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Opinion November 2012

The Old Gal

Happy Something or Other

By Anne Ashley

You don’t even want to get me started on the inane, syrupy sweet messages inside greeting cards these days. It used to require just the occasional tweaking of the inner verse to accurately reflect my intended sentiments. Then I noticed more and more I had to draw lines through sentences and then entire phrases to avoid nearly proposing when all I meant to convey was a simple Happy something-or-other!

I can’t recall the last time I celebrated my birthday – I mean really celebrated it. It’s not that I mind getting older (or old). I modestly recognize the day I was born with an acquaintance or possibly a family member – once in a rare while I’ll even share a drink – but on the whole it’s a reasonable acknowledgment, not an event that requires near wedding planner efforts!

Last week I received a “save the date” invitation for a birthday party scheduled three months from now. Settle your excitement, this wasn’t the real invitation. Nay, this was the pre-invitation! The real invitation is coming with promises that it will impart pertinent details of the festivities that clearly I’m not capable of managing just yet! But for now I am to forgo all other merriment or appointments on the chosen date so as to be available for the affair.

Umm … someone didn’t get enough hugs in their youth, huh!

Aside from the pretentiousness of bookmarking a person’s future leisure time, it’s absurd to send two professionally printed, with tissue paper inserts and a self-addressed, stamped RSVP envelope all for the sake of what used to warrant nothing more than a well-worn jingle and a cake – ok, possibly a few gifts and some balloons – if you’re feeling particularly bighearted and you’re 12 years old! 

Clearly I’m alone in thinking that this birthday thing is getting out of hand, too, since similar to the self-indulgent invite, I can no longer sit contentedly in a restaurant of any quality without being forced to take part in someone’s birth date revelry.

There I am, minding my own business and out of the corner of my eye I spot the wait-staff gathering together. This can only mean one thing –  and it isn’t extra service!

Ahhh … yes, there it is … the clanging, banging and clapping that signals my order will remain on hold until the entire establishment has finished gathering around the table of someone pretending to be embarrassed by all the attention.

A cake is proffered (incidentally, it’s rarely ever a cake – more than likely it’s a cupcake or some sort of flan adorned with a sparkler! Yet from the amount of noise and disruption you’d think they were wheeling out the wedding cake from the opening scene of The Godfather!) …Anyway, some version of Happy Birthday is belted out, the offending table of people laughs loudly and then the wait-staff retreat back into their appointed stations.

Worse still, I thought I had successfully evaded the kind of place where such activities were likely to occur. I’ve felt safe in the knowledge that loud intrusions would be restricted to the more family-themed, kid-friendly types of restaurants  –  pizza places, burger joints, hotdog-n-pickles kinda places – places with Feed-Bag or Nosh or All-You-Can-Eat tellingly in their title. I calculatedly choose more refined, less playful establishments to avoid being forced to take part in wishing someone Happy Birthday when I really don’t mean it! But now even the higher end eateries are getting in on the act! 

The last straw came about when I was enjoying a leisurely meal with my long-suffering husband, to my horror –  the place erupted with a chorus of Happy Birthday! I was incensed! Here? I cried!

Here?

Incidentally, this seemingly mild outburst of mine necessitated in another guideline being added to the rapidly growing list. You might recall reading in previous articles that my husband has

imposed ground rules in order for our marriage to survive. He’s now included:  I'm not entitled to walk over to the table of partiers and remove a piece of cake just because I had to listen to their celebration!

I blame this escalation of self-appreciation on society’s fixation with Z-list celebrity lifestyles. Somehow we’re all convinced we’re Kardashians!

As I mentioned before, I will buy cards. Blank cards, that is. You don’t even want to get me started on the inane, syrupy sweet messages inside greeting cards these days. It used to require just the occasional tweaking of the inner verse to accurately reflect my intended sentiments. Then I noticed more and more I had to draw lines through sentences and then entire phrases to avoid nearly proposing when all I meant to convey was a simple Happy something-or-other! When my cards ended up looking as though they’d been censored by the government, I gave up and resorted to buying blank cards, filling them in with my own, more appropriate thoughts – typically no more than Happy something-or-other plus my signature!

I will bestow small gifts and occasionally I’ll even share a drink to honor the individual. But I refuse, I absolutely refuse to accept that merely aging another year entitles you to annoy the public or splurge on a super-sized festival just to celebrate your accomplishment of still being here!  

 

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