(The following is the write-up I sent out after the event. The originals were printed on the same musical-bordered paper I'd created for the Program, but that doesn't work well on a web page.)

Unscathed by neither rain nor sleet nor gloom of night, carefully hand-calligraphed invitations found their ways to post office boxes, homes, rural routes, etc. around the world, heralding the news: Come one, come all (i.e., a privileged few) to a grand Mystery Soiree. The scene was set and curiosity was aroused on three continents. Just what was going on?

Nearly everyone had a theory, rather a guess at what the holiday night would hold. Surely festive, easily unorthodox, and destined to be unforgettably Donna. Clues were dropped, hints were made, and the suspense mounted. Was it going to be an engagement announcement? Did she get her book published or her invention patented? Had she been on television? And of course, leading the poll was the old standby: would it be a Fubsy spectacular? What did cryptic coded notes mean (e.g. p.u.c. at A at 3)? Why wouldn't she divulge her planned attire? Just what was going on?

At long last, whispers could cease and confused stares were soon to be seen no more, for the grand day had finally come. The craftsperson of this suspense managed to escape her parents' home early in the afternoon to begin work on the final preparations.

The room was readied, the stage was hidden by closed curtains, and the mistress of ceremonies practiced up to the last possible moment, taking time out only to change clothes and remedy a potentially revealing situation: a trip to the bathroom had shed light on an entry-way library marquee that foretold of a "piano recital"! Gasp! (The troops were soon warned by telephone and grapevine to use another entrance, presumably to be easier for them, ha ha.)

Then, da da da dum! The hour of reckoning befell. The audience, tastefully clad in cocktail dress, shuffled in and quietly sat (as per instructions on the blackboard's 'welcome message), awaiting the star's entrance. Her dad carried a beautiful arrangement of pine boughs and colorful carnations that had been sent by a dear friend Nickie and her husband who would not be able to attend. Just what was going on?

Then, all of a sudden, like a bolt of lightning ... well, no, er... rather, finally appearing from behind one side of the stage, there she came, gracefully gliding to the center ring, with astonished eyes glued to her every movement. It was clearly obvious now that it was a solo endeavor and certainly not a Fubsy affair, for the radiant hostess was fashionably robed in a long pleated gown of Liberacian silver glitter material, accented by a plunging neckline and seductive center slit. Near her heart she wore a striking fresh corsage of white sweetheart roses and carnations, a gift to herself. Atop her head, however, reputedly to lessen the seriousness of the occasion, bounced two sparkling silver-glitter stars on 6" springs. But the audience stopped gawking at this magnificent spectacle long enough to notice the book she carried. "Aha," said Beth Ann to her mother, "I told you she got it published!"

Things were going precisely according to plan and after letting Beth Ann bask in her supposedly successful assessment for a moment, the silver star goddess guffawed, "So, it looks like someone guessed what this is all about, huh? But since I'd planned a speech, how about indulging me and letting me go through with it?"

The guests of course begged her on so she began to recite, "You're all probably wondering why you're here. Well, as some of you know, a long, long time age, I wrote a book. I got to thinking about it and I thought what better place to announce its publication than in a library around people who are special to me? However, while that's all true enough, that's not really why you're here! (No, the book has not been published yet.)" And she tossed aside the book prop and chuckled as the spectators shrugged their shoulders. Just what was going on?

The damsel of drama continued, "Actually, a long, long time ago I wanted to surprise a friend who'd gone away to music camp for the summer, so I got some music, figured out each note in each chord in each measure and practiced for days on a homemade, paper keyboard. I finally graduated to a real piano at the house of my friend's mother and by the end of the summer I was playing the standard piano solo version of Exodus. Susan (Cheney) returned from camp and our mothers and I arranged a put-on self-hypnosis act where I ended up playing my favorite song to a very flabbergasted trio. And I played Exodus everywhere I went for years to follow. When people would remark that they didn't know I played the piano, I'd tell them that I really didn't and that that was the only song I knew, but no one ever believed me. But then almost ten years later, this summer at Jeff's wedding, Dad asked me to play it and I couldn't even remember a note. So, I went out and relearned that piano solo and I'd like to play it for you now."

At that point, the curtains were drawn to reveal on stage, a majestic, black, grand piano. Musical ignorance abounded, though, and no one figured out that the piano top folded back, then propped up (so it was propped up without folding part back)! But the concert mood was set and the piano solo poured forth, without the aid of sheet music, and it sounded triumphant enough to make Ernest Gold, Leon Uris, and Pat Boone proud. What's more, it stunned the audience!

And as that lady rose to take her bows, she grinned mischievously at the crowd and added, "Well, while all that's true enough, that's not really why you're here either!" Now everyone was wondering just what was going on?

"You see," she solemnly said, "a long, long time ago, when I was really young, I had the opportunity to take piano lessons and all I did was take them for granted. As I grew older, I also grew to love piano music more and more and I regretted my youthful neglect. And then this summer two things happened: (1) When I was in California I had the privilege of listening to my very talented friend Meredith play her piano and perform for me her own creations. I sat in awe and near tears and could have listened for hours more; (2) Then at Jeff's wedding I heard his new brother-in-law, R.J., play the piano, something he'd struggled with a lot on his own and I was incredibly moved by his dedication.

"So I went back to the East Coast and began an extensive search for a used piano, fell in love with and bought a mahogany spinet, and set out to teach myself to play. As much as anything, I was suffering from very poor self-esteem at the time and I desperately needed to do something to prove to myself that I could be productive, that I could accomplish something if I wanted to. And all the negative comments and pessimistic "You'll never do it"s from co-workers only served to fuel my fire.

"Best of all, it worked! I set out to do something big and I did it and it's the best thing I've ever done for myself. So now I'd like to play some of my favorite pieces for you, some songs that mean a lot to me in a lot of ways. And remember, I learned these the right way, not the rote memorization, old Exodus way. So welcome to my piano debut. My performance is entitled 'Significa and Miscellany.'"

The specially designed programs she handcrafted (note that the invitation border matches the program border which turns into music from the Military Polonaise) were handed out and the evening's selections were briefly introduced. A quote from the movie "You Light Up My Life" ("sometimes when you reach for a dream you have to leave something behind") was offered with the explanation that this particular performer had to leave behind her long fingernails (which meant a lot to her) to be able to reach for this dream. And in a tearjerking scene, she also recited a major line from the movie "Mahogany" ("success is nothing without someone you love to share it with") and explained "that's why you were all invited to be here tonight ... for me to be able to share a little success with some people I love a lot."

The guests were deeply touched, but no one was quite convinced that this was all serious. After all, it was just too unbelievable. Not only teaching herself the piano, and just since August, but learning all the songs on the program? Naw. Impossible.

But "impossible" soon got lost in the sea of "I can't believe it"s and the concert mistress tickled those ivories to the delight of everyone. Never before had she played so well, so confidently, so maturely. Everything--the days of suspense, the elegant and formal atmosphere, the extremely personal achievement--everything came together so beautifully. It all climaxed dramatically in the final presentation (the order had been altered slightly): Beethoven's Für Elise. No note was missed, no count overlooked. The piece was played nearly flawlessly and it yielded several vigorous rounds of applause and a much-appreciated standing ovation.

But being a star is hard work, so the party concluded with a champagne reception, complete with a cake decorated with the title 'Significa and Miscellany' and a woman playing a grand piano, as well as Christmas napkins showing music of well-known Christmas carols.

The entire event was as spectacular as it was entertaining, and it was without a doubt, the best Mystery Soiree I've ever seen!

P.S. You'll notice the piano top was finally folded back properly for the last photograph!