I've never really enjoyed celebrating my birthday. I love other people's birthdays, but could totally skip over my own. When I was a little kid and allowed to have a sleep-over birthday party for the first time, I fell asleep around 8 o'clock. When my mom woke me up and told me I was being a bad host to my friends who were there to celebrate, I responded with, "Just tell them to go home."
Real nice, I know.
Anyway, my least favorite part of birthdays is the Happy Birthday song. It's terrible. Sung in a restaurant, it's pretty much the saddest song ever. Meredith has heard me rant about this numerous times, so when she excused herself from the table the other night at my birthday dinner, I was not at all concerned. She would never have the waitstaff sing. She knows how I feel about it.
After we had finished our incredibly delicious sushi, I heard a familiar and terrifying sound. Three various pitches coming from three annoyed people, using the first word to steel themselves for the embarrassment of singing, and the attempt to find a key that suits them. A sound that is annoying to hear 364 other days of the year, but one that will literally make me sweat on my birthday. The shaky and out of tune, "Haaaaaaaapppp...."
It was weak in volume, but powerful enough to make my heart sink to the floor. I saw the glow of a single candle out of the corner of my eye and felt the temperature on my face rise about 35 degrees. As the three servers rounded the corner to our table I shot Mer a look and her smile quickly faded as she tried to convey with her eyes, "I didn't tell them to sing!" Standing next to our table, I smiled meekly at the timid chorus and looked to the other tables that had turned to watch.
If you've ever tried to take a picture with me, you know I talk awkwardly throughout the process. I do the same for the birthday song. So while the slowest version ever of "Happy Birthday" was being sliced thin and served raw at our table, I talked through the entire thing.
"Happy birthday to you..."
"OK, thank you. You really don't have to sing, it's fine."
"Oook, thanks everybody, that's nice, but you really don't have to... "
"OK, how 'bout I just blow the candle out and we'll call it a day? Oook, you're gonna keep going."
"Happy birthday dear..."
Honestly people, this chunk of time following the "dear" felt like an hour. I was so interested in the song ending that it didn't occur to me for at least 10 seconds that they had no effing clue what to call me. The restaurant was silent, my face was completely red and my head was down staring directly at the table top, when it struck me that these people might wait all night until I gave them a name. At the exact same time, Mer and I looked up and flatly said, "Jessica."
When they finished the song, the time-lapse with my name struck me as so funny that I started laughing uncontrollably. It was so perfect.