Surprises and birthdays have probably gone together since the concept of surprising one's unsuspecting friends was first invented (we like to picture the first successful surprise party happening in a cave, and the recipient being equal parts delighted and miffed).
But what of only a few centuries ago?
Elizabethan people took great delight in merriments of all stripes, so we can only imagine that William Shakespeare's numerous theater pals treated the Bard to a birthday surprise or two in his time.
Did the legend yell "zounds!" upon entering his party? Probably, right?
Balloons and streamers will likely not be hung for the writer's 450th birthday, but the most excellent occasion will be marked by fans during the California International Antiquarian Book Fair, which gets the pages turning, very, very carefully from Feb. 7 through 9.
A talk on what Shakespeare ate is one of the weekend's highlights, but bet there will be other lit-lovely doings for the man who launched a thousand "Romeo and Juliet" spin-offs, interpretations, and parodies. Oh, we do make mirth, but like Shakespeare didn't? Every writer can learn much from his signature twinkle.
You can probably guess from the fair's name and aim -- to honor precious and rare tomes -- that this is a white-glove, handle-carefully affair. But if you're looking for Austen treasures and first editions from beloved scribes and wonders thought lost to time, get thee to the Pasadena Convention Center over that weekend. The exhibitors are plentiful and knowledgeable and you just may leave with that book of poems you've long been searching for.
It's true that we may live in the Era of Screens, but rare pages still rule hearts. As does Shakespeare. We do hope the Globe Theater was done up in balloons and streamers back in his day, in his honor, on occasion, or whatever the equivalent of balloons and streamers might have been back around ye olde 1600.
Maypoles? Fancy ruffs? Puddings? Flowers? Bright tights? Drippy candles? That sounds like a party to us.