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    Played Us Like a Fiddle

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    Yesterday was Adam's 30th birthday. Three days ago, on Saturday, was the super secret awards-show style surprise birthday party that his wife had been planning for the previous 4 or 5 months. She rented a conference room at the local Radisson hotel, which we decorated around a red carpet awards show. I won't delve into her devious planning, and how she was able to arrange for him to be there in a suit, with him none the wiser, but it's a good story.

    I've spent the last 2 months (maybe three, I can't really remember), making a PowerPoint for the event, which became known as "The Non-Annual Quoties Awards". Adam has the innate ability to watch a movie one time and quote almost the entire thing afterward. As a result, he somehow manages to work movie quotes into everyday conversation, well, everyday. Some are easily worked into a discussion, like "You're killing me, Smalls", from "The Sandlot". Others aren't nearly as easy, but he pulls it off. It's a gift, for sure. The meat and potatoes of the PowerPoint went like this. A quote would appear on screen for about 4 seconds. All quotes were lines that Adam has been known to say, many times. Guests would then shout out their guesses for the movie the quote belongs to. Then the movie clip would play. It took two (or more) months, because I had to get the movie from Netflix, if I didn't already have it, rip it to the computer with one program, compress it to a windows movie file with another, find the quote and mark its start and end frame with yet another program, and extract the segment of movie with a final program. After all the quotes and slides were loaded, I had to rearrange them all into a random order, and set the timing up for the clips. Sound effects, animations, blah blah blah.

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    The general format of the Quoties slideshow

    On Friday, I watched the slideshow about 10 times, and tweaked a few things. Sarah took Tyler to visit a friend that just had a baby, which allowed me to concentrate my time into making these final adjustments. The party was about two hours from us (ah, the joys of moving away from all of one's friends), so we spent Saturday morning getting everything around and packed up. The difficulty in this was that Tyler was being an absolute nightmare; easily the worst he's been since he was born. A peek into his mouth during these endless screams revealed the very beginnings of Tyler's third tooth. His first two teeth were the bottom front teeth. I don't recall which one is normally the next one to come through - and it's not worth my time to google it again - but this one wasn't it. Tyler appears to be copying Maddie, by bringing in his left, upper eye-tooth next (also known as the canine, or the fang tooth).

    It really hurts us to see our son in pain. The bigger problem is that we had a party to get to that night. If we were just regular guests (and I'm not being demeaning in saying this), we would have called and canceled. But, the PowerPoint was a very key element to the party. No matter what, the laptop had to get up there and hooked up to the speakers and projector! Sarah's last nerve was in danger of snapping and she needed a baby-break. So, she went to the store to look at shoes while I tended to the tester-of-sanity.

    "Tyler, I don't know what to do, buddy."

    He continued screaming as the lightbulb clicked on above my head. You know the lightbulb. It's the one that has the word "idea" curved around the top of the bulb. Sometimes, little lines will come off the word, to show emphasis on the fact that despair has been replaced with a brilliant thought. I searched through the luggage bag that Sarah packed, for the magical tube of Baby Teethers Orajel. I squirted about a half pea sized amount onto my finger and rubbed it onto his gums. For good measure, I handed the tube to him, so he could suck what he wanted to out of it, like an on-demand morphine drip. I'm making that last part up, but it did cross my mind. On a scale of one to a hundred, with one hundred being the best, the effect of the Orajel on Tyler's pain (as judged by the longevity and pitch of his screams) was about 0.00000001. And that was being generous.

    Have you ever watched a movie where the hero was hanging off a cliff by a rope, and the individual threads of the rope started to break and unravel, spelling certain doom for our hero? That's how I visualized my nerves and patience. Then I heard keys.


    An angel, surrounded by bright, pure, white light appeared in the doorway, and she was holding a package of Baby Motrin. Berry flavored, no less. I couldn't read the dosage table, indications and fine print fast enough. Tyler definitely liked the taste of it too, because he looked at me as if asking where the rest of it was.

    Further complicating everything else, this was to be the first time that Tyler would be left with a babysitter. Let me clarify, because he's previously been left in the care of his aunts while Sarah and I went out. This time he was going to be cared for by a complete stranger. We weren't terribly worried, because this is the same person that watches Adam and Mel's son, Ben, and they love her. But he was wearing on our patience, and we're his parents. I had a real fear that she could just lose her temper with Tyler.

    We drove up to Kalamazoo and parked at a "For Sale" house just around the corner from Adam's and Mel's. At 6:09p, they pulled out and turned the other way. I said "It's go time" and quickly drove to their house, unloaded the supplies and hopped into Mel's SUV to go to the Radisson. Before I left, I told the babysitter to please be patient with our grumpy baby and call us for anything. Sarah was sticking around for another 20 minutes to go over all the details with her.

    Fast forward about 90 minutes. We were all setup and waiting for Adam and Mel to arrive from their dinner date to the surprise party. All the guests were lined up on the "red carpet" with their cameras. They were instructed to act as paparazzi for the guest of honor. Problem is, the guest of honor and his wife were running late, so every time I walked back into the room to update them (Melanie was sending Sarah text messages while Sarah spied from the halls of the hotel, looking for them) the guests all looked up, ready to yell and start taking pictures. All I saw were the looks of disappointment when they saw that it was just me. Truthfully, during one of my entrances, they expressed a collective sigh of disappointment, which was a mixture of "uhhh", deep exhalations, and "come on". It's great for ones pride and ego.

    Finally we got the message. "We're in the hotel. Adam's going to the bathroom." Sarah and I ran into the room and told them to take their places. When they walked in, flashes were going off everywhere as I faded in AC/DC's "Thunderstruck".

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    "What are you wearing?", "Who did your eyebrows?", and "Where the hell have you been?" were just a few of the comments I could hear over the music, as I was crouched right next to the speakers. The speech, the PowerPoint, and the surprise couldn't have gone any better. After the "awards" portion, we all started to mingle and talk and drink. There was a table setup with theatre sized boxes of candy, and a popcorn machine next to the beverage table. Sarah sent me into the hall to check her voicemail since there was no reception in the room that the party was in.

    "You have 1 new message, and 2 old messages", piped the recorded, emotionless female voice.

    "Hi Sarah, this is Jaime..."

    My heart jumped. Could Tyler really have been so bad that she had to call us? Why didn't I pay attention to when the message was received? How long ago was this?

    "... I just wanted to let you know that Tyler..."

    Seriously? Talk faster, woman! Get to the point!

    "... is sound asleep. He's been great tonight. He did start to get a little fussy, so I read him a book and put him to bed, and he went right to sleep..."

    I stood there, with Sarah's pink phone to my ear in stunned silence as she continued her message about Tyler's angelic behavior. The boy that seemed to be possessed by the darkest demons just 12 hours ago? I could feel the walls start to close in on me as I realized that my son is a two faced liar, and he played us like a fiddle. How could I ever have sympathy for Tyler and his Crocodile tears again? Little faker.

    "... press 7. To save this message, press 9."

    Snapping back to reality, I pressed 9 and folded the phone closed. Sarah's mouth made an audible thud as it hit the floor when I relayed the message. I told her that I saved the message because I knew she wouldn't believe me.


    hollystar said...

    what a little turd. :)

    Joanna said...

    Aren't they the coolest? We like Hyland's Teething Tablets too. A friend of mine used them for her kiddo and highly recommended them: Tim picked them up at either Walmart or Kroger. Cuz you know, there's lots of places to shop in Auburn.

    A Free Man said...

    I'm pretty sure Zach is addicted to baby Panadol (Tylenol). I am too, teething for the boy has been looooonnnnggg and painful for us all, I'm pretty sure we're singlehandedly stimulating the company that makes Panadol.

    As for that power point - 2 to 3 months? Are you a bit of a perfectionist, Joe?

    A Free Man said...

    Oh, and the faking - totally. Zach is an accomplished faker. How do they learn so early!

    Not Afraid to Use It said...

    I do not miss those teething days. At all.

    I love that you did that PowerPoint for the party. I have actually been doing something similar for a contest on my blog. I do have to say that it seems you took the hard way. I would bet that you could have ripped the majority of the quotes off of YouTube. If you want details, email me. :)

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