shreds of lettuce left, so I said that maybe later I’d have a chicken sandwich for Melava Malka! Which I thought would make her happy, because that’s exactly what she suggested I have the previous Motzei Shabbos. And my wife, who was washing dishes at the time, turned off the sink to come convince me not to. She said, “Are you sure you want fleishigs for Melava Malka? Ew!” She was scrambling, because not only would she have to cancel the pizza, but also the milchig cake that one of the guests was already en route to pick up. I would just be sitting there at my own party, eating popcorn.

7. I got into pajamas.

I did this shortly after getting back with our son. What was my wife supposed to say? “Don’t get in pajamas”? I thought I was doing her a favor, finally changing out of that shirt.

Anyway, I was the only one at the party in pajamas.

8. I went into the kitchen to make a sandwich.

My wife didn’t even have a chance to say anything about the pajamas, because as soon as I came down, I headed straight for the kitchen. She had to jump up and follow me for some reason, which I later realized was a panic that I would make myself a chicken sandwich. I think I offered to make her one, too.

But luckily for her, when I got to the kitchen, our son—the one I’d just picked up—was microwaving a muffin, and the kitchen smelled good, so I did that, too. I was thinking of having a second muffin. I could always have the sandwich later.

9. Then I lay down on the floor.

You’d think it would have to be on purpose by this point. I lay down on the living room floor, in my pajamas, and started doing my daily back stretches. Which is where I was when everyone showed up.

10. When the door knocked, I didn’t answer it.

I had just gotten onto the floor. To be fair, I didn’t tell her to answer the door either. I wanted my son to do it.

But she said, “You want to get that?” And I thought it was our teenage son, so I said, “He knows the combination,” which my friends did not, so my wife had to get up and answer the door.

It’s like the entire point of these surprise parties is to have the person reflect on their life and what a jerk they’ve been.

I must have made my wife age 10 years that night. The good news is we can throw a party for her now! No one tell her.


Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia and other magazines. He has also published eight books and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected].

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