Live from Baghdad

My adventures in Iraq.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Eight in a Row

Wow, I just realized how long it had been since my last post. I think I might still be recovering from my surprise birthday party. That’s right, my wife managed to throw me a surprise party from the other side of the world. What makes this an even better story is that I think this is the eighth year in a row that she’s pulled off a surprise party. That’s right, 8 straight birthdays. You would think that sometime before March 22nd every year, I’d start to get suspicious. However, this year I would have been excused for not expecting it. Not only was I in Iraq, but she was in South Africa doing research for her thesis.

The night of my birthday started off innocently enough. A group of friends took me to dinner at one of the few restaurants in the Green Zone. We had a good time but I was surprised and a little annoyed when my friends wanted to leave right after dinner instead of hanging out like we usually did. (Hint No. 1)

Someone suggested we go back and watch a DVD. It didn’t seem like much of a birthday celebration, but I shrugged it off as another sacrifice I made when I decided to deploy. After we arrived at our compound, I told my friends that I had to return my mom’s phone call from earlier that day. I walked home, called my mom and we talked for a long time. I must have been feeling a little homesick as I kept stretching out the conversation. Looking back on it, I realize she was trying to end the call but was too nice to be blunt about it. (Hint No. 2)

Suddenly, my radio crackles to life and I hear my call sign over the net, “Rugby…Rugby, this is Viking, over.” It’s my friends and I assume they want me to hurry up so they can start the movie. (Hint No. 3 – we rarely use the radios for something like that.) I finally say goodbye to my mom and start walking over.

As I walk up to my friend’s house, someone cracks the door. I notice more people, loud music, and decorations. My brain struggles to reconcile this input with the plan to watch a movie. “Huh…what are they doing here? this the right house?....what’s all that food and drink on the counter?...wait a, can’t be...hold on, maybe…” SURPRISE!

And instantly, I knew. Susan had done it again.

Belated thanks to Aaron, Kirk, Tim, Tamara, Pam and all of my USAID and Corps friends. Thanks to Mom and Dad for embarrassing me by sending over old school pictures which were posted at the party. And, as always, thanks to my lovely, but sneaky, wife.