The Happy Birthday Instigator


I went to a great workshop a while back where, at the end, the speaker brought in a cake for someone whose birthday it was. The room was abuzz for a few seconds with little comments and stolen glances of the cake as they brought it, lit up in all its chocolate glory, over to the birthday-ee. The cake gets set down on the table and the air thickens with tension.

Who’s going to be the Happy Birthday Instigator?

Luckily, before any “haaaaa”s could be started, the speaker broke the tension asking us not to sing the song because it is truly the most awkward song in the world. So we clapped instead. Which, I imagine, felt much better for everyone in the room. He got me thinking about how truly awful that song is.

It’s the price you have to pay for that slice cake.

Mentionable moments of the song include:

• the mega-high part of the song right before you say their name, “happy bIIIRRRthday dear *someone*…” Depending in which key the Happy Birthday Instigator began the song, everyone is temporarily in a state of voice-cracking vulnerability.

• speaking of the “happy birthday dear *someone*…”, the *someone* part of the song at most times (depending on how well everyone in the room knows each other) becomes muffled with an influenced mix of relationships along with people who don’t actually know who they’re singing to. Is it John? Jonathan? Johnny? What about John-o? Do I even know this guy? I’m just here for the cake.

Not only is it unpleasant for the people singing the song, but the birthday-ee on the other end gets to sit there like a grinning idiot while everyone sings at them. The only thing worse than singing the song is not singing the song while everyone else is singing it.

I propose that we think of a new birthday ritual, one that’s just as awesome as getting to eat the cake. Smothering the person in birthday kittens perhaps?

There’s gotta be a better way.

- L

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