About three years ago, I was in my final year at uni and my dissertation was due three days after my birthday. I was planning to let my birthday go by and then celebrate when my dissertation was finished.
I’d had a bit of a bust up with my flatmate, which consisted of her telling me that the flat was too messy and me agreeing but saying I couldn’t do anything about it at the time as my dissertation was due. I was therefore holed up in the library the majority of the time, trying to avoid more confrontation.
I had been to America the previous month, doing research for my dissertation, so it was really important to me that I did well. I hadn’t eaten or slept properly in days. Or changed my clothes. I just needed to get it done.
In the midst of all this, a friend said to me, “O, let’s go out for dinner for your birthday.”
I was like, how oblivious can you be? I’m clearly way too busy right now. Just hold off until the weekend and then I’ll be free.
In the nicest possible way, I kind of said, “I’d prefer not to.”
But he was insistent. “Yeh, let’s go for dinner for your birthday.” Another friend was there, looking at me expectantly.
I then kind of tried to say in a nice way, “Ok, but it needs to be really close by so that I can come straight back to the library.”
But no! He wanted to half way across London to Paddington. What. On. Earth! This is ridiculous. And really annoying. Why would you go all across London when there’s plenty of places for dinner near uni and you know I’m busy.
“It’s a great little place which does Lebanese food.”
I’m sorry, pardon? Lebanese food? You’ve brought me all the way across London to a random little restaurant, right in the middle of working on my dissertation and not being in a good mood after having a bit of an argument with my flatmate…. For Lebanese food. I mean there’s nothing wrong with Lebanese food, its nice, but it’s not like I’m a well known Lebanese food lover. Italian, yes. French, ok. Thai, I’m there. But never in a million years would I choose a Lebanese restaurant myself.
“Just go into the pub next door for a quick drink while I make sure everything’s ready in there.”
What. On. Earth. I need to eat and leave ASAP. I don’t need to be hanging around ‘having a drink’. I was on the verge of saying, “Thanks for the effort and everything but I’m going to go now. I’m trying not to offend you because I see that you’ve made loads of effort but I have to do my dissertation.”
Anyway, I go into this pub with my other friend, while the organising friend goes to the restaurant. We go in and there’s a bar upstairs that I’m told to go to as it’s quieter.
Up the stairs I go, into the little bar and….
“SURPRISE!” shout a load of my friends. I look into the room, see everyone looking at me and walk off…..
Not the traditional response, I realise. But really now… A party all the way across London, three days before I’m due to hand in my dissertation, my final peice of work for my degree, the culmination of three years of hard work. Really?
I sat in the toilet for about 20 minutes assessing the situation while another friend convinced me it would be fine. Eventually I chilled out a bit and rejoined the party. And it was lovely. Of course it was lovely. It was fabulous to see everyone in the same place. And I had a great time after managing to force myself to forget about the deadline. But I’m not going to lie, it was extremely badly timed.
The same friend who organised it also got me a nice dress (to wear to the party, but when he tried to convince me to wear it, I gave him a look that said I was not pleased). A few weeks later, I decided to wear the dress somewhere. I put it on and it was faaaaar too big. He had bought me a dress two sizes up from what I wear. TWO sizes up! How can you guess a dress size which takes someone from an average size to a definitely quite large size?
You know sometimes when you’re like ‘Are you EVER paying attention when I speak or do anything?’ That was how this incident felt.
How does a person sitting in a library day in day out for about two weeks, three days away from handing in a peice of work which really matters to her, make you think, o I’ll throw a surprise party right before her hand in date?
And that is my one and only experience of surprise parties! No-one else has thrown one for me since. I think I know why…