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March 7, 2010 @ 12:33pm

Friday night I flew home from L.A. to make it back in time for the birthday my wife and I share. I landed just after midnight and was wondering if since I was in the air between time zones when March 6 arrived that maybe I hadn't turned 40. No such luck.

I don't remember freaking out when I turned 30, but I definitely had a couple of troubled moments when 40 was approaching. Niki made sure all of that was far from my mind.

We had breakfast and lunch with our three kids and debated what movie we were going to see after our dinner without the kids. Niki was adamant that it wasn't going to be Avatar since we spent our birthday last year at the opening night of Watchmen. Oh, and we also had to drop off some ski helmets to a friend's house after our dinner. She told me about that when I was at LAX on Friday.

While I was with the kids after lunch, Niki got me a "Big Four-Oh" balloon and a flashing pin to wear on my shirt so everyone would know I was now 40. Even not flashing, that pin got me a dozen double takes at Starbucks. After lunch, Niki ran some errands and said the balloon had escaped out the back of our minivan. Seriously? If you had to pick one, I'd have hoped the blinking pin would have been the thing to let float off into the sky.

My first surprise that night was a fantastic massage appointment before our dinner reservations while Niki read a book in the waiting room. Driving to dinner, Niki calculated that we had an extra half hour and could drop off those helmets in advance. She called her friend Vanessa and said we'd be stopping by and then we debated whether all of these people should be called her friends or our friends.

For a split second, I wondered if something was up. A few weeks ago we went to a surprise party for our friend Carolyn. It was the only surprise party I can ever remember going to and I've never had one of my own. But nothing else was setting off any alarms in my brain. There were only two cars in their driveway. Even the part where she said to just open the door and not ring the doorbell to wake their baby didn't register as odd.

I walked in and was surprised by more than a dozen of our friends. Wow. We had great food and way too many great drinks. That "Big Four-Oh" balloon was at the party too. It hadn't been lost. Cool!

To let you know how disoriented I was by all of this, for several minutes I was still thinking we were just eating dinner there and then heading off to our late movie. After a while I realized that all the debating we did about movies was a setup. In the car at one point I was coughing and Niki gave me a strange look. I guessed that she was thinking "this is going to suck if he does this at the movies tonight" and she agreed, like I was reading her mind. We both laughed. Of course, she was laughing because we weren't going to a movie. Incredible.

This morning after 3 hours of sleep, I pieced together all of the events from the party Hangover-style. I wasn't missing any of my teeth, but my wallet was left behind, my iPhone had a bunch of birthday text conversations I didn't remember and Safari was open to a Google image search of "fergie pissed herself" — so it must have been a great party, right?

Thank you Niki and all of your my friends!

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