It’s been a week full of surprises. This morning, for example, I woke up before Mike. Then I suggested we go for a walk, so we covered 4km before 8am with Mike uncharacteristically dragging himself along beside me instead of bouncing like Tiger at being outside on such a gorgeous morning. We came across a wallaby along the way. It was standing in the middle of the road listening to our approaching steps, and then it bounded off into the brush as soon as we rounded the corner. That’s about five surprises before 8am.
Last week in Tasmania we saw plenty of wallabies – on beaches, in parks, all over the place. We also surprised a wombat and it also headed straight for the brush, but as it was built like a big furry cask on tiny legs it didn’t bound, it waddled. There were a bunch of other surprises in Tasmania too. When we got to Coles Bay in Freycinet we found that half the town had burned down the night before (in a town that size the gas station, a convenience store, and a restaurant, is half the town). And after we toured the Cadbury Factory and ate every free sample we were offered, then ordered something that was advertised as “the world’s best hot chocolate” (which turned out to be more than half a glass full of chocolate shavings melted in hot mik), we felt sick. In retrospect, perhaps that shouldn’t have come as a surprise.
When we got to Ballina on Saturday, however, we received by far the biggest surprise of the week. My brother, Matt, and his wife, Lou, picked us up from the airport in the Gold Coast and when we got down here and walked into the house who should come down the stairs but my sister, Michelle, and my niece, Tahlia, who were supposed to be spending this Christmas in Washington DC! Michelle had managed to organize last minute tickets and flown home, surprising all of us (including my parents, whose 39th wedding anniversary it was that day). It was a total surprise-coup.
We talked about surprises that night around the dinner table. Did we like to give them? Did we like to be on the receiving end?
Matt, it turns out, likes to get surprises when he doesn’t know they’re coming, but if he knows a surprise is in the air but isn’t sure what might be heading his way he’s not much of a fan. Mum said she liked giving surprises, but not getting them. Mike liked to both give and receive surprises.
“I tend to plant the seeds now that a surprise is in the offing with you,” Mike said to me. “Because when I’ve completely surprised you in the past it hasn’t always gone over so well.”
“Like when you asked me to marry you after we’d spent a grand total of 20 days in the same country,” I said. “That surprise? Yeah. It turned out OK in the end though, didn’t it?”
The opinion was floated that people who like to give others surprises all the time have a high need to control others, and that people who don’t like getting surprises at all have a fairly high need for staying in control of themselves. What do you think? And do you like giving surprises, or getting them?