Happy 40th Jen!

It's one thing when you turn 40. It's a whole new thing when your friends do.

Jen remains, despite 6 years of co-habitation with The Varmint, my longest-running roommate. She and I have been friends since 1980 - that's 28 years - and 10 of those were spent living together.

I therefore feel qualified to make certain observations about Jen's, er, eccentricities, and must likewise accept hers of mine. (Note: Jen, there IS a comment section, below. You have license.) 

Picture 19Among her many eccentricities, including a pathological sense of territoriality, a tendency to orchestrate social interactions with the fervency of an insane stage mother and a penchant for pratfalls and practical jokes (especially those happening to other people), is that she snoops.

She's a super snooper. She's got her nose in everything, bat-like ears peeled for whispers, a keen sense of the appropriate tuned to a high 10 for erratic or unusual behavior, all heightened by an innate suspicion for anything "slightly off", "out of the ordinary" or "mildly dangerous." You can imagine the difficulty in trying to pull off a surprise party for such a person. 

DSC_1863So when her mom, Mary (that's her, right), approached Jen's husband Dusty, and Deb and me with the idea, we all immediately agreed there was NO WAY to pull it off without Miss Noseypants catching a whiff. Sure, we'd plant a few red herrings, but really. This was Jen we were talking about. You'd have better luck surprising Sherlock Holmes. You know, if he weren't fictional.

We did think we'd be able to pull off some surprises within the party itself: A couple of out-of-town guests. Mary popping the cork off the party, hiring a DJ, bartender AND caterer. Our working together to create a multi-media slideshow of Jenny's life - and a few embarrassing moments. And finally, the design and development of party t-shirts. We'd get her! Somehow! 

DSC_1793So, as the moment arrived and the partygirl approached the door - and 5 dozen people, kids, a booming speaker system and giant colored banner screaming "Lordy! Lordy! Jen is 40!" lay coiled and collectively ready to spring at the turn of the doorknob - we kept saying to one another: "She knows. She's got to know." 

Guess what? The surprise was on us: She didn't.

Here she walks in all chic and stylish, ready for a night on the town, and instead is hammered by a huge sonic wave of "SURPRISE!!!!!!" Kids are chucking leis around her neck and 50+ friends and family members are all clapping and laughing. The look on her face is priceless. But that's all we get: A moment. Within a nanosecond, she's recomposed herself and is busy working the room.

Jen Enters Cougar CountryThe people, the party itself? Of course we'd all be there! The official theme of the party was 1960s Hawaii, in celebration of the year of her birth, but we did have a sub-theme I liked to call "Welcome to Cougar Country."  I'd planned on wearing track shoes, in case she decided to chase me down the driveway after the cougar jokes began. But this didn't faze her in the slightest. I even saw her pose for several pictures, "Claws Up" and snarling.

She did pause at a couple of the slideshow pics (one of which was labeled "Jen Barfs") to shoot an appropriately withering glance my way. You'll note the cougar t-shirts - based on a circa 1983 image of Jen after a makeup class courtesy of The Barbizon School of Modeling - designed by The Varmint. Those definitely caught her attention, and even earned us a "Niiiiiiiice," but overall? 

DSC_1723You can't out-trick a trickster. She didn't need to sit down. Didn't require a drink to rev up. Hell, no. This is JEN we're talking about. The girl was born ready to socialize, and you can bet your sweet patootie she did.

She rocked out, guffawed, shook her booty, did the funky chicken and limbo, and stayed way WAY late, yakking and telling stories til deep in the night. I was home asleep and the girl was still partying, 40 or no.

So happy birthday, Jen! May you live long with flap-free skin, your boobs in your northern hemisphere and worry-free digestion.

God knows, you deserve it.



  1. Jenny said on May 26, 2008 12:44

    Thank you to all for a great party. I had such a good time and was totally surprised. I have the best friends ever. You all went way out of your way to make this special and it absolutely was.



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I am a writer and lazy artist who loves travel, architecture and design. Right now, I'm into photography. My fabulous husband (a.k.a. The Varmint) and I are also the principals of a San Diego-based creative agency - and new parents to the divine Baby Mak. Read More >