(Well, it actually changes nearly once a week.)


One hot day during the summer of '93 I was out on the river, fishing with my friends Chris and Kris. I hadn't been fishing in decades. Back in the days when I did a fair amount of angling it was of the dry-fly variety, so this spin-casting stuff was foreign to me. Chris, a genuine fish-o-phile, hauled in the little creatures right and left while Kristin and I sat with fishless lines in the water--discussing the meaning of life, the universe and everything.We headed back to town late in the afternoon, as I was invited to attend an evening house-warming party for my friend Tonya. So I drove out to her new place, a rental house (sans Gillooly) east of Portland, with some small present for the occasion.

I knocked on the front door, then heard Tonya's voice via the open garage: "We're in here, Joe!" So I went through the garage, up the couple of steps to a strangely-empty kitchen and was instantly stunned by a crowd of people shouting: "Surprise!" Chief among the heart-attack planners was Tonya who, decked out in matching tie-dyed pink shorts and tank top and sporting a huge smile, was upon me in a flash to give me a hug and wish me a happy birthday.

I'd never felt quite so conspicuous in my life. She found my embarrassment to be worthy of much laughter, on her part especially. Due to Tonya's dead-pan and nonchalant invitation to her "house warming" party, I was actually surprised by her and the other surprisers; and that remains the one and only such ambush to which I've been subjected.

There were the traditional balloons and streamers, a birthday cake, photographs taken--plus presents from Tonya, of course. We all had a good time. And that's the end of this little story, the memory of which still brings a smile to my face.

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