Thursday, July 22, 2010

Big 50th Birthday Bash!

I had more fun last weekend than I've had in a long time. This year, my eldest brother Dave turns 50. For several years, his wife Judy and I have said we need to do something special for this event. Somehow, Judy managed to pull off a huge quasi-surprise party on Saturday that brought friends and relatives from as far away as California, Seattle, Louisiana and Costa Rica.

Of course, the big to-do was held at a Cajun restaurant to satisfy my family's taste. The food was excellent, although I heard at least two people say that the Gumbo didn't hold a candle to my mom's or my sister's Gumbo.

Dave knew there was something going on for his birthday that day, but he didn't know what, exactly. Around 60 people showed up at Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen in Alpharetta at 5:30. (It goes without saying that Dave is a very popular guy.) A delicious buffet table was already set up with jumbalaya, blackened Tilapia, popcorn shrimp, crawfish fondue, and more goodies. The drinks were flowing. M&M's imprinted with Dave's baby picture were scattered on the tables. Everyone was wearing "old fart" nametags. At 5:45, Dave was led in blind-folded by Judy.

To Dave's surprise, nearly every male guest (and many of the women) were dressed in a black shirt and khaki shorts—a getup that Judy calls "the Dave uniform." It was Judy's idea to email all the invitees a couple weeks ahead of time and invite them to dress like Dave does. Her email recounted how her husband would go into the closet to change into clean clothes and come out wearing an outfit identical to what he was wearing before. Come to think of it, I don't recall seeing Dave in a different outfit in recent months. The Dave uniform was a hoot!

The big 50-inch TV in the party room flipped through an expertly-made slide show depicting over 130 pictures of Dave and family from his 1960 birth to present day. It took the efforts of five different people over the course of two months to get those slide show DVDs made, beginning with the digital photo collection provided by my dad. In the end, my nephew Connor and Dave's friend Paul came through with the goods.

It was great fun seeing ourselves in those photos. Growing up, we'd spent plenty of summer vacations with my cousins from New Orleans, all of whom showed up at the party, except Ariane who'd fallen ill the night before. Her nutty husband Tommy made it, though, and he (as usual) was the life of the party. Among others. It was a roomful of Type A's, for certain.

The most fun was the roast/toast that Judy arranged. Dave's 4- and 7-year-old daughters had fashioned a nice crown that he wore for the entire ordeal. My favorite part was when Dave's friend Jeff (wearing a black Geek t-shirt), read off his two Top-Ten lists.

One thing you need to know about Dave is that he's a total computer geek. I remember him having this IBM 8088 (or similar) computer in our house in Virginia Beach in the late 70's. He used to play this game called Zork in DOS and instructed me to "never buy a computer made by Apple."

Dave went on to become a coder and now has over 30 years' experience in software development. Along with his wife, he runs his own company now. In fact, he's the reason I have some work here in Atlanta—he introduced me to one of his clients, who hired me a couple days later.

Another thing you need to know about Dave and Judy is their penchant for garage-saling. They have perfected the art of bargain hunting to the point that they have developed their own private language that they use at garage sales. Knowing Dave, it's all acronyms—like "OP" for over-priced.

I'd even venture to guess that the majority of their kids' toys and clothes came from garage sales. Every time I'm over at their house, they're parading this new item and that. "We got this at a garage sale for [insert low, low price here]" is probably the most heard phrase in their house.

Hence, Jeff's Top Ten lists were related to those two most endearing qualities and habits of Dave. For your reading pleasure, I've added them to the end of this posting. Dave had a blast during the roast, as did the rest of us.

Wow - what a fun weekend! I had so much fun that I was completely exhausted all day Monday. From my Uncle Mike's tale about shielding his dog Griffin's eyes as the extremely obese Wal-Mart shopper fell out of her bra while pushing her cart with her full upper body laid across it... to the follow-up description by my sister-in-law Jacqui (the radiologist) of the ardurous process of conducting a mammogram on such women... to my cousin Ronnie telling Cajun jokes in the perfect Boudreaux accent, I laughed so hard that weekend that I was bent over in stomach pain on a couple of occasions.

Besides my cousin Ariane, the only person missing from this memorable event was my nephew Jason, who is serving in Afghanistan. Jason, we miss you!

Happy Birthday, Dave!

Top Ten nerd things overheard by Dave:
10 - I haven’t had this much fun since the Northpoint High School Rubik’s Cube festival
9 - Judy, how did you ever let my Unix/DOS/Linux/Windows Today subscription expire?
8 - I can’t believe that is already taken
7 - How could anyone yawn during my Bulgarian travel stories?
6 - Who changed my Al Gore screen saver?
5 - When are they going to start a “Lord of the Rings” 24-hour cable channel?
4 - I am so crazy on my 50th birthday right now I think I am actually going to take my Star Trek: Next Generation action figures out of the box!
3 - Hey, anyone up for a round-table discussion on the Iran-Contra affair?
2 – Finally - Newt Gingrich Chia Pets!
1 - Anyone? I’ve got extra tickets to Nerdapalooza…

Top Ten things recently overheard by Dave at a garage sale:
10 - Hey, how much for the used Dr. Scholl’s foot inserts?
9 - That is not official Chewbacca Stars Wars merchandise
8 - I’ll give you 13 cents for that toaster and not one penny more!
7 - Lady, I had that National Geographic photosynthesis biosphere issue before you!
6 - Lady, touch it again, and I’m going “Mel Gibson” on you!
5 - I’m calling the National Garage Sale Council. These directional road signs stink.
4 - No color-coded pricing labels? So amateur….
3 - ???
2 - Judy, you got the counterfeit $20s ready?
1 - Wow, Viagra is so cheap at garage sales….