Birthday Bashing

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Eating Over The Sink

She won’t appreciate my telling all of you this, but there is no getting around it. Glorious Spouse has a Significant Birthday this month. Birthdays being considerably better than the alternative, she has resigned herself to the fact, and seems very happy that I suggested we have a party to celebrate.

Being as how June is National Accordion Awareness Month, National Dairy Month, National Safe Driving Month, National Pest Control Month, and National Turkey Month, we might have tied Old Broad’s Birthday – scratch that, replace it with G. S.’s Big Day – into one of those countrywide celebrations. Sort of to lessen the impact of the blow, don’t you know. We are devotees of theme parties, after all. But, leaving aside the question of why June is designated turkey month when everyone knows that November is the real turkey month, national hypes for the birthday were out of the question.

On the other hand, if we lived anywhere near Fort Sumner, New Mexico we could probably have had the party at the annual Tombstone Race they hold down there. They say that contestants carry (get this!) 80-pound replicas of Billy the Kid’s often-stolen gravestone, and they hoist them over track hurdles. Wouldn’t you love to see that! Just as orthopedic surgeons are said to set up field offices at the bottom of major ski runs, some say chiropractors post themselves at the end of the Tombstone race. Well, again, it beats the alternative, in this case, having undertakers sitting there, rubbing their hands together.

Anyway, since tombstones were the very thing we were trying to avoid at all costs, we decided that the order of the day would be Brunch. We chose to try a resort-type hotel we’d heard about in a nearby beach town where the brunch overlooks the beach and the surf beyond. Pretty nice. And, it would have the advantage of having a lot of choices for low carbers and non-low carbers alike. (Glorious Spouse is On The Program every day of the year, even on her birthday.)

We started making a guest list and other plans several months ago, and I called the hotel. “Hello,” says I. “I’d like to talk to someone about the Sunday Brunch.” I wait to be transferred to Guest Relations, the Restaurant staff, or the Concierge; someone or other. At long last, a gent comes on the line. I say again, “I’d like to find out who to talk to about the Sunday Brunch.”

“I’m sorry, sir,” he says. “We don’t have a Sunday Brunch.”

“You don’t have a Brunch.” I repeat his words.

“No. Sorry, sir.”

“But, I’ve been told by several people that you do,” I protest.

“No. Sorry, sir. Only on Mother’s Day.”

Back to the drawing board.

Then, about a month after my conversation with Sorry Sir, I see an ad in the newspaper, suggesting that we try Sunday Brunch at the beach, overlooking the sand and surf. And, it wasn’t Mother’s Day.

I called the number given in the ad, and I ask “How long have you been having this Sunday Brunch?”

“Oh, I’m not sure,” the girl says, “but I’d say at least 2 years.”

“Does anyone else know about it besides you?”

She doesn’t know what I mean.

Mystery solved. Notwithstanding PriceLine, CheapTickets, and Hot Whatever-it-is, it does make a difference which hotel you pick. Seems there are two hotels on that beach street, sitting side-by-side. I had originally called the one sans Sunday Brunch. But as I find out later, both hotels are owned by the same company. They are apparently not on speaking terms. Someone might have thought to tell me that the Brunch was next door!

Fates smile on fools with the wrong phone number. All was not lost. There was enough time, and we had not chosen any other spot. A date was set, and the correct hotel was visited with gusto.

Of course, it being a birthday party, it was incumbent upon us, those with good voices and those who had better keep their day jobs, to join in a verse or two of ‘Happy Birthday to You’ in honor of the Birthday Girl.

The four-line ditty known to half the world’s population as ‘Happy Birthday to You’ was written as a classroom greeting a hundred and ten years ago, in 1893. Two Louisville, Kentucky teachers, Mildred Hill and Patty Hill, who were sisters or sisters-in-law (I forget which) collaborated on the tune. The melody was composed by Mildred and the original lyrics were written by Patty. The song was called ‘Good Morning To All’ and was sung in Mildred’s classrooms for a lot of years before someone changed the words to those near and dear to us all.

Eventually, the song was copyrighted after a 1935 lawsuit, and believe it or not, the copyright was renewed in 1963 even though everybody in sight sings it with impunity! Then in 1988, Birch Tree Group, the company who owned the copyright, sold the rights to the song to Warner Communications for an estimated $25 million. And by 1996, it was earning Warner approximately $2 million dollars in licensing revenue each year. Considerably more than a song, I’d say.

‘Happy Birthday to You’ is said to be one of the three most popular songs in the English language, the other two being ‘Auld Lang Syne’ and ‘For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow.’ Happy Birthday to Glorious Spouse saw us sitting with twenty-eight of our good friends, all of whom enjoyed shrimp, prime rib, made-to-order omelets, and hosts of other items laid out, as for a Queen. And some of the guests also enjoyed things I don’t usually talk about in this column, things with chocolate sauce.

Personally, I enjoyed every little thing, even paying the (gasp!) bill.


Zack Grady enjoys all his friends birthdays in Southern California.

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Eating Over The Sink

ZACK GRADY writes from Southern California. He reads cookbooks, but mostly, he just adds garlic and hot sauce.

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