My wife’s birthday was last week. She normally goes away on a Girls’ Weekend with her best friend, whose birthday is only two days removed from hers. They celebrate together for a few days then return home to their families. This year her friend had to cancel their trip, and while she was bummed about that she was also looking forward to spending her birthday weekend with her boys (a.k.a. me and our son).

Except that’s not what happened.

What actually happened was that I managed to pull off an epic birthday surprise for my wife and her best friend, and I’m bragging about it because I am both historically and notoriously god-awful at surprises.

I may also be exaggerating my level of involvement. This wasn’t even my idea. It was my wife’s best friend, who managed to squeeze a single day free in an otherwise busy weekend. She approached me with the idea of surprising my wife with a visit. I agreed, and all I had to do was keep my mouth shut for a few weeks. I will not exaggerate how difficult that was for me to do.

It’s not that I’m a gossip or delight in leaking secrets. It’s that I’m notoriously scatterbrained and slip up when I’m supposed to be keeping a secret. I am also the World’s Worst Liar, which is something I’m actually rather proud of, given my hatred of dishonesty. Those two factors combined make for a recipe for disaster when it comes to surprises. I swear, I do not know how I managed to keep my mouth shut for as long as I did.

The day of the surprise I was a nervous wreck. All it would have taken for my wife to suspect something was up was for me to have a crack in my demeanor and for her to ask, “Is something wrong?” because I would have come up with the lamest lie in history. Miraculously, I managed to maintain a mask of cool as the clock ticked ever closer to the moment of surprise. When her parents dropped by for a visit I was given some cover, as well as several excuses to keep her in the house.

There were some slight stumbles in the moments before the Big Reveal, like my in-laws inadvertently forcing my wife’s friend to park too close to the house and my wife seeing a strange car pull into our driveway. She guessed what was happening as I ran out to meet the car, but the moment was no less emotional and unexpected for her. As my wife shrieked in delighted surprise and hugged her best friend with tears in her eyes, I felt not only great relief but soaring pride. I, the World’s Worst Liar, managed to keep a secret.

I don’t want to do something like that again, though. Lying, even just keeping a secret, is stressful to me and I constantly worry that I’m going to slip up and ruin something special. Plus I’m proud of my reputation for honesty even to a fault, because my friends and family know that my default state is telling the truth. That’s a level of trust I don’t take lightly, nor wish to betray.

Still, it was nice to do that for her. She deserved a nice surprise for her birthday, even if it meant mildly lying to her for a few weeks.