This one time an entire restaurant of people thought I was dead.
It was my first birthday away from home and my family decided to uphold the tradition of going to Red Robins to celebrate. Ever since I was 5 my family went to Red Robins on my birthday. This tradition lasted for 15 years, with my first birthday away from home also being the last birthday I ever went to Red Robins.
It wasn’t that the food at Red Robins was that great, though I did always love to challenge my dad to see which of us could finish the “Big Mouth Burger” (I actually won a few times. Though I’m not sure if this is something I should be proud of?), and the bottomless fries were delightful. No, the reason I loved Red Robins was because of the fuss they made on your birthday. The wait staff would all come out and sing to you, forcing you to stand on a chair for the whole restaurant to see. When I was younger, and far less heavy, they used to let me sit in the chair and would hoist me up on their shoulders. I was always a strange mix of mortified and elated, and it was one of my favourite things about my birthday.
We had all planned it out for weeks, and I can’t tell you how touched I was that my family was going to celebrate me. My brother, sister-in-law, boyfriend and I all went out in Edmonton and the rest of my family went to the Victoria location, bringing with them a picture of me as part of the celebration.
I obviously wasn’t there for what happened in Victoria, but by all accounts (my Dad) it was both hilarious and awkward. My Mom proudly displayed the picture of me, and was all too happy to tell the waitress (who happened to be an old coworker of mine) that my family was celebrating my first birthday away from them. The waitress understood that I had just moved, but the rest of the staff who came out to sing were bewildered and a bit disturbed to be singing to a picture (they didn’t notice the cell phone in my Mom’s hand, where she had me on speakerphone so I could hear my cross-province serenade).
Allegedly one of the waitresses was actually near tears.
I still firmly believe that my family should have let the staff believe I was dead instead of trying to explain why they would bring a picture to a restaurant and force a bunch of 20-somethings to sing to it. Perhaps they could have gotten something free out of it? But alas, explain they did.
This is probably one my favourite birthday memories, and I wasn’t even there for it. Oh well, at least I was there in Spirit.