Restaurants routinely honor birthday celebrants with a free dessert, possibly a kooky hat, and almost certainly a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday” from the staff. Yet, speaking as a consumer who’s witnessed those situations too many times, I’d like to suggest a new standard amenity: Cattle prods. They should be distributed to the guests sitting around the birthday boy or girl so we can drive away the singing servers before they interrupt our conversation and otherwise wreck the meal.
Apparently I’m not alone in my birthday Scrooge-ism. A recent news story points out that some restaurant chains are rethinking their birthday hilarity because other guests resent the disruption. Some are reclassifying the once-obligatory song as an option rather than a standard operating procedure.
This, my fellow dining Americans, is a breakthrough for mankind. Never again will we have to grit our teeth as servers deliver a song to some stranger whom they’re treating as a best bud for three minutes, only to turn around and hit the table with a check. Nor will the reveler have to persevere through that often unwanted attention. And everyone else can relish conversation, one of the factors that makes a meal truly memorable.