Saturday, April 14, 2012

Worlds Collide

I’m reasonably certain that Stacy has been waiting for me to turn 40 pretty much since she first met me.
Given that I was 30 when we first met, that means she’s been waiting for a while.
As the day approached, I was certain that there would be some sort of surprise in store for me.
When she first started asking me where I wanted her and Scott to take me for my birthday, I had no particular place in mind.  I don’t really have a “favorite” restaurant or anything, so I pretty much left it up to them to decide.
I had at one point suggested to Scott that, since I need to go there to get a desk one of these days, but don’t want to make the drive, we should forego dinner and they could just take me to Ikea for my birthday.  Scott’s response was, “You’re turning 40; Stacy isn’t going to let you off that easy.”
When I got the text from Stacy telling me that they were taking me to Maggiano’s – a restaurant that specializes in multi-course “family style” dining – I knew that there were going to be more people involved, it was just a question of which ones.
The majority of my friends are mutual friends, but most of my friends from work are an exception to that (for the most part), and my two social worlds haven’t ever really collided.
Still, I assumed that the power of Facebook could bridge that gap.
I compiled a list of likely suspects – Jamie and Casey were obvious suspects, of course – but I also assumed that my friend Dan would be an invitee.  That suspicion was actually confirmed not by him saying anything, but rather by him not saying anything, as he was conspicuously absent among the many well-wishers on my Facebook Timeline.  (He even went so far as to not respond to a text I sent him before leaving work on Thursday.)
Not knowing what Friday evening traffic would be like, and knowing that I always get lost when going somewhere that I haven’t been very many times, I left home early and, surprisingly, actually arrived fairly early.
Maggiano’s is located in the Tyson Galleria, which is to say a mall for people with more money than sense.  Once I arrived, I realized that the few times I’ve been there I’ve only ever been there to eat at Maggiano’s, and had never actually checked it out.  As I wandered around, I realized that there’s a reason for that:  the place is nothing but Gucci, and Hugo Boss, and Louis Vuitton.  You feel like you’re either going to be charged a fee just for walking around, or you’re going to be told that “your kind” is welcome there.
As it got closer to the appointed hour, I decided to head outside to smoke a last cigarette.  Not wanting to spoil the surprise, I opted to go out through the Nieman Marcus rather than out through the door by the restaurant, as I didn’t want to accidentally bump into any of the surprise guests.
However, my efforts at playing along with the surprise were thwarted by the efforts of Dan and his wife Susan to sneak in through the Nieman Marcus, and we ended up crossing paths.
The three of us went outside to smoke, then headed over to the restaurant where the rest of the gang was assembled, and, once someone said, “We’re just waiting for Sheila,” the list of likely suspects was confirmed:  Scott and Stacy, Jamie and Casey, Dan and his wife, my boss, and Sheila.
The funny thing is that the universal response that Stacy had received to her plan was, “I don’t think Jon will like that.”
They know me so well.
Or do they?  Turns out I liked it very much.  I actually had a blast.  I was glad to finally get all of these disparate people together for the first time and to finally meet Dan’s wife, everyone hit it off and seemed to have a good time – my boss in particular seemed to be a big hit – the food was delicious (especially the Chicken Piccata), and, most importantly, there were presents.
Well-played, Stacy.
So worlds didn’t so much collide as they meshed together rather nicely, and overall it was a good birthday.  I’m still not so thrilled about the “40th” part, though…

Jamie, the boss (Kelly), and me.

One of the gifts from Stacy.

Sheila and her beau John (I assume he's the "h" variety).

Me, Dan, and Susan.

Scott, Stacy, and Casey.

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