Happy Birthday To You… How Old Are You Now?

Let me start by saying, aside from my childhood, I’ve never been a big self-celebrator of my birthday. I can’t remember a time in my ‘adult’ life where I was comfortable being ‘the birthday boy’.

Does anyone like when the waiters at Ruby Tuesdays/Outback/TGIFridays/Red Lobster/Applebys… etc sing Happy Birthday to you– in their own restaurant-specific phrasing? Is the free scoop of vanilla ice cream worth sitting there wearing an oversized sombrero at On The Border and listening to these poor waiters getting forced to do it for the 10th time that night?

Did you know why they all sing their own version? Because, believe it or not, “Happy Birthday” was a copyright protected song. Here’s how the genius of Aaron Sorkin explained it on Sports Night

Now, I’m not a complete monster. I loved my birthday as a kid. I remember parties every year. I remember sitting there looking out my parents’ front door, watching the hands on the clock move SO slowly towards the start of the party.

One year I got Superfriends Colorforms. MAN I loved that thing. Everything about it – Colorforms were awesome and Superfriends were even better!

We did birthday parties at the “good” McDonalds which had the indoor playground. We got to climb up into Mayor McCheese!

I also remember the year I did NOT get a birthday party. Why? Cause my LITTLE BROTHER broke my Mickey Mouse record player. Mom and Dad told me if I left it out and he broke it, I wouldn’t get my party. Damned if they didn’t stick to that threat! (Yes, I’m still bitter about that.)

I spent my 21st birthday at a happy hour with people I worked with at Prudential. (Yes, I left college early – that’s a whole other story.).

I don’t really remember what I did for my 30th and for my 40th, my wife threw me a really fun party with friends and family with a Star Wars theme. Hey, just because I’m older, doesn’t mean I have to grow all the way up!

In our modern world, it’s nice. You get a good percentage of your Facebook “friends” to leave a message on your wall. Those who are closer will text or call, and that’s always nice.

However, for the most part, it’s another day – to me, anyway. I know not everyone feels the same. I see people drop hints for days, leading up to their birthday, hoping for us to remember. I see people who want special treatment or throw themselves a party.

Then there are a few people I know, and have worked with, who take a vacation day for their birthday. It’s like they were president or something and deserve the day off for their birthday.

I understand it if you have plans. If you’re going to spend the day at the zoo with the kids, or spend the day on a date with your wife – works for me.

It’s the people who take the day off (again, only because 40 something years ago, they were born – something they had nothing to do with) to just sit home. Watch TV. Play some video games. Wait for the kids and the wife to get home from school/work and then go to dinner.

Why not just go to work and come home with everyone else? Why treat your birthday like a regular old Saturday. Why use a paid day off because it’s your birthday?

No disrespect to those who do this, but I just don’t get it. Maybe you can explain it to me? Help me understand that in the comments below.

To me, it’s just my 43rd trip around the sun. But, feel free to send a card or bake a cake – those are always nice. Just wait till I get home from work.


P.S. Since that episode of Sports Night, Mildred and Patty Hill has given “Happy Birthday” over to public domain. So, now the crew at TGIFridays can go back to singing the original version.

P.P.S. Today is Jon’s birthday.. Happy Birthday, good sir! (Yeah, Jon went to work today.)

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