So, I've been waiting for Maleen to post on the anniversary, so I can share "The Making of" version.
I originally planned to have our anniversary early, say on the 14th of December. Because of the nature of an overnighter, I had some difficult obstacles to overcome. First and foremost, getting a sitter who can spend the night with your kids. For us, this is pretty exclusively family. Unlike many of our friends, our closest family lives 250 miles away—meaning eight hours of driving (four to Orem, four back) at the minimum for any type of babysitting. Needless to say, we don't have family sitters very often.
So priority one, was to get a sitter. I dialed up Grandma and asked if she'd be able to come down. I worked out the details with her and the schedule before I started really planning events; because if I didn't have her, nothing else mattered.
So we got the date scheduled, and I started in planning the evening around what was available on the 14th. I called the Anniversary Inn and reserved a room. I had some other events scheduled in Salt Lake, and I was ready to go. I had the entire evening built up before I learned that the 14th wouldn't work.
Bummer. I unscheduled with Grandma. I unscheduled with Anniversary Inn (they don't like that), and went back to my calendar to try to pull this thing back together.
Maleen and I finally settled on February 1st...yes a couple of months later. Oh, well, it would work, right? So, I rescheduled with Grandma. I rescheduled with the Anniversary Inn. All was going along swimmingly.
It was about the first week in January when we learned that February 1st was out. I called Grandma back. I called Anniversary Inn back. By now, you can imagine how I felt. I looked at the possible dates, and realized everything at the Anniversary in would be scheduled in for Valentine's Day, and the next possibility would be in March.
March? No way.
I went back to the drawing board and decided the only Friday / Saturday that would work fell on January 18th -19th. This was only complicated by the already-planned January 18th laser tag birthday party celebration, and the already-planned January 19th LAN party birthday event. Hmmm. Well, if I worked the Laser Tag party in, and we made it back from Salt Lake before noon...and this went that way, and that went this way... it could all work!
I called Grandma back, praying that Grandma would be available on relatively short notice. Grandma, bless her heart, was available. I called Anniversary Inn back, but the room I had scheduled was already taken. Hmm, now the themed lingerie I ordered was...well, it's still useful, but rather out of theme. Shucks.
Reviewing the rooms, I found a room that worked with the themed lingerie. Bonus! Was it available. The rather annoyed blonde on the Anniversary Inn end of the phone call checked her records. (I don't know she was blonde, but she sure sounded blonde to me.) Brilliantly, it was available. Sweet. I've got a babysitter, I've got an Anniversary Inn room...I'm set!
Having thus changed my theme, I went to work theming the remainder of the night. I had selected the Treasure Island room at the Anniversary Inn, so I took a decidely "pirate" approach to planning the night.
I figured I could send messages to Maleen in an antique bottle as if she were receiving them from some marooned pirate. Awesome. Oh, they could be in real calligraphy on honest-to-goodness parchment paper—that would add to the mystique! Several other details just started falling into place.
Planning for the event, I picked up a bottle (man, ornate bottles are expensive!). I had planned to buy several—for each message. But it turns out that this pirate hadn't come into much treasure of late, so I made it on the cheap: one bottle, multiple messages. I remember saying out loud, "Well, you'll just have to be smooth and get the bottle back after every message she reads." More on this later...
As it turns out, parchment paper is also rather expensive, as is that blasted old-school quill pen. Someone tried to sell me a feather—yes a feather—for $25! I also underestimated how long it takes to actually hand write a note. I've been typing messages for years now, and I'm pretty sure I no longer possess the muscles necessary to write for more than a few paragraphs at a time.
I called a flower shop in Salt Lake to prepare the 13 roses. Turns out that a shop the "specializes in baptisms and funerals" gets a little uncomfortable when they have to write a card that says, "Arrrrrgh! This is the spot. Captain Raging Stallion." Apparently, this was a little risque for the attendant. I got the stuttery, "Ummm. Ok, aa, ah, ok, um...Yes, I think I've got that." I could tell immediately I had asked her to scribe something she wouldn't tell her own husband, let alone utter aloud to another human. Unfortunately for this poor soul, her computer wasn't working correctly, and she needed to call me back to get the information again. We had to go through the entire message again, and they must have a policy because she read it back to me. It seemed like a really bad line reading for a low-budget porn film. Even I felt uncomfortable after she read the message!
Nevertheless, she left the message as it was, and turned to other matters. I tried not to think of how my mother would interpret the note should she see it. Why would my mother be reading the note, you ask? Good question. She was not, in fact, invited to this part of the date, but since she'd be driving through Salt Lake on her way to our home, would she mind stopping to pick up the roses and deposit them at the Anniversary Inn? When I arrived to the Anniversary Inn with Maleen, I found that the note was not tucked away in one of those nice little floral envelopes. No, it was on display as the center piece of the floral arrangement. Yup, my mom totally would have read that. Oh, things I try not to remember.
In the interest of keeping everything a secret from my particularly nosy buxom wench, I elected to write all the notes and draw out the treasure map the night before. She couldn't find them if they didn't exist. Yeah, that little project started around 11:00 p.m. the night before my anniversary. It ended sometime after 3:00 a.m. The only reason that I don't know is that I actually stopped looking at the clock at 3:00 a.m. because i didn't want to know how late it had gotten. (It's a good thing there's a big reward on anniversary night, or I may have slept through my own date!)
I left the note on the table, and waited for Maleen to wake up.
Things started well, and just got better all day. Maleen got her note, and was still mystified. "Wait, who's coming to the house, and why?" No answers from this Captain. I met with Grandma in the afternoon as she arrived in Provo (having already covertly deposited the roses at the Anniversary Inn), and I handed her the bottle with the next note in in. I proceeded to the house, with Grandma in tow, and came in to find Maleen ready to depart—house spic and span—but still full of questions. Of course, I answered none of them.
As planned, Grandma strolled through the door and delivered the bottle that had "washed up." In Maleen's excitement to read the letter, she didn't notice when I picked up the bottle she'd placed on the shelf. I stashed it in the car. And then we were off to Laser Tag.
At Laser Tag, I had arranged to have one of the players exit the game early to deposit the bottle. It was a magic show to get the bottle delivered to him without Maleen seeing it—she was all lovey-dovey and cuddly and whatnot. When we exited the game, however, she found another message in a bottle awaiting her. That's the first time she asked how many of these bottles I had obtained. Score one for Cazier. While engrossed in her letter, I tried to confiscate the bottle, without success. This was bad, though, I had to get that bottle back!
We were off to dinner at Ruby River's, but even as we pulled into the parking lot, I didn't have the bottle. I had my play, though. When she exited the vehicle, she would leave the bottle—who carries a bottle in to dinner? As expected, she placed the bottle on the console and opened the door. I quickly grabbed it, and tried to conceal it under my jacket, but missed! Time was of the essence, so I positioned my torso between the bottle and her eyes, and we walked, hand-in-hand, through the parking lot toward the restaurant. When we reached the door I was at a loss. Bottle in one hand, lover's hand in the other. I couldn't open the door without exposing the bottle rouse.
What luck! Just as we approached the door, a man exited, leaving the door wide open. I just shoved a foot in front of the door and held it open for us both to pass inside. Once inside, Maleen made a trip to the restroom, and I had more than enough time to woo one of the hostesses into placing the bottle. She was overjoyed to have a role in this little romantic encounter. Right on queue, when they brought the drinks to the table, the tray came with two drinks and a message in a bottle! Perfect!
I could just barely see the smiley, waving brunette hostess walking out of view after the delivery. Whoever you are, thank you.
Maleen read the message, this time with a map. She again wondered aloud how many bottles I had obtained for this adventure. And after we'd returned to the vehicle I knew my ice was getting thin. She questioned where she'd left the other bottle from Laser Tag. Well, the jig was up, but I'd had a good run. I let her know that it was all the same bottle, and we had a good laugh about the bottle(s).
And that takes us to the Anniversary Inn. When we pulled in, Maleen still believed we'd be doing something in Salt Lake, then returning to Orem. Not so when she saw the sign. We had a wonderful time rocking the boat as it were, and officially rang in 13 years.
There's more to this story, of course, but I think I've told you enough.