After demanding diamond earrings this year, and throwing a hissy fit after last year’s missing husband bicycle catastrophe, it’s probably apparent that I’m somewhat high maintenance when it comes to birthdays.
While I realize this isn’t the most appealing quality, it’s actually not my fault.
You see, my birthday diva tendencies are completely genetic.
That’s right — my dad, who celebrated his sixty-fourth birthday earlier this month, is even worse than I am.
There is one difference worth noting. While my birthday demands tend to come with a hefty price tag, Mark wants all of his birthday glory free of charge.
Let me explain.
Last Friday night, our family went out to dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant in Coronado, California. While the food does cost over ten dollars a plate, there’s free bottomless chips and salsa, so Mark agrees to dine there. We had just settled into our seats when I heard the faint sound of singing. Gradually, the melody grew louder and louder, until the table next to us was surrounded by six different waitors singing the restaurant’s official birthday song. As the performance commenced, the birthday “Ponchito” was presented with a slice of ice cream cake that was quite literally the size of a small pony.
I tried not to make eye contact with my dad, but it was too late. The seed had already been planted.
“We should tell them it’s my birthday” he suggested.
“Dad,” I calmly responded, “you’re birthday was eight days ago.”
“So?” he shrugged. “I didn’t get free dessert anywhere else on my birthday…I might as well claim it now!”
I rolled my eyes and went back to my chips and queso. This universal rule about being able to transfer your free birthday dessert to a later date was certainly news to me.
By the time our waitor had returned to take dinner orders, it seemed Mark had forgotten all about the free cake. Unfortunately, the Ponchito sitting on the other side of our table just so happened to also be celebrating a birthday. As the second slice of pony-sized ice cream cake whizzed by our table, Marks eyes gleamed with envy and desire. Again, I did everything in my power to avoid eye contact.
“Hey,” he whispered, “When the guy comes back, tell him it’s my birthday.”
“But Mark, it’s not your birthday” my mom protested.
“How are they going to know?” he grinned. “I don’t have my wallet, remember?”
This was true. Dad’s wallet had been missing for twenty-four hours. Suddenly, I wondered if the missing billfold was a desperately elaborate scheme for free frozen dairy product.
Each time the waitor breezed by our table, dad begged us to let him know it was his birthday. After three failed attempts, Mark decided to take matters into his own hands.
“Excuse me,” he inquired while tapping the waitor’s elbow. “How far from your actual birthday does it have to be for you to get the free cake?”
We cringed. Scott buried his face in the chip basket out of pure shame. I swooped in to salvage what was left of this humiliating exchange.
“Sorry sir,” I nervously muttered, “His birthday was…um…yesterday, but well, we didn’t get a chance to celebrate until tonight. Do you think you could sing to him?”
Our server generously obliged. As he walked away Dad turned to me and winked, wearing the biggest smile I’d seen on his face in a very long time.
Twenty minutes later, his moment in the spotlight arrived.
While most people blush a deep shade of crimson when publicly serenaded with a Tex-Mex version of “Happy Birthday”, Mark chose to sit a little taller, savoring each wonderful second of complimentary birthday glory. He glowed with pride as he claimed the attention of the room, along with his very own slice of pony-sized ice cream cake.
I’d be lying if I said the largest portion of the pony-sized ice cream cake didn’t go to me. Us birthday divas have to stick together, after all.