Office Birthday Foibles — the Song, the Celebration and the Horror
Why I hate the happy birthday song, and other musings
At some point in my adult life I realized that:
- I hate the happy birthday song
- I hate celebrating people’s birthdays at work
- Jehovah’s witnesses do not celebrate birthdays, which makes their birthdays the most entertaining of all.
First up: why I hate the happy birthday song
The happy birthday song is musically way too ambitious for the average bear. It’s a simple song really, but that isn’t the issue. It’s the musical range it attempts to cover. If you listen closely, you can hear a breaking point in the third verse, where its almost as if someone has a gun to your head to finish it. Your voice jumps up an octave inadvertently as if someone squeezed your butt or shoved something in it without your knowledge. Yes. It never sounds quite that great, and here’s why.
“Happy birrrrthdayyy to youuuuuu….” (please notice the musical note which the song starts on….was it high or low?)
“Happy birrrrthhddayyy to youuuuuu…” (verse two is the calm before the birthday song storm — and THAT’s when it happens — the off-key thunderbolt of birthday discordance)
“Happy BIRRRTHDDDAYYY (glass breaks) dear INSERT NAME HEREEEEEEEE”
The glass breaks as we violently change keys like a horror film because the damn song started too high to begin with…and there is nowhere to go from there! Moral of this birthday song story? YOU MUST START THE SONG ON A LOW NOTE TO SUCCEED!
“Happy birthdayyy to youuu.” And many mooorrreeee.
Start low…or forever hold the crack in your voice.
And now for fact #2: why I hate celebrating people’s birthdays at work.
Not only does it feel fake to wish someone you kind-of know a fantastic birthday, but it’s a pain in the ass to then pass the card on to whoever the hell else needs to sign it.
“Hope you have a great day, and another wonderful year Jeannette!”(smiley face) you squeeze into a corner that isn’t already over-run with false sentiments.
Then there’s the forced birthday cake celebration at work. The tacky decoration of the cube. The awkward stances in the room as everyone awaits the guest of honor, and the cutting of a cake only worth $9.99 yet somehow now perceived as the second coming of Christ on a late Thursday afternoon. A drippy warm syrup laden strawberry is lonely, rolling around on your half-eaten plate.
“How much longer should I hold half-ass conversations with people I do not care about?” you think to yourself…
Let’s give them something to talk about
And finally, there’s the cherished memory of giving a Jehovah’s witness something to celebrate. In human resources, we used to distribute cookies to employees on their birthdays, with carefully tagged cartoon character-head sugar cookies, labeled with the individual name and birthdate. You could say we spread good birthday cheer to those at our corporate office. “Cookie girls”…. we were affectionately called.
On one particular day, it was Fiona Flax’s birthday. Fiona was a sturdy designer, short, and ruddy. My partner in cookie distribution crime Melanie Birchfield. As I slowly approached Fiona’s cube to don the cookie, suddenly a co-worker nearby stood up proudly and announced — its Fiona’s birthday! Now I KNOW it’s your birthday HAHAHAH!!!
The scene was suddenly in slow motion for me. Fiona Fox’s face turned beat read, and my cookie fell low in my limp wrist.
“I am a Jehovah’s Witness and I do not celebrate my birthday,” Fiona said with fury, and utter disgrace at our presence.
“How dare you try to give this to me. This is completely inappropriate and I do NOT want that cookie. Take it!”
My cookie mate in crime Melanie Birchfield darted behind some desks, leaving me barely able to weather the now raging Jehovah’s Witness emotional storm. My insides were laughing maniacally while my outsides were mortified. I slowly apologized and backed away, leaving the moment as the slow motion storm in my head returned to normal speed.
Needless to say, I did not deliver Fiona Fox a cookie that day.
Happy birthday to me…..no cookie for you! Happy birthday dear birthday song….now go sing it true.