June 28, 2014

Serenaded in special ways, or how I got the name "Birthday Guy"

My dad and stepmom always call and sing "happy birthday" to us on our special days. This year they were a day late for me--they called Friday--but it didn't matter since they would only be singing to my voicemail anyway.

Over the years I've had some very special birthday songs. Nothing so unique or quite as special as this, but there are three that come especially to mind.

The car that needed new tires.
The tree fell shortly after the
new tires were installed.
About fifteen years ago when our first son was only a toddler, my car desperately needed new tires. I mean, those tires were balder than I am now. So we went to Concord and, while we waited for the installation, we ate brunch at a nearby Denny's. The manager, a middle aged guy with an impressive comb-over as I recall, was so genuinely excited that he gathered the entire morning staff to sing a new birthday song he'd just trained them on. He told one busboy to start them off; the poor kid looked utterly befuddled and mumbled, in no particular key or melody, "Um... zippidy, zippidy... um..."
The manager leapt in, took charge, and led his somewhat reluctant staff in a chorus of, "Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, Zip-a-dee-ay, my oh my it's your birthday."

I haven't been back to that Denny's since. Or, come to think of it, any Denny's.

Three years ago, my birthday fell on the day we drove the Boy Scout troop up to scout camp. According to tradition, the troop stopped for breakfast in Stockton (America's Foreclosure Capital) at Burger King. Somewhere along the way, one of the boys found out it was my birthday and bought me a slice of BK's apple pie. The whole troop (about 30 boys and a half dozen adults) sang "ha
ppy birthday" to me right there at 8 a.m. in Burger King in Stockton. Try to contain your jealousy.

This year on my birthday, I was in Palm Springs for work. One of the programs I run at my day job utilizes Desert Arc, a nonprofit that employs developmentally disabled adults, for order fulfillment. It's a terrific organization, and we were on site for business when dear friend and colleague Melissa disappeared for a bit and returned with two huge sheet cakes. One said Thank you Desert Arc for the work they do, and the other said Happy Birthday Peter. We brought these in to the 60 or so Desert Arc clients who were working on our program. And, for a few minutes, I was the recipient of the most enthusiastic, emphatic, and raucous chorus of "happy birthday" you've ever heard.

And I made a couple of new friends, most notably "Robin," who said she's going to call me Birthday Guy from now on.