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Reverse surprise party sounds nifty to ring in 50

I’m going to let you in on a few secrets.

The first one is big news, but truthfully not that big of a secret.

I have a big birthday coming up this week. Yes, big, as in the big 5-OH.

I’ve long ago stopped lying about my age. If anything, I lie “up.” Tell you I’m “29” and you might think I’ve had some hard living. Tell you I’m 65, and boy, will you be impressed!

There’s a lot of pressure around turning 50. It seems you’re supposed to have angst, depression and plan some huge celebration or adventure all at the same time.

I’m not doing so well on any of those fronts. As for angst, in the last year, I’ve had two weddings, become a mom and seen my career pick up with wonderful radio and TV projects. If I knew 50 was going to feel this good, I would’ve turned it 20 years, because let me tell — 30 wasn’t such a fun year.

As for the big celebration or adventure, it’s like if I’m not climbing Mount Kilamanjaro or throwing a huge party, I’ve somehow failed. Did I mention I had two weddings in the last six months? And just figuring out how to balance my new family and career life is mountain enough for me most days.

That’s how you and I get to what I’ve chosen to do for my 50th birthday.

It is secret No. 2.

I’m throwing a “reverse surprise party.”

The idea started with my dear friend, Heidi, who was my college roommate, and one of the sweetest people you will ever meet. Among her most wonderful qualities is the gift of having a birthday three days before mine. Each year, she ages three days before me. Turning 50 while I’m still in my 40s? I love this woman!

A couple of months ago, my husband did a little research. “Y’know airfares to San Francisco look really cheap for the end of January,” he pointed out. I almost called Heidi and said, “How about we fly out and have birthday dinner with you and Steve?”

Something stopped me in my tracks and instead I emailed her husband the next day. “How about we fly out and we’re at the table when you and Heidi show up for her birthday dinner?”

He loved the idea! Here’s the thing, though — it’s really dangerous to leave me unsupervised. It didn’t take me long to think of Anna, our third roommate senior year. Her birthday is just a few weeks after mine. She also lives close by. Surely, we have to include Anna Banana! Then there’s Cyndi, my best friend since kindergarten! Her birthday is in March. Oh, and Sandra and Gina!

These are all lifelong, dear friends turning 50 in 2013, all living in the Bay Area. The surprise is on. Each of their husbands will be getting them to this nice restaurant in San Francisco under some ruse. Not a single one has a clue that I’m coming to town.

So there you have it — a reverse surprise party. My birthday night, yet the surprise will be for all my friends to celebrate all of their birthdays!

Don’t worry, I haven’t blown it by sharing the secret with you. The party will have happened by the time you read this column.

Will I overcome the obstacle of pulling off a cross-country five-way surprise?

Check this column next week to find out.

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