It is a normal weekday afternoon, and I am working away at whatever it is I do during the working day, when the phone rings and I answer.
"This is Sylvia," the caller announces. "And I am coming to the party."
From the sound of her voice, Sylvia has at least two decades on me, more likely three; and we share similar New York roots.
"I'm sorry," I answer, "but I think you have the wrong number."
"No," she answers, "I don't! You're the party maker; and I'm coming to the party. The party Mr. Hayden's making."
"Really," I protest, "I don't know Mr. Hayden. I'm quite sure you have the wrong number."
"Oh, no!" she gasps. "Maybe it was supposed to be a surprise."
"I couldn't tell you," I answer. "I hope you have a wonderful party; but all I know is that it's not going to be here."
"Anyway," says Sylvia. "I am wondering if you have any advice."
"I wonder if you think we should make it a costume party? I think people like a costume party."
"I'm sure that's a great idea," I say. "But I am very, very certain you have the wrong number, and I think I need to go now."
"But you didn't even ask me how old she's going to be," Sylvia complains.
"OK. How old is she going to be?
"NINETY!" Sylvia declares triumphantly. "She's going to be 90 years old!"
I give Sylvia my best wishes for a joyful birthday celebration, and hang up before she can ask anything else.
It's been more than 24 hours since I answered Sylvia's misdirected phone call; and I've been in a good mood ever since. Perhaps it's the afterglow of a good laugh. Or maybe it's the reminder that any random encounter can lead to something celebratory and life-affirming.
So to Sylvia: thank you for making my day! To Mrs. Hayden: I wish you a very, very happy 90th birthday, and as many happy returns as you can manage.
And to the rest of you: yes, costumes, definitely. And please arrive before 6:45 if you don't want to spoil the surprise.