Wednesday, February 5, 2014

"The Confection That Dares Not Speak Its Name"

AKA:  "The Thing With Candles In It That You Get On Your Birthday"

I am writing this from a Fitness Spa where the food is fine but insistently healthy (more about that in my "Super Bowl at the Spa" blog post tomorrow.)  The mention of food, meaning the kind you don't get here, can send people into a tizzy, causing them to run amok, salivate and attack other, most especially any allusion to the sweet and doughy concoctions turned out in in our finer bakeries.  That's just taboo, and entirely verboten.  You can be punched out just mentioning a bagel.  And I imagine receiving the same from anyone looking over my shoulder, so I shall follow the appropriate precautions as I proceed.

(I have this persistent fantasy of brigands and/or scalawags commandeering this spas, and e-mailing pictures showing them threatening to force-feed rich Mexican pastries to their loved ones if they they don't immediately send money to a prearranged scalawag-rented P. O. Number.  I always thought that might make an interesting movie.  Entebbe with cream puffs.)


The first time I had my birthday at this spa, I was surprised at dinner, when the chef himself, appropriately chefly-girthed and decked out in white tunic and tall hat, emerged from the kitchen, bearing the thing with candles in it that you get on your birthday, and singing in a semi-operatic a traditional, mellifluous Mexican birthday song.  I recall tears in the eyes.  Not my eyes, the chef's.  And I never met the guy before.

The gesture was extremely touching.  However, the traditional, mellifluous Mexican birthday song is apparently quite long.  And the chef was insistent upon singing the whole thing.

There I sat, the smiling recipient of this melodic attention, aware that people's meals were being interrupted for the occasion, and this song kept going on and on and on.  In time, "touching" evolved into feeling uncomfortable, followed quickly by feeling incredulous, impatient, and annoyed.  

But I kept smiling.  As did the entire dining room, fearing offending their about-to-be-made "new friend" who may shortly - when the song finally ends - share with them his chocolatey beneficence. 

The next time I visited the spa on my birthday, I recall sitting at a table with seven or eight strangers, knowing they would soon feel lucky for having me as their table-mate that evening.  It is a rare and heady occasion, when I actual feel certain I am going to be liked.  I was virtually floating out of my chair.

The meal ended...

...and nothing.

Apparently, during the intervening years between visits, the tradition of bringing out the thing with the candles in it that you get on you birthday had been abandoned.  It, apparently, was felt easier to curtail such a highly-anticipated tradition that to tell the chef not to sing.  

At least, I didn't "heads up" my table-mates that there was something coming they were really going to enjoy.  I would have had to leave the spa early, hopefully unescorted and not ridden out on a rail.  

This post is being written a day before my birthday.  I do not know where the tradition currently stands.  (They have a new chef.)  No matter how things turn out, I shall attempt to retain my much celebrated aplomb.  

Que sera sera.

In the meantime, I shall practice "the Face."

The face that says (in an accent, rich in Gallic distain),

"I don't care one way or ze other."

It is not an easy face to pull off.

Especially if you do not entirely mean it.

1 comment:

Wendy M. Grossman said...

I am so grateful I've never been in the kind of place where these sung birthday things are in order. For one thing, I loathe the birthday song.

(I have an alternative birthday song I learned from the folksinger John McCutcheon that I play for friends when appropriate.)

For another, I'd just cringe.