Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Dobble-U's Surprise

I have a good friend from Argentina whose name is Walter Ruggieri.

Have you ever met someone who can travel to a foreign country and after a few days is able to imitate the accent well enough to be mistaken for a native (or perhaps even a peculiar native with a slight speech impediment)? Well, Walter is not that kind of person. Even if he didn't speak, you'd have to suppress a compulsion to say to him, "You're not from 'round here, are ya son?" And it has always struck me as rather comical that when he leaves me a voice mail, it is usually prefaced by "Ay! My-kell! Thees ees Wahl-tare... from Arjaynteena", as if I my brow would furrow in confusion trying to distinguish which "Wahl-tare" this was -- as if the accent wasn't a dead giveaway already.

Walter (or Dobble-U, as I refer to him with Philia) is a gregarious fellow who is married to Melanie, and this weekend, he celebrated his 30th birthday.

30 is one of those birthdays that pass by with anonymity for most people. No black balloons or walkers for 30-year-olds. On the other hand, there are usually no big birthday bashes celebrating a rite-of-passage either. Most of us just quietly pass into the age that as teenagers seemed old but not yet decrepit.

Melanie, ever the good wife, decided that quiet transition was not suitable for her hubby. Quietly, secretly, she planned for a birthday party that he would never forget.

On the day of the big event, fifty or so of his friends occupied the private party room of Roma's Italian Restaurant in Richmond, Va. We watched a multimedia presentation followed by a short video of his parents wishing him a Happy Birthday from Argentina. It went kind of like this: "Blah, blah, blah, blah Wahl-tare blah, blah blah" (it was in Spanish.) Then his father who is an accomplished musician on the accordion (If there is such a thing, then this man is the Liberace of the accordion!) played "Happy Birthday" to Walter.

It was a touching scene, and Walter was visibly... touched.

Then, as if they stepped through a Stargate, Walter's parents stepped into the back of the room, with full accordion accompaniment, continuing the song that had just been playing on the video.

Walter was astonished.

How can they be here? Is this a joke? Are they holograms or impersonators or something?

Melanie had been planning for months. She obtained visas, coordinated passport updates, bought plane tickets, arranged for lodging... the WORKS! And his parents had been in town for two days, just waiting for their grand entrance! They'll make their stay worth the trip, since Walter's parents will be in town until June 26th.

It was an amazing scene that I was blessed to be a witness to.

Happy Birthday to you Wahl-tare (from Arjaynteena).

No comments: