Last week I received a Top Secret email. Oo. Curious.
Unbeknownst to me, my teacher at the Kabbalah Centre was an avid cyclist, spending hours on Sundays out on his bike, notching up the kilometres. Until he had his bike stolen.
Let's just say that he was absolutely gutted, but being the guy that he is, didn't moan about it to a single person.
Of course, nothing stays secret for long in the One Percent, and one of his students heard of his plight and wanted to help out, hence the Top Secret email.
The plan was to ask around his students as quietly as possible, get the funds for a new bike and give it to him as an early birthday present.
Oo I just LOVE secrets! Not even the Chevre at the centre knew about it. It was secret, secret, double secret!!I In fact, it was so secret, that I started to panic about being struck with Secret Tourettes whenever I was around the centre, fearing that suddenly I would shout his name and "BICYCLE! SECRET EARLY BIRTHDAY SURPRISE!!!!!" at the top of my voice in the middle of shabbat. It was one of those secrets that I was so excited about that if I'd have grinned any more, the top of my head would have fallen off.
I was also sorely tempted to start talking about how much I liked cycling whilst he was within earshot ("Isn't it just the best way to get around? Wind in your hair, whipping through the traffic...."), or to tell him I had just bought a bike and wondered what was the best bike insurance...
Within the space of a week, the funds had been gathered, which gives you an idea of the admiration that his students have for him, and messages were written in a card.
The next part of the plan was to actually present the card to him, with minimal fuss. The guy who arranged the collection said that the best time would be 9:30 am Sunday (today) after morning minyan. And it would be great if we could be there.
So the trick was, how to show up at the centre at the end of a men's connection, and be there for the presentation, without arousing any suspicion. Hmm, tricky. I had never been to the centre on a Sunday and had no reason to just drop in. A thousand What If's raced through my overactive mind. What if I totally blow the surprise? being one of them. I cannot lie for toffee. Plus, I was still grinning like the Cheshire Cat.
I agreed to meet a friend outside of the centre at 9:30am, in the knowledge that in Kabbalah Time (where all events start at least half an hour later if not more), the presentation would take place no earlier than 9:45. And if I showed up with my friend, then I knew that she would find a reason to be hanging around in the bookstore for no apparent reason whatsoever.
She was late. Not only that, but by the time I arrived, I could already see the men leaving the centre. So now what do I do? I rang my friend. "Go in!" she urged "I'll be there in two minutes! They might be doing the presentation now! Go in!"
The door was locked, but another of my teacher's students - also hanging around in the bookstore for no apparent reason whatsoever - opened the door and let me in. It appeared that prayers were still going on. Or at least, something was still going on.
My friend arrived seconds later and we hovered excitedly in the bookstore, waiting to be called, not wanting to be seen.
So it was a slight surprise to us when our teacher walked through the bookstore on his way out, wheeling a bike.
I could literally feel all of us silently screaming "WTF?!!" whilst straining to look totally normal.
"Hello ladies" he said, looking slightly bemused "Why are you here? Are you flyering?"
"Err. Yes.. Yes.. No.. Zohar Project" we all gabbled, nodding frantically at each other for support. Well, that was natural. Not.
"Ah, okay. So do you need me for anything?" he asked.
"No, no! we're fine!" we all chimed together.
He said goodbye and left, leaving us partway between hysterics and total confusion. What? So did he have the presentation or not? Had he received the card? What was with the bike? Was that his bike? What was going on? The guy who had invited us to the presentation was nowhere in sight.
One of the other teachers appeared. Did he know what had gone on? We tiptoed around the subject and found that he had overheard little bits of conversation and had an idea what was going on. And before we could stop him, he said "I'll call him, hang on" and then in horror heard him say "Hi. Yes, did you know you have your students here to give you an early birthday surprise? Yes, they are here now! Waiting for you". Noooo! Noo Noo Noo!!!! We waved our arms frantically, but it was too late.
Oh blimey, were we going to blow all of this and ruin this Top Top Secret Surprise?
Well, apparently not. The presentation had been given at 9:25 just before we had all arrived. And the surprise was so great that he was simply in shock. I don't even think he had registered the names on the card and put two and two together when he saw us. And the bike? An old one that he had borrowed.
So. Mission Accomplished. Secret maintained, teacher blown away by surprise gift, Kabbalah Time wins again.
I think it might take a while to recover from the sight of him walking through the bookstore pushing a bike.