(photo credit: xanthe berkeley)
Subtitle: How to plan a super secret last minute surprise mission!
As many of you (perhaps) know, I am currently in a long distance relationship with a British boy. I live in Montreal. He lives in London. That’s London, Eng-a-lund, which is many many miles away from Canada. Roughly 3,200 miles and change as the crow flies, to be sure. With a giant pond in the middle.
Today, we celebrate 2 years of this beautiful love affair. Two years of flying back and forth, meeting and leaving each other at various airports, clocking hundreds of hours on Skype and sending thousands of post cards and emails and texts messages. Oh! The things we do in the name of love!
The actual date of our anniversary was ambiguous given our special circumstances, but we eventually put it to a vote and it was unanimously decided that the day we met, March 3rd 2009, should be the day. As one of my readers said of her own relationship: “The day we first laid eyes on each other. The journey of us started then, and anything else that followed, followed. There is only one first. So the day you met is my vote.” I couldn’t agree more. It’s been two years since we first laid eyes on each other and we are still ridiculously smitten, which is, I suppose, one of the benefits of a long distance relationship…. the honeymoon stage never ends.
It stands to reason that I would want to do something special for the British boy because he’s a special kind of guy and this day merits a celebration despite (or precisely due to) the fact that we are 3,200 miles (and change) apart and can’t be together tonight. So what does a girl do with only 3 days to plan something special for her man? She rallies her friends, that’s what! (It’s true, I only started planting the seeds of a plan on Monday afternoon and the plot has since thickened splendidly, like the perfect gravy).
Side note: Joe Stewart, so help me, if you happen to be reading this (which is highly unlikely), please avert your eyes right this second and go surf another site. I’d hate to spoil a good surprise and I know I am taking my chances by writing this but I trust you will stop reading… here.
My initial idea was to have someone post signs of things that mean very little to anyone else but us (memorable moments and recurring inside jokes) outside his workplace in Soho. Posters taped randomly. On walls, lamp posts, benches, garbage bins, doors, etc. I was then going to somehow send him on a trip down memory lane during his lunch hour, which would have been rather nice, I think. But I quickly put the kibosh on this plan when I found out that Soho is crawling with policemen and one would likely encounter a hefty fine for posting signs. This would have surely taken the fun out of my super secret mission.
That is when the lovely Xanthe came up with the brilliant idea of mailing the posters in individual envelopes to his work address. 15 posters and 1 letter, which Xanthe printed and folded and addressed and mailed first class post. How sweet is that? She took the following photos to document her mission. Mission brilliantly accomplished, I’d say. Thank you, Miss Berkeley.
Next, I wanted to buy a bottle of whiskey for the boy because whiskey is our thing. But I didn’t want to have it simply delivered. A man has to work a little bit for his whiskey, non? So I decided that I would send him on a scavenger hunt of sorts.
First, I arranged to have brownies (his favorite) delivered to his workplace this morning with a note that reads:
“Happy anniversary Mr. Stewart! What an adventure the past 2 years have been. In keeping with that theme, I thought I’d send you on a little adventure during your lunch hour. Your first mission is to find a note in your backpack with further instructions. If there is no note to be found, it means that one of my elves failed in their mission. Should that be the case, please contact me and I will have them fired straight away. Have fun. With love, your Canadian girl. xo”
I then enlisted the help of his brother and asked him to hide a map with the following instructions in Joe’s backpack:
“Take a lunchtime stroll to Blackwell’s Bookshop. Text me on the way for further instructions.”
I clearly needed another helping hand for this next phase. This is where the delightful Leonie stepped in. Super secret agent Leonie was my accomplice during a previous assignment so I knew she would be the perfect person for the job. Her mission this time (and she chose to accept it) was to hide the following clue in a Winnie the Pooh book (Winnie has special significance to Joe and I). However, in case of a jam, she could hide it in any convenient book. I mean, you never know when you’re going to have to make a run for it. These missions are highly dangerous.
“Before heading back to work, pop in to the following address.
Something is waiting for you there.
Tell the person behind the counter that you are there to pick something up for Batman”
Leonie is currently on her way to the bookstore and will provide me with the precise location of the book in question, which I will then forward to Joe.
The last clue leads him to a whiskey shop, where I have ordered a bottle of Caol Ila and asked the sales person to keep it behind the counter for Joe. This is the message I sent to the Manager:
Further to our conversation, could you please attach the following note to the bottle of Caol Ila, which I ordered via telephone earlier today:
“A little something with which to toast the past 2 years when we chat tonight. Happy anniversary, love. This marks the end of your lunch time adventures. Now get back to work, you slacker. xo”
Also, I’ve told said boyfriend that something will be waiting for him behind the counter at your address tomorrow (Thursday) early afternoon. I have given him strict instructions to tell the person behind the counter that he is there to pick something up for Batman. I know. It’s entirely ludicrous, but I couldn’t resist. I hope your sales people have a good sense of humor (since you are English, I reckon you do :)
Thanks for indulging in this silly request. Joe & I have been in a long distance relationship for 2 years so we are always trying to keep things interesting.
The manager’s response: Everything is in place and they are very much looking forward to his arrival.
And now, we wait. All my secret agents have successfully completed their missions. The brownies and posters are on their way, the note is in the backpack, the clue is in a Winnie the Pooh book, the whiskey is purchased. The wheels have all been set in motion, I just hope no monkey wrenches are thrown in them. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the plan will work out but no matter what happens (and there is potential for any number of glitches when it comes to such things), I am so grateful for the generosity shown and playful spirit exuded by all. This has been such a fun surprise to plan and I couldn’t have done it without a little help from my friends. Thank you, secret agents.
I’m so excited to see how the day pans out. What I wouldn’t give to be a fly on the many walls of Soho today. I promise to provide a quick update by day’s end.
UPDATE: the whole thing went off without a hitch and the British boy was well chuffed about the whole experience (if his comment below is any indication :) JOY!
What is the best surprise you have ever planned?
Jeanine is a regular contributor to Gypsy Girl’s Guide.