Parents and grandparents, this is a cautionary tale. Remember that what you inflict on your children and grandchildren can scar them for life. Be prepared for the horror...
I was turning 10 and we were living in New Orleans East where Dad was assigned to start a multi-ethnic congregation. My grandparents on my father's side were living on the North Shore of Lake Pontchartrain by that time. I'm not sure who made the decision, that part of the tale has been lost, but we wound up at the Chi-Chi's on Veterans Blvd. in Metairie to celebrate my birthday. I guess it was a logical location because it was at a mid-point between our homes.
Keep in mind that I tend to be on the shy side unless I know someone well and that I don't like crowds or being the center of attention.
My grandmother had my grandfather arrange for the wait staff to come sing "Happy Birthday" to me. They came out and put the ginormous sombrero on my head and asked if I wanted the short version or the long version. Somewhat desperate to get out of the spotlight of the crowded restaurant, I replied with these words of doom, "The short version."
I don't even know if everyone was looking but it sure felt like they were. The waitstaff all got down on their knees and proceded to sing the birthday song to me. Twice. Get it? Short Version? I just about died.
Know how you can feel your cheeks heat when you blush? My entire body went nuclear. I still remember how embarassed I felt.
For several years after that, my grandmother insisted on having my birthday dinner at a mexican restaurant. I would beg them not to have the people come with the sombrero and sing but they always did. I think they thought it was funny and that I'd get over it. Maybe I should have.
To this day, it's all I can do to stay in my chair in the restaurant when I hear waitstaff singing "Happy Birthday" to someone - and it's the worst in mexican places with those darn sombreros. It's practically a phobia. Does anyone know what you would call such a phobia?
Anyway, happy birthday, Sara! This story is for you :)