I'm always amused when someone waltzes into my cheap Mexican restaurant and announces that someone in the group is celebrating a birthday.
Like. I. Care.
This call to give a shit is always accompanied by a tacky store-bought birthday cake, dollar store decorations, and the expectation that I'll be bowing down to every birthday whim like some sort of medieval jester.
Recently, a family of four escorted their senile grandmother into my section to celebrate what must have been her 500th birthday.
Not only is the restaurant dimly lit; The sound system notoriously and almost offensively blares B-grade 80's pop confections and disco music. Not that any of this mattered to Grandma. In addition to being partially blind and mercifully deaf, I doubt she had any idea where she was.
Nevertheless, alpha male dad was prepared to make this the greatest night for Grandma since The Andrews Sisters performed a televised tribute to the boys at Pearl Harbor.
Poor Grandma was clad in a cheap birthday hat with a chin strap that kept missing her chin and aiming for her mouth. When I asked her what she'd like to drink, I unintentionally scared the shit out of her. Dad insisted that "Mimi" would like a Chardonnay.
Mimi's two fat grandsons sat on either side of her, scarfing chips like they'd survived internment, while Mom and Dad downed margaritas across the table. Dad would occasionally check in with Mimi, insisting she was having the time of her life beneath her comatose facade.
I watched in horror (and, yes, sympathy) as the food arrived. Mom and Dad continued their drunken exchange while the young chubs shouted around Mimi and shared the latest fart jokes. By the time Dad demanded I present Mimi with their unsightly grocery store pastry, Mom wisely suggested that they take the celebration elsewhere.
As they left, I whispered "Happy Birthday" to Grandma. She gave me the same look I give tables when they ask me an insanely stupid question and said, "Thank God for wine." I said a silent prayer that she would outlive all her immediate kin and put the whopping 12% tip from Dad in my pocket.
(The grandson in me wanted to help Mimi escape and take her somewhere peaceful where we could watch Humphrey Bogart movies and enjoy the silence. Should my children, grandkids, nieces or nephew ever try to put on such theatrics for my 100th birthday in a place so obviously geared toward a younger, drunker, poorer crowd, I'll leave them nothing in my will but a collection of cassette singles)