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Monday, February 18, 2008


I realize we are right in the middle of ZOMBIE IDOL and that it’s time to open the Zombay des Refusés.

But first I wanted to tell a little personal story and give you a little glimpse into the Joys of Knowing Me.

Never in my life have I gotten so many birthday well-wishes as I did yesterday. Thank you all! As it turned out . . . my birthday turned out to be quite interesting.

About three weeks ago, my friend Winchester Grey sent me a note. Winchester Grey is one of these sly “take over the world” types, a general genius who whistled through a math degree at Oxford, went on to get an acting degree from one of the top drama schools in England, develops games, studies multiple foreign languages for fun, and was employed as a computer wizard for Several Extremely Large Corporations . . . before he was swept up by the juggernaut that is Google . . . where he, to the best of my knowledge, runs the internet. Winchester is one of those people who . . . if you wanted to understand the basic physics of the Millennium Falcon, could not only tell you . . . but could probably build you a small operational model COMPLETE WITH A TINY HAN SOLO INSIDE.

Winchester at home.

About three weeks ago, Winchester sent me a note that said: “Hey! Google is having a super-secret black tie affair to launch a new product. Cannot give details but will be massive. It’s on February 16th. Please say you will come with me. Also, TELL NO ONE. VERY SECRET. WILL BE MAJOR MEDIA COVERAGE THE NEXT DAY.”

I was sitting next to Scott Westerfeld when I got this note, and I immediately turned my computer toward him and said, “LOOK! SEKRITS! TELL NO ONE!” Because when you find out a tantalizing bit of information like that, you MUST tell someone. Scott is pretty much the most trustworthy person you could want, and entrusting the sekrit to him would be much safer than, say, locking it inside of Dick Cheney’s man-sized safe.

Later that night, Justine Larbalestier (who is married to Scott, in case you didn’t know) caught me on IM. The conversation went something like this:


So I thought, “Cool! It’s sekrit day!”

Me: Tell!

Justine: I won’t tell you until you tell me your sekrit.

Me: I have no sekrit. *

Because I was SURE Scott hadn’t told her.

Justine: YOU DO! TELL ME!

Me: No, you are mistaken.

Justine: You told me before you had one.

Had I? Did I? I didn't think I had . . .

Me: No I didn't.

Justine: YOU DID!

Well, clearly she knew something. Maybe Scott had told her? Or maybe he'd told her just enough to get her hooked.

No I really, really don't . . .

Justine: You lie. You are a liar. A lying liar. I know you have one. And I have one. And I am not going to tell you mine until you tell me yours and mine is SO GOOD.


Telling Justine a secret is not quite as safe as telling Scott a secret. This is not because Justine is a not a good secret-keeper per se, but more because she is more likely to forget about the part of the secret in which you explained that the secret was a secret.

But I told her anyway, and she said, “HA! I didn’t know anything about a sekrit! Scott told me nothing! I TRICKED YOU! I am the winner of ALL THINGS!”

So, in about four hours, I had managed to tell TWO people Winchester’s big sekrit. And that promptly went up to three, because I then told Oscar Gingersnort, owner of the London Office.

I wrote back to Winchester, saying, “I would love to, but alas. That is my birthday, and Oscar Gingersnort, your fellow countryman, is coming over to help me celebrate.” Because he was. That was the extent of my birthday planning. After that, my only idea was to watch Law and Order and eat frosting out of the container with a spoon.

And Winchester said, “Oh, that is really too bad, but I will see what I can do.”

I didn’t hear anything else about it for a week, so I went about my business with the planning of Law and Order/frosting/spoon scenario . . . when Winchester sent me a forwarded note from his friend at work, saying that his girlfriend was unable to attend the event, so there was one more pass. We could go!

Every few days, Winchester would dazzle me with some little detail about the Google party. He could never say what it was for, or where it was . . . we would just get a hint of its majesty. The only info we were allowed to have was that tuxedos were appropriate (for the guys), I had to be at his house at 5:15, and that Google was sending a car service. The rest was totally shrouded in mystery.

Oscar and I speculated a LOT on the nature of the Google announcement. By the time we showed up at his house yesterday, we were fit to burst. But Winchester was all, “There is a reason we have embargos . . . I can say nothing . . . but all will be known at 6 PM, then I will be free to talk.”

We got into the car, and even the driver was very hush-hush. As I went, Justine sent me a “happy birthday” text. I knew that she and Scott were in all weekend because Scott was violently ill.

We ended up in downtown Manhattan, and the car finally came to a stop in front of a restaurant that I knew from Scott and Justine as being one of the best in New York and one of their absolutely favorites. It’s called WD-50. They keep a menu from WD-50 on their refrigerator as a sign of their affection for it.

The restaurant was quite small and looked kind of empty, but Winchester said that Google had taken the downstairs. We just had to wait for his friend from work to show up so that we could get the other invite and go inside. I was busily reading the menu and getting myself worked up into seventeen shades of frenzy.

“Let’s walk around the block to keep warm,” Winchester said. Which was a good idea, because it was bitter cold. Being the good friend that I am, I was living for the moment when we got inside and I could text Justine back and say, “Not ONLY am I going to the super-cool Google event tonight, it’s at WD-50! Burn! Enjoy the broth and crackers!”

Finally, Winchester’s friend sent a message, and we hurried over and opened the door.

And there were Scott and Justine. All dressed up. Scott, like the other guys, was in a tux.

And at first, my brain said, “Oh, Winchester invited them too!”

And then, two seconds later, my brain said, “There is no Google party, Maureen. There IS NO GOOGLE PARTY.”

And then they all started to laugh. And laugh. And laugh.

Once at the table, I began to unravel the scheme . . . all of the cunning that had gone into making me think there was a Google party. They revealed that they had all been exchanging e-mails for WEEKS, enjoying my dim-witted responses and my eager anticipation of “the big new Google product.” Even the fact that Scott was sitting next to me when I got the note, the needling over IM . . . it was all part of the general gaslighting of me. They had tracked EXACTLY how long it took me to tell someone the sekrit. It was something like two minutes.

We had one of the most amazing dinners I have ever had . . . a tasting menu that went on for hours, with delicious wine and champagne. And I was with Scott, Justine, Winchester, and Oscar . . . so I was having the best time a person could ever want to have. I even have some pictures of the experience.

Scott and Justine, smugly going over the details of their trickery.

Not frosting from a jar, but almost as good.

So, thank you EVERYONE. Thanks to Scott and Justine and Winchester and Oscar . . . and to all of YOU for writing in! You guys all made it the best birthday on record!

Now . . . we return to ZOMBIE IDOL. Starting tomorrow, I will be posting some unseen highlights of last week’s zombie collection! Every day, right up until the deadline, there will be new zombies!

And keep getting those entries in! YOU STILL HAVE UNTIL THURSDAY!

(Also, Scott and Justine? And Winchester? Watch your back. Because my memory is long and my patience unflagging.)

* There is one completely inevitable comment on this post that SOMEONE is going to feel compelled to make. In the interests of providing a complete blogging service, I have gone ahead and written the comment so that this person (or these persons) can simply copy and paste. You’re welcome!


mj, don’t u know how to spell secret? You kept spelling it sekrit. How can you be a riter and not know how to spel secret? u are dumb. I cant beleve anyone would publish u if u don’t know that everyone knows that.

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Blogger stormywriting said...

mj, don’t u know how to spell secret? You kept spelling it sekrit. How can you be a riter and not know how to spel secret? u are dumb. I cant beleve anyone would publish u if u don’t know that everyone knows that.

7:33 AM  
Blogger stormywriting said...

sorry, couldn't resist.

7:34 AM  
Anonymous danielle said...

WD-50?! I want to go there so bad. They look like they have some CRAZY food. They picked one awesome restaurant to go to. Too bad I can't go, since it's on the other side of the country and whatnot.

And, merry belated birthday. Glad you had an awesome one, even though it was full of sekrits and trickery.

7:39 AM  
Anonymous Allie said...

mj, don’t u know how to spell secret? You kept spelling it sekrit. How can you be a riter and not know how to spel secret? u are dumb. I cant beleve anyone would publish u if u don’t know that everyone knows that.


7:54 AM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

happy day after your birthday! see, i am ultimate procrastinator. i even procrastinate on my birthday wishes! hahahahaha! :P

that sounds like an awesome birthday. you totally had me fooled. i was trying to remember if i'd heard anything about a google sekrit that had been announced yesterday. hehe! :D

8:32 AM  
Anonymous Topaz said...

"mj, don’t u know how to spell secret? You kept spelling it sekrit. How can you be a riter and not know how to spel secret? u are dumb. I cant beleve anyone would publish u if u don’t know that everyone knows that."


Awesome birthday! My friends "kidnapped" me for my last one. Like, they blindfolded me and everything. It's pretty awesome, those birthday surprises.

9:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What fun! You must feel so loved to have friends who would go to so much work to surprise you on your birthday.

As for the "sekrit" comment, I have a friend who is a teacher. He was responding to a test prep question, and mentioned something about "texting" in the email. A student standing behind him said, "Duh. There's no e in texting." Yup. She showed him, all right. Bam!

10:06 AM  
Anonymous Sadie said...

Wow, that is one awesome birthday surprise! I read your blog all the time and I had no idea that the 16th was your birthday. Here's the funny thing the 16th was also my birthday! We are birthday buddies! Did you know we also share a birthday with LeVar Burton, John McEnroe and Ice-T?

12:19 PM  
Blogger Hannah Rose said...

Hahah...You're as niave as I am! I always fall for stuff like that. Example: My fourteenth birthday sucked. REALLY sucked. Mostly because I was partially bald, thanks to my neursurgeon. And recovering and all that crap. So nothing really HAPPENED on my actual birthday, and I was so depressed that my mum came out and TOLD me that they were throwing me a surprise party soon.

So a few days later my sister takes me over to her apartment, and I'm still depressed, and we go swimming and then she keeps trying to put makeup on me. I'm like, "nooo! It's not like anyone's going to see me!"

Needless to say, when she brought me home there was twenty-odd teeenagers in my backroom screaming at me and I didn't have my face on! :O

Sad thing was that they scared the Holy Hell out of me. You really would think I would have caught on.

So I'm glad you had a good birthday, that makes me happy. And jealous. But mostly happy.


6:09 PM  
Blogger Miss Hannah said...

your friends tricked me, too. with every paragraph my nosiness burned more and more to know the google sekrit. i was about two lines away from googling the goole sekrit (would googling google rip a hole in the space-time continuum?) when i realized, "it was a surprise party for mj's birthing day!" what awesome friends you have. and what an awesome birthday they made for you. how nice of them. glad it was good.

6:27 PM  
Blogger Emmaco said...

Me, too, miss hannah! I was about to google for any mention of a launch party...glad I read through to the end first :)

8:00 PM  
Blogger ari :o) said...

mj, of course u know how to spell secret! but You spelled it sekrit anyway. how can there be riters that not know how to misspel secrit? u are awesomely amazing. I cant beleve anyone would consider not publishing u and if u don’t know that everyone knows that u r dumb.
(does that make sence? no it does not. sorry, i tried)

8:26 PM  
Anonymous Allie said...

me again, and i want to say i totally believed it and was trying to figure out what the google people would come up with now!
happy late late late b-day

10:25 PM  
Blogger o evil ears said...

yah ha i would have fel for it
me is shaylaluna but have new lady ear name
just to clarify

11:11 PM  
Blogger marrije said...

oh, that is just such an absolutely wonderful surprise! I like the part about Scott & Justine making up an illness for Scott the best, I think. Nah. All of it. You're so lucky with friends like that. Ans also happy belated birthday! I just finished 'Devilish' yesterday, and if I had known it was your birthday I would have written you a gushing fan note, since I loved the book.

11:46 PM  
Blogger Sarah Beth Durst said...

What a fabulous surprise!

Happy (kind of belated) birthday, Maureen!

Best wishes,

12:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

*extremely off-key voice*

happy (belated) birthday MJ!!! Happy (belated) birthday to you!!!!!

well, now that that's out of my system, um, i guess i'll try and go back to normal now.


1:04 AM  
Blogger Caroline said...

Wow. As a master of plots, trickery, and deceit, I must commend your friends for such an excellent birthday plan.
But, btw,

mj, don’t u know how to spell secret? You kept spelling it sekrit. How can you be a riter and not know how to spel secret? u are dumb. I cant beleve anyone would publish u if u don’t know that everyone knows that.

2:18 AM  
Anonymous KrazyKatie said...

personally I think sekrits are better than secrets. More special don't you think? Anyway, I was really hoping for details on the google party, but I must admit that the surprise twist birthday ending was way cooler. Congrats to Scott and justine.
And happy birthday MJ!!! Much Love goes out to you!!!!
<3 Katie

3:13 AM  
Anonymous Meli said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY! (your birthday is 6 days after mine.....)


u are one very lucky ducky.
every single year i get sick on my birthday. it's very very weird. i think there is a mysterious birthday fairy who likes to make me even more paranoid about getting older.....

and what is with sekrit? that's the kind of thing i would do to make sure that my grammatically correct family wouldn't understand what i was saying...

4:18 AM  
Anonymous Danica said...

Aww, mj, you have the best friends ever.

On my birthday a couple weeks ago my friends kidnapped me (No. Seriously. KIDNAPPED ME.) after school and took me to a surprise party at Dairy Queen. Not as fancy, but there was an ice cream cake with Pikachu on it.

The only bad thing was that my friend blindfolded me BEFORE shoving me in the car. So I ended up banging my head and biting my lip and laughing/crying/swearing the whole way there. I thought they were taking me to get a tattoo or something...

4:32 AM  
Blogger Little Willow said...

The members of the Law & Order: Birthday Frosting Department send you their fondest wishes. And their best cupcakes. And this article, in which you are a cat.

7:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

glad you had a wicked birthday party...

they sured fooled you!
(and you fooled me as I was reading your post)

he he ; )

7:36 AM  
Blogger Heather♥ said...

mj, don’t u know how to spell secret? You kept spelling it sekrit. How can you be a riter and not know how to spel secret? u are dumb. I cant beleve anyone would publish u if u don’t know that everyone knows that.

haha. I love sekrit.org
it is now the cooles site EVER. and I'm mean it. it's like the best website ever created.

I want people to perform evil trickery upon me for my birthday and tell me they have some sort of secret sekrit. they must!

7:39 AM  
Blogger Ian said...

danica - i got kidnapped a few times on my birthday. my friends were always tying me up and throwing me in the trunk, or charging across the lawn with squirt guns. i caught on after a couple of years and started trying to evade them - not too hard, because it was always an awesome party, but i wanted to make it a challenge for them.

mj - that was awesome! happy birthday!

7:42 PM  
Blogger Reese said...

I have but one thing to say: Scott isn't really that great a sekrit keeping. Think about it. When Justine didn't want the title of her book out.. it was leaked! By her, admittedly, but on Scott's blog. And when they were looking for pics of themselves together, Justine was all, can't tell you what its for. Sorry. And Scott was all, its for the immigration people. You see what I mean?

Anyway, happy birthday! (belated, yeah, yeah)

Maybe secret is really spelled sekrit. THE ENTIRE REST OF THE WORLD IS WRONG!!!!!

That was more than one thing, oh well.

6:27 AM  
Anonymous JK said...

mj, don’t u know how to spell secret? You kept spelling it sekrit. How can you be a riter and not know how to spel secret? u are dumb. I cant beleve anyone would publish u if u don’t know that everyone knows that.

^ hahaha this is hilarious someone getting mad because you suposedly spelt secret wrong, and they spelt everything completely wrong. u? hahahaha
sorry funny

6:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

mj, don’t u know how to spell secret? You kept spelling it sekrit. How can you be a riter and not know how to spel secret? u are dumb. I cant beleve anyone would publish u if u don’t know that everyone knows that.

9:44 AM  

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