Thursday, September 22, 2005

Happy Birthday, you asshole......

No way to turn "Happy Birthday" into a C-word.....but it is right up there with coffee, coordinators, champagne toasts and Ann Coulter.

One of the weird things you learn in Statistics 101.....the only course worse than Anatomy 101 for completely frying your brain......is that in a classroom sized group the odds of any two people having the same birthday are about 50-50. Really.

This means that in a restaurant that is not completely dead (say 50-100 covers, minimum) odds are that there will be a birthday. Especially considering the fact that people tend to go out on their birthdays to restaurants. A subset of this group (no doubt the late night coffee-drinking, champagne toasting, Ann Coulter wedding coordinators) love to have a candle stuck in a dessert and be serenaded by the staff.

The ultimate exponent of this behavior occurred in Carmel Valley Village years ago at Dennis Guglielmo's little Italian place, La Campagna. At La Campagna, dinner was always $100: quite dinner for two, $100; rowdy dinner for 6, $100; three people sitting in the rain on the deck, covvered by tablecloths, $100. At my partner's birthday party, at singing time Dennis sent out a spedini (deep fried layers of bread and cheese) with a lit cigarette stuck in the top. Classic. And $100.

Anyway, since the staff is gathered pell mell at the last second to sing, no one knows the birthday person's name but the people at the table, and maybe the waitress. So the song always dies: ''Happy birthday dear.........Phyllis.....Happy Birthday to you." Annoying, amateurish, silly and embarrassing for all involved.

I decided long ago to just embrace the annoying, amateurish and embarrassing silliness. We refused to sing anything other than "Happy Birthday, you Asshole!" Everyone knows that name....and it is amazing how enthusiastic the staff is (even the cooks and dishwashers!) to gather and belt that one out.

Everyone got the same treatment: little kids, newlyweds, grannies......if you wanted us to sing, it had to be "You Asshole." Thinned the ranks considerably.

The classic was two little old Carmel ladies. They insisted on a song...so we delivered. At the end, the birthday girl turned to her friend and said, "What did they say?"

Her friend said, "They sang 'Happy Birthday, you rascal'....."

Absolutely.

So, Happy Birtday you assholes: me, Brendan, Grandma Mary, Terry McCleery, Marietta Bain, Linda Hanel, Nina, and the Big Creek chick.

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