My Daughter’s Ultimate Hamilton Birthday Surprise

This post is dedicated to my sweet Bella.

I rarely, if ever, post about my family on this blog. On here I’m the “Scary Horror Writer.” This is a much different persona than at home where I’m simply known as “Dad.” Those two don’t normally mix in my world, unless we’re talking about 1987’s The Stepfather where Terry O’Quinn is freakin’ awesome! But I digress…

I do this because it’s easier and healthier to keep the two worlds separate, but also because if people found out I’m actually a super-softy-pants dad I’d lose some of my street cred as the aforementioned “Scary Horror Writer.” You’ll start asking me which Air Bud movie is my favorite instead of which I find more disturbing, Martyrs or A Serbian Film (answer: Martyrs.) But this is one time that I have to break that rule and share something publically because it’s just too amazing not to spread this joy.

I’m warning you right now.

I don’t care how hardened you are.

What you’re about to witness is super duper sweet. Like ridiculously sweet.

Yes, this Scary Horror Writer is going to share something super-softy-pants with you. I’ll tryyyyy to be succinct, but those of you who know me know full well this can be a challenge.

First, a little backstory…

To put it plainly, my daughter Isabella is obsessed with musical theater. She has been for years. She stars in them, watches them, reads them, you name it. She only listens to musical soundtracks, and is usually found singing these songs on the top of her lungs in the shower. In fact, even as I type this, she’s auditioning at a local theater for their upcoming Beauty and the Beast musical (not kidding.) But there is one musical that she has been more obsessed with than anything else in her entire life.


I know what you’re thinking, yeah, yeah, everyone is obsessed with that show. That’s why it’s easier to take a selfie with a Minotaur than it is to get tickets. That’s why they basically had to invent new Tony Award because it won every other Tony that exists. This is not unique. Well, in the case of Bella, it is unique. For the past few years, she and her awesome theater friends have worshipped this show. For years, Bella has lived and breathed everything Hamilton. She has read every book ever put out about the show (including Ron Chernow’s massive Hamilton biography). She’s watched the PBS documentary 50 times. Most impressively she can sing/rap EVERY. SINGLE. SONG. I’m not kidding. If you ask her to do it, she will on cue. And it will blow your mind. It sounds like Eminem on speed. Only it was coming out of the mouth of a cute 12/13 year old girl. Well, this year for her 14th birthday we were able to take this obsession and do something special with it.

Our family lives in Los Angeles, but we found out that my wife had to go to New York for work and was going to miss both our girls’ birthdays (the’yre only 4 days apart.) This is when our old school, Utah, family-first type of mentality kicked in and we decided instead of us being separated, we had an opportunity here. We already had the hotel room paid for; we could cash in our frequent flyer points to get three more plane tickets; and we could all four be together in New York for the girls’ birthdays. We were going to give them a New York birthday experience. Hell, I didn’t make it to New York until I was 30 years old, so these lucky two were definitely going to have me beat.

Once Bella heard this, being the little sweetheart that she is, she simply asked for one thing. She wanted to take her photo in front of the Richard Rodgers Theater – the home of Hamilton.

She never once asked if we could go see the show. I think it’s because she knew it would be an impossiblity. It’s impossible to get tickets, and even if we could, we probably couldn’t afford them. The prices are akin to a buying a damn Fiat. Nope, she would be the happiest person in the world if she could just have her photo taken in front of the place that has given her so much joy the last few years. This warmed my heart so much because it’s such a simple ask. Little did she know what was in store for her.

Fast forward, we’re in New York. It’s Saturday, her 14th birthday. All she wants for her “present” is to take her photo in front of the theater, so we go straight there to snap the perfect shot.

Although, while she thought I was simply taking a photo… I had it on video instead.

What you’re about to watch is that raw video. It is, quite honestly, one of the single, most purest outpourings of joy I’ve ever witnessed. I’ve watched it ten times and I cry each time (shut up!) I know it’s my kid, but if this doesn’t bring a smile to your face, you’ve got a problem.

That is joy.

Pure joy.

Hopefully you watched it all the way to the end because her, “Thank you. Thank you so much.” is what kills me every time.

Long story short, my wife was able to work some of her New York work connections, and someone who knew someone, who knew someone, was able to track down some tickets to the show. She deserves all the credit here. 100%. Something that I thought was impossible, she was able to do.

Bella’s such a good kid. She works so hard at everything she does. Most importantly she has such a pure heart. It was a true treat to do this for her. I’ve never felt so much pride in all my life. Initially I wasn’t going to share this video at all. It was special. It was for our family. It was personal. But after showing it to a few close friends, watching them tear up, every one of them told me that I needed to post it. People need to see this kind of happiness right now.

And yes, I know this may seem extravagant, and I fully acknowledge that it is. Trust me. But ask yourself, is there anything you wouldn’t do for your kids if you had the chance? Well, mine was able to have a memory that will stick with her forever. And I’m glad I could share it.

And don’t worry, my other daughter had a hell of a birthday as well. It’s not a one-over-the-other scenario. It may not have been a birthday present, but when I worked for the WWE, I was able to do this for her:

Her favorites wrestler was Kevin Owens and she got to meet him backstage. So she’s okay. Don’t worry about her being left out one bit. And if you notice in the video, she’s almost more happy than Bella is.

But this experience was about Bella. And Hamiton. And being able to realize your kid’s dream.

Sorry for being Mr. Softy Pants. But I felt I needed to share this joy with you as the proud papa. I’ll return to being the Scary Horror Writer tomorrow. And we can talk about Martyrs.

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