As his twenty-ninth birthday approached, he began to get grumpy. "My carefree life is over. I don't want to be twenty-nine! That will mean I'm nearly thirty, and that seems so old!" As the day grew closer and he wasn't getting any happier about the idea of leaving age twenty-eight in the dust, I decided how I would cheer him up. A surprise party!
I created and mailed invitations to more than two-dozen friends, addressing the friends as though they were famous medical experts. I invited them to an important "Med-Alert Conference," the topic of which was Jay Glerum. Was there help for this man who was closing in on the end of his third decade? The subject believed he was doomed to "old age" without glory, I explained. Could the medical community gather together to give him an optimistic prognosis? I suggested that to enforce how important this conference was, they should arrive at the "conference" in their medical "uniforms" to accentuate its serious purpose. I received enthusiastic responses from more than twenty people.
|Jay in 1962, age 23, six years|
before the party
|Jay in 1973, age 34, five years |
after the party
Within minutes, two butchers arrived (wearing bloody aprons and white hats, carrying saws) and Jay began to get the picture.Then Doctor Scholl rang the doorbell, wearing a large foot as a headdress, followed a bearded man arrived in a nurse's dress (he'd taken the bus and caused a stir!). When a real nurse showed up just off work and still in her professional outfit, the nurse in drag and the real nurse fell into a fit of giggles. Soon two horse doctors arrived, then a quack (in a Donald Duck suit). You get the drift. As the diversely outfitted friends kept on arriving, Jay never stopped smiling. Everything about the party was a huge and hilarious hit.
Jay recalled that infamous birthday party with affection almost every birthday after that. It also served a useful purpose unknown at the time, but revealed over the next forty-five years. He never again told me he was depressed about an approaching birthday. He didn't dare!