It was soon to be the wife's Big Birthday, and I wanted to do something nice for her to celebrate this major milestone. Last year, for mine, she got together with my friends and gave me a surprise dinner, so I knew I had to try and surprise her as well.
The operation took several people and a month to plan. Daniel, Jessica and Geok Shan, from agencies who represented Ben & Jerry's (my favourite ice-cream folks), asked me if I wanted to "punk" someone with a day of kindness. I told them, yes. And I wanted that person to be my wife.
The idea was that we would create a perfect day for her. Things would go her way the whole day. For instance, she would go to work, and get a free cab ride out of the blue.
Then we had our first major hiccup. She told me she had applied for leave on the day of her birthday.
That meant a mad scramble to change the plans we had in mind. A revised schedule was hastily put together. We found out that she had booked a massage session for the two of us using a credit card offer she had, for Sunday.
"We need the spa appointment to be at Monday, 5pm so that you can go to the dinner after," said Jessica.
I called the wife and told her maybe we should change our appointment from Sunday to Monday.
"I thought you are working on my birthday?"
"Er, I can take leave lah. So Monday ok?"
So she called the spa to change it to Monday as I asked, and they told her they only had 5pm available. This was because by now, we had roped them in too.
It was now Sunday night, the night before her birthday.
I told her that I had just gotten free tickets to visit Universal Studios Singapore, to check out the attractions we missed the first time we were there. She thought that was a great way to spend the morning.
We got up early, had a lovely breakfast at the market (even ordered the noodles that was always sold out when we visited on weekends), then I told her, "Oh, we don't need to worry about transport to Resorts World, we are riding there in a limousine."
She was quite thrilled to hear we had such a nice ride.
"At our disposal all day?" she asked. I said yes, and came up with some excuse that I was supposed to review the limousine service for my blog.
Off we went in our black limo to Sentosa. We checked out the attractions we missed the first time, like the Waterworld show, the Lights Camera Action show, and the Enchanted Airways mini-coaster (a milder roller coaster for kids). This time we avoided the big coaster rides because A) we already tried them and B) she didn't want to get too dizzy so early in the day.
Over lunch, the wife commented how smoothly the day had unfolded, like the sun was shining just for us today. I smiled.
Then Dino, our driver swung by to pick us up to get us to Elements Spa for our 5pm appointment at Cathay. I texted Daniel that we were on the way and he texted back that the team was rushing from Resorts World and told me not to get there too early.
I had to stall for time so I told the wife, let's have a drink first. Now the wife is a stickler for punctuality and she looked a little worried that we would be late for the appointment. I told her we had plenty of time, nooooo worries.
Then I got word that my co-conspirators had arrived and sucking up the rest of my teh-si kosong, I told the wife we could go.
At the spa counter, Daniel was waiting, looking the part. I tried my best not to burst out laughing. Jessica pretended to be a customer and sat quietly at the waiting area.
My wife told him we had an appointment at 5pm and he checked and then declared, "Congratulations! You are our 10,000th customer and we are upgrading your massage to a full 2 hour scrub and massage session, for FREE!"
The wife was pleasantly surprised. "Free? For both of us?" she asked.
"Yes!" said Daniel, "Now may I see your IC? I need to record your particulars." Then he proceeded to write on some random scrap of paper. Which my wife later told me she noticed but did not question.
"Wow, so nice. And it is my birthday too. What a nice surprise," said the wife.
One of the actual spa staff called out to Daniel, "Boss, boss, need to take photo of them and you."
The actual boss of the place sportingly volunteered to take the photo of us with Daniel the "Boss". She grabbed the Polaroid camera and tried to use it, but had some trouble operating it. So she handed the camera to Jessica, the random "customer".
Jessica did her best to pretend like it is the most normal thing for a customer to help take a photo of another customer who had just won something. Once again, the wife noticed this unusual glitch in the Matrix but was too happy with her free spa package to think too much of it.
We had our spa session, all two hours of it, and it was time for dinner. Our driver, Dino, came swooping over in his S-Class to drive us to Sushi Yoshida, a lovely little place at Devonshire Road. In the car, my wife sent a status update to her Facebook with the word, "Memorable."
She didn't know how much more memorable it was going to be.
Once we sat down, before I could even order, the waitress told us the chef will prepare the entire meal for us. The wife again felt it strange but thought, this must be one of those places where you eat whatever the chef prepares. She did not notice that I did not even ask how much it would cost me.
We ate sashimi, sushi and a host of exotic Japanese dishes. In the middle of dinner, the restaurant burst into a Happy Birthday song... for another customer.
"Aiyoh, so paiseh," my wife said with a smile. "You better don't do that to me ah. Hahaha!"
I smiled again.
When we reached our last course, it was the cue for Daniel, Jessica and the rest of the gang who planned this Big Day to pop up with a tub of Chunky Monkey ice-cream with a candle on it (it is her fave flavour, I told the team).
"Happy birthday!" they chorused.
The wife was also told that she was the first recipient of Ben & Jerry's Free Cone Day, since she is getting her free ice-cream a day earlier than the day itself.
They took some photos of my still bewildered wife and me, shot a little video, and disappeared as quickly as they appeared, discreetly leaving us to enjoy the rest of our evening.
The wife took the rest of the evening to piece together the day, replaying the day to see where the clues were. "Like a movie plot," she laughed.
She was totally overwhelmed but very happy. Thanks to Ben & Jerry's for helping me shower my wife with a perfect Big Day. I think I scored enough brownie points to last for the next decade.