Saturday, 6 July 2013

Happy Birthday To Me

There's this prank we always pull on camps in my youth ministry where we choose a person, and regardless of who it is, or what day it is, during a meal on camp; we will tell everyone it's their birthday and sing Happy Birthday to them. Then for the next few hours at least, everyone will be asking if it's really their birthday.

I was on a camp last week so I couldn't pass up the opportunity to pull that one on someone. Being a new ministry, these guys hadn't seen this before, so one breakfast, I got up in front of all the campers and told them it was the director's birthday, and started a round of Happy Birthday.

I only told a couple of people that it wasn't really his birthday, but the kitchen staff came up to one of my collaborators and asked if we would like them to bake our director a birthday cake. My collaborator told them it was just a prank, so the kitchen staff took it one step further.

By the time lunch rolled around, only four hours later, they had made a huge chocolate cake that would feed every camper and leader, and they went so far as to make a giant fifty out of chocolate freckles right on the top of the cake.

Here's the kicker: our director is twenty-nine.

I've seen this prank done what must be a hundred times before, but I have never seen it go so far as to have the campsite staff go along with it, bake a cake, and then nearly double the supposed age of the prankee!

So now the director was in so deep he couldn't bring himself to tell the kids it was just a prank, so he went along with it and let the kids all think he was fifty years old. I remember the kids on my table that lunchtime saying "Wow! He looks a lot younger than fifty!" and "I thought he was like, thirty-something!"

Two days later, without any warning, he got me back. Without telling me beforehand, he got up one lunch and told everyone it was my forty-second birthday. Now, in case you don't already know: I'm eighteen. I look about twenty-five according to the kids on camp, but not forty-two.

So in good spirit, I went along with it. To the point where I deliberately tried to convince kids I was that old. Being an actor, I created a back story and a history for myself. Kids started asking if I was married, and had kids etc.

I became really good at answering the tough questions the skeptical kids were trying to stump me with. I was apparently born on the fourth of July, 1971, I'd been married for six years to my wife, Ellen, and I have a four-year-old daughter called Lucy.

And just because one particularly clever camper asked why I didn't have a wedding ring on, it was because I'm a carpenter, and I don't wear the ring because it could potentially be dangerous.

It got to the point where I had to produce a photo of my "daughter" to really prove myself to one girl who was adamant I was not forty-two. So I went through my iPod and found a photo of myself, my friend, and another friend's daughter.

So by the end of the camp, I had convinced not just the campers, but a couple of the leaders too, that not only had I celebrated my forty-second birthday this week, but that I had a wife and daughter waiting for me back home.

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