A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned my surprise birthday party. It wasn’t actually a surprise; between one well-intentioned friend and another, I wound up knowing not just the date but the time and place of it in advance. I felt bad about that, because either I was going to have to disappoint people by not being surprised, or else I was going to have to fake it.

Drawing on decades of experience seeing friends’ movies and plays, reading their manuscripts, and going to their art exhibitions — most of which have been superlative, but not all — I finessed it pretty easily. “SurPRISEd?” I echoed incredulously, grinning and gaping, when asked by guests whether in fact I had been. “Surprise is not the WORD!!!”

But pretty soon I dropped that when I realized that, though not a surprise as to time and place, it really was, nonetheless, a complete jaw dropper. There’s my high school soccer coach! Clunk. There’s my partner from Moscow! Clunk. (By the way, this is the sound of my jaw dropping, in case that was not clear.) Oh, my God, there’s [a famous TV person]. Clunk. And on and on.

So it was a great surprise after all, and I’m still enjoying it, although that’s only 90% of the point of this comment. (There IS a point; you just have to be patient.)

Best card I got: “Why did the 50-year-old cross the road?” above a nice photo of a road. Open the card: “No particular reason. People your age tend to get disoriented from time to time.”

Best gift: Too close to call. I got a zillion terrific gifts (making any good liberal feel all the more guilty for his good fortune, but let us not veer there again), half of them from Tiffany. (Could this be the reason TIF is up so much from its 1995 low of 14-1/2? The dawning notion that all the baby boomers will now be turning 50 and that as they do, — millions and millions of them — Tiffany will be supplying half the silver clocks, silver key chains, silver bookmarks, silver business-card holders? Does TIF have farther to climb? Does silver? Who makes those blue bags and boxes?)

But this isn’t the point either. Come back tomorrow and I will surely have staggered around to it. (I’m sorry, I don’t usually do this to you, but people my age tend to get disoriented.)

Tomorrow: The Point



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