Flashback Friday Moment of The Week: 5/23/2014

by Juan Thomas
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Earlier this week, while writing in Triumphs & Tribulations XIV, I took a peek at some of my entries in Triumphs & Tribulations VII from May 2007. It was during this time 7 years ago that I made the move from the United States to Tokyo. On my way over to the Land of the Rising Sun, my father threw a surprise party for me in which he proved that he’s still a step ahead of me. That leads me to this week’s moment in the Flashback Friday series: the surprise farewell party.

How I first came across this moment? After finishing up my military assignment at Moody Air Force Base, I took a couple of weeks of leave to hang around Birmingham before I made my port call for Tokyo. I remember distinctly telling my father that I didn’t really want a farewell party. Honestly, I didn’t want the attention. A couple of days into my 2-week leave, my dad broached the idea and I, again, declined. My father looked at me and gave me one of those “Hmmm…OK” responses. About a week and a half later, 2 days before my scheduled departure for Tokyo, my father called me from my hanging out in Downtown Birmingham to come check out houses with him. Apparently, he was in the market for a new residence and he wanted my opinion on some spots he was “considering”. The first house was what I would expect: nice place, empty, and with a “For Sale” sign in the front yard. But when we got the 2nd house, it looked like the place was still occupied and there were a lot of cars in the driveway. My dad suggested we go in and meet the owners, make an offer. So we went in and “Surprise”…my family was there to surprise me at a farewell party. My father even got one of my best friends to attend. I was definitely stunned and it showed on my face. That’s when my father explained. It all started during Game 5 of the 2007 Spurs-Suns NBA playoff series, which he and I had watched together a couple of nights before. He mentioned that he couldn’t have the party at his house because I’d notice so he made plans to have it at my stepsister’s house. He also mentioned that he noticed my Motorola RAZR V3, the cell phone I had at the time, and how he got the numbers of my friends while making it appear that he was testing the features of the device. The final piece of the puzzle was getting me to the party. He knew that just telling me to show up at a certain place would lead me to believe it was a surprise party. So, he used the house hunting as a cover.

What it meant to me then? At the time, I thought it was a smart move. My father had always told me that regardless of how many degrees I acquire or how many places life takes me, he’d still have a step on me based on 22 more years of life.

What it means to me now? Today, I still feel the same way. I think I’m a pretty wise guy…not easily fooled. But that moment reminds me that even the fox can be outsmarted.

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