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My last year's Birthday Saga. It's little lengthy, but I've been wanting to tell it for a long time.
Well it's that time of year again when my lady plans a fabulous birthday surprise for me. I must say whatever she plans it is truly a surprise, but she really got me last year. As I learn now, Weekendershe started planning in February of last year. First calling my two daughters to get them in on the secret, she made sure that they along with other family members were able to attend the festivities. And then to call my friend in Seattle, Robert Damper, to make sure he was able to attend. Robert was my keyboard player that used to kick it with Fatback many years ago, but is currently grooving with Kenny G, the renowned saxophonist.
Well, as inquisitive as I am, I started asking questions and of course she gave me enough to make my own assumptions. At one point she'd gotten a little upset because everyone that I approached, I asked the magic question..."What does she have planned for me" "Where am I going"... I couldn't  get any information from anyone so I started questioning the Grands. She was on top of that too. The children were rehearsed to answer back when I asked "Where is grandma taking me this year"...their reply would be only..."To see a man about a dog". I was really sweating then.
It's not like me not to be in the know about vacations and trips she plans frequently for me. So thinking that I slipped up on some information...I started to ask questions and tell my buddies that she was taking me to the Caribbean. She'd say, "Bill don't be surprised if you get no further than Hope Mills", which is the next city from my hometown, less than 20 miles away. I was for sure I would be going on a weekend outing on a plane  somewhere but my mindset was the Caribbean. She saw that I was not going to take no place else for an answer so she planted little information in her office about excursions, hotels, flight information etc. I just knew I had her then...I'd put two & two together. I was boarding a plane for about 5 days, going only God knows where to the islands.
Then I found out her cousin was in on the planning and started picking her for answers. I should have known better but I fell in that trap too. She is worse than my lady...she don't give up any information, but will make you think your own assumptions are correct. that point I called Robert. I asked him to call to find out what was going on and get back to me. Even gave him an open invitation to come along, not knowing that he was in on the surprise as well and boy did he play it off good. As I was calling him to gather information, he was feeding information back to her.
Well that time was nearly approaching. Normally she starts to pack about 2 weeks out...I noticed that the suitcases had not come out, but I noticed some funny stuff going on. The brochures & notes were missing. I am not hearing any conversations about my surprise trip. I was really getting antsy. Still questioning friends, family members & the grand kids...No one knew anything. About a week away, things were so hush, hush; I started to ask her questions. She was too calm about the whole thing. This is normally her time to start getting excited and making last minute preparations. Well, I didn't see it happening fast enough!
But I got an email I thought was by mistake, not knowing it was part of the scheme, that stated, "I have purchased the flight tickets for us and looks like everything is a go. I will meet you guys at the airport." I had all the information I needed then! This information was accidentally sent to me by her cousin. I called Robert to let him know that I knew everything now and wondered if he contacted Terri in time to make arrangements to meet us...In the Caribbean.
Two days out, she pulled out a small over night bag. I told her "Babe, that bag looks mighty small". I didn't realize she was turning the trick really on me now. She replied, "Didn't I tell you months ago, you may not go no further than Hope Mills?... I meant that", she said. I knew she wasn't telling the truth because she had planned some fabulous birthday surprises in the past, so I knew she had to be lying.
Well, this is what happened next...are you ready because I was about to learn that I was in for a rude awakening. On that Friday, I found it sWeekendertrange that she went to work (or at least that's where I thought she was...Her boss & co-workers were in on this too). There was just no way she could leave for my birthday weekend on a Saturday and we get the full effects from a 5 day weekend blast. Well she called me at 1:00 and said "Hey Babe I'm on my way home, you about ready for your weekend?" I calmly answered yes, knowing I was bursting with suspense. She arrived home, did her last minute stuff and by that time it was about 4. I said if we are going to the airport don't you think we should be heading up the road (thinking we were going to RDU)? She still in a calm state said yes. But, when were heading out...we did not go 95N...we were headed 95S, which I found very strange. By that time a phone call comes in, she says "yes, I am on the way to the airport now...hurry up...I've waited too long for this. If you don't get my tickets there I will be furious". We arrive at the Fayetteville airport. Me with a nice size bag filled with swim gear, casual wear, sun screen, XM radio and in the other hand my lap top. Now I really noticed her bag was even smaller and that was very much so out of character for her when we normally travel.
Well she was going to park in "short term" and I convinced her that parking would be cheaper if we parked "long term". She agreed. Now parked, here we go walking all the way across the parking lot with my vacationing goods. I asked her why she was walking so slow "come on" I said. Little did I know she was trying to borrow time. We got in the terminal and I headed to the ticket counter. She said "Bill, sit down and relax. Didn't you hear me tell Barbara (her cousin) to hurry with the tickets?" So as I sat, I noticed her on her cell again. I didn't catch that conversation. All of a sudden, a group of people came around the corner with a dozen of balloons. It was Robert, JD (Terri's cousin from Jersey), Terri's kids (known as my buddies..), Reshod, Tiffany & Tisha and more friends. Happy Birthday they shouted! Still thinking...OK..all that is cute but I got a plane to catch. Not dawning on me that my buddy was here from Seattle...just figured he was catching that connecting flight with us...& JD from Jersey...hmm...After all the thank you's, I still headed toward the ticket counter...She said babe, this is your surprise...Robert is here. I was a little disappointed, not because he was here, but I didn't see anything but the Caribbean.
Well, Reshod left before anyone else did and she even used that in on the scheme. Head down in disappointment, we headed back to the truck. Tried not to show disappointment, I played the game. Her next destination was to the hotel supposedly to let Robert check in. I then asked, "why did Reshod leave the airport in a hurry?"  She told me that he'd went ahead to get the hotel room set up with the spirits! Still didn't sound as exciting as the blue waters & beautiful "Big Legged" girls, as she knows is my passion. But I hung in there. When we got to the hotel, I said "Hey, aren't you going to get a key? She said I told you Reshod had that covered. Just go to room # & knock on the door, I'll be on. I knocked on the door and got no response. By then, kicking on the door, I then hollered, "Hey Reshod, open the door and don't be doing nothing funky in my room!" When the door opened, there was my whole family from Pennsylvania. I was too outdone then. There was Jerry, Sandra & all the grand kids...but where were my two daughters? I'd spoken to them prior to leaving home for my week end trip and they didn't tell me they were coming & I don't see them at this point.
We rode to my buddy's home in Hope Mills and that's when I sorta kinda found out what was going on. The guys couldn't wait until the next day of the real party. They had the "Dawg House" set up for a Friday night fish fry...all for me! And it was on from there. I still did not see the big picture but was at ease. My buddy was here from Seattle, JD was here from Jersey, a portion of my family was here from PA, but still, where were my girls? No one spoke of them. My grandson, Jared gave me a hint, but at this point, I wasn't for certain, and I'd been misled for months.
The next morning, Saturday, my girls arrived to surprise me as well along with my son-in-laws. This was really exciting now. What's next? I noticed Terri got up & out very early that morning. She got back home after noon, to get Robert & I motivated to get out for the evening. When I arrived back at our friends home in "Hope Mills", man was I shocked. The theme was Caribbean, there were local musicians from the surrounding area, a hog cooking on the grill (with Jerry being in charge of that), fish & chicken frying, pans and pans of food...cheese & macaroni, collards, string beans, potato salad, cole slaw, and the Bar-B-Q pigs feet -tents set up every where, games for the children and activities for the adults. There was even a pool set up for me to get "wet". It was a fun filled day, all planned for me! The "Dawg House" was filled with the sounds of Fatback'n music! She had invited over 300 people to attend the affair. She also started a "money" shirt for me. As I walked around, the guest blessed me with money pinning it to my shirt! Man, was I too outdone. It was a complete occasion. I could not have asked for anything more...I was surrounded by family and friends that traveled near & far to celebrate my 75th birthday & show their love for me, all thanks to my lovely lady. Even though I did not experience the flight & Caribbean, I had an experience of a lifetime. Those that were not in on the planning were told about the adventure to the airport the day before. They got a good laugh on me.
All I can say was it was wonderful! She's planning something for this August as well and all I can figure at this point...all notes & brochures are heading in the direction of ARUBA! I will fill you in on this year's surprise at a later date!
For all my Fatback'n & love life to the fullest. Live on the edge not expecting to jump toward disappointment. Have big dreams & high expectations, but never under estimate the planning of a good woman, especially one that feels affection in surprising you!
Hey, I'm outta here.  Don't keep it for yourself. Spread it. The Music.

Bill Curtis
Fatback Band