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Draplin Design Co., North America
February 16, 2003
60!: Dad's Surprise Birthday Party
Posted at 03:22 PM


As promised, either for posterity or historical documentation’s sake, we here at the Draplindustries Design Co. are offering a detailed account of Dad’s 60th Surprise Birthday Party.

The decision to throw dad a party was made well before Christmas. The old man was turning 60, a milestone, a testament, a reason, if any, to get everyone together to pay tribute; and get loaded. Mom and Sarah got the ball rolling with calls to caterers, halls and hotels. Of course, all “under the breath,” as keeping this whole ménage a secret was of utmost importance. From my end out west, I got a postcard going, as well as the crowd pleaser 1” buttons. The family and friends were invited, and you bet, the RSVP calls started to pour in. From the get go, we knew this revelry would be a success.

Getting all the kids in one place is a challenge. Everyone has left the nest. Leah and Nate were coming up from college, Sarah was coming up from her Audiologist job in Detroit and I was flying in from Portland. Hell, even Melissa was coming in, from her Sioux Falls winter haunt. All the troops were needed.

I flew into Detroit, where Uncle Kevin picked me up. Always good to see him. We drove the 40 minutes north, intersecting the metro area up towards the Northeast suburbs. He dropped me off at Sarah’s, and I got the pleasure of getting reacquainted with my little sister and my better half. We drove up north the next day. On our way out of town, we stopped at Sarah’s office. She checked my hearing (passed with flying colors) and made a mold of my ear canal. Whoa, sonic! I’m still trying to figure out why she had me drop my drawers for a hearing test. Hmmm.

We were northbound soon after. Sarah drove like a banshee, passing cars and tailgating like any good Detoiter. I finally lost my shit and let out a barrage of threats and expletives begging for my life on the snowy northwoods roads. Me made it up north safely. Thank the heavens. We checked into “basecamp” (a string of Holiday Inn rooms reserved for people coming in for the party) and made our way out to mom and dad’s.

Saturday afternoon was prep time. All the Aunts, Uncles, Cousins and friends came together and got everything ready. Unca Terry, Unca Pat and Unca Mike stocked a wicked bar. Aunt Mary led a legion of cousins in the decorating. Sarah freaked out. Kelsey and Melissa caught up on all things pertinent. I got a keg. And a tap.

The party was perfect. The big moment went off without a hitch. We lured dad in with a whooped up story about a “benefit fish fry for a couple guys who fell through the ice.” A fish fry, for guys who feel through the ice? Right. Well, the old man bought it. We all walked in, dad paused for a second and sort of caught on. The flashbulbs started bursting and a scream rose, a thuderclap of voices, saying, “Surpriiiiiiise.” Dad walked into the hall, wide eyed and let out a spirited, “Holy Shit.”

And with that, the party began. The turnout was amazing. I saw cousins I didn’t even know I had. Lots of family and friends to chat with. We ate, we drank, we chatted. Dad opened a mountain of presents.

From my little niche, many good friends attended. Bry and Tracey brought Little Eva out into the cold for the big night. She slept through it all. That’s good, she needs the rest in her formative years. Always good to see Campbell. Miss him. Chad Smith made a late appearance and updated me with his new happenings. A brother.

Dad had a great time. He entertained the crowd, mingled and caught up with everyone. The whole debacle was a stellar success. I look forward to his 70th, 80th, 90th…. Etc.

The rest of my weekend was spent hanging out with mom and dad; eating amazing mealsm talking and watching tube. Lots of relaxing. It is always good to be home. Having Melissa, Leah, Nate and Sarah in for the event also made it all complete.

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SPORTING BONUS: Any event inlvolving a pool is an opportunity for Dad to unleash his famous “Moby Kowalski” dive. He’s been performing this family tradition for ages–impressing all onlookers and naysayers–and of course, clearing out the pool with his volume-counter-distributing leviathan mass. The sequence above shows the takeoff, and aftermath of such an incident. Special thanks to the East Bay Holiday Inn pool area for allowing this sporting anomaly to take place.

There Are 6 Comments

Damn, Draplin. What an amazing celebration, really wish I could’ve been there. You’re from good country up there; the kind of (relatively) unspoilt wood-lands that sons-of-bitches like Ryno and I always wished we had hailed from, in contrast to the farmscape or tract-housing suburban nightmare that is southwest Michigan. You and your dad are both Hero Champions cut from the finest heavy-duty, duck canvas cloth.

Posted by: Hoss Chimmel on 02/16/03 at 8:55 PM

Hey Aaron!

Great recap of the special day. It was great getting together with everyone again and seeing your Dad in his glory over this bash! Bartending was a blast and I got to meet some really fun people. Some of those ol’ timers can really drink. It was especially good seeing you and Mellisa again. (She’s really special!) It’s not too often our family is all together and the best part of this was it wasn’t for a funeral. Plus, we all had fun. Your Dad’s the best! Thanx for the cool hat! I enjoy your website and I’ve linked to your friends also and I am so impressed with the incredible amount of talent you all have. (PJ especially…and I don’t think he looks like a gay cop! Gay cops are scarey!) Anyway, keep up your success, and come back to visit soon!

Posted by: Uncle Terry on 02/17/03 at 7:52 AM

Benefit Fish-Fry for two guys who Fell Through The Ice. That is world-class material. Fuck, I love the North-Woods!

Posted by: ryno on 02/17/03 at 11:49 AM

Wonderful account of the level of deception and lies we all had to live through during the preceding weeks leading up to this party. I really never thought we’d pull it off, even having trouble breathing on the ride into town on the way to the ‘benefit’……he must have asked me 50 times if anything was going on that weekend (relating to any kind of party for him)…..

Dad is still flying high with all the great memories and wishes it would happen all over again…..seeing all those relatives and friends talking and laughing and imbibing…..good food, many laughs, glad it all worked out!

We are a lucky family to have each other…..

Glad I gave up my life to raise you kids; wish I could train this damn dog to get my vodka and cigarettes while I watch the “View”……

Posted by: yo' momma on 02/18/03 at 11:42 AM

aaron’s dad secret identity is christopher cringle….also he is sometimes confused in public places as the late jerry garcia. at public pools he is often known as greg luganis.

Posted by: roger on 02/20/03 at 9:25 AM

Hey Aaron,
Sorry we couldn’t make the event. Your dad was more than pleased to show Janet and I 6 hours of video and mpegs. By the way, great website.

Posted by: Jim on 03/07/03 at 1:03 PM