CRANBROOK, B.C. – An otherwise ordinary round of Happy Birthday devolved into chaos at a crucial moment yesterday at the office of Cunningham & Partners, Ltd., exposing the office’s general ignorance of their honoured coworker’s name.
The incident occurred at a pre-lunch cake cutting event, a small, usually uneventful ceremony held for every staff member on their birthday or the preceding Friday if their birthday falls on a weekend. The small group of assembled office workers began the obligatory chorus of ‘Happy Birthday’ with some hesitance but had built to a confident, full-throated belt by the end of the first half of the song.
Happy Birthday is a traditional, ubiquitous song consisting of only 6 unique words – one of which is the name of the song’s honouree. It was this wildcard lyric which tripped up the staff at Cunningham & Partners.
“We were sounding good going into the third “Happy Birthday,” said Marina Kirkland, payroll director. “And we were still going strong on “dear,” but after that it all went to hell.”
Following a conspicuous pause marked by panicked eye contact, musical chaos ensured. One staff member confidently sang the name “Ste-ven” while two others sang “Vik-ram” with equal conviction. Several staff hedged their bets by singing “birth-day” again to maintain lyrical symmetry, while everyone else simply sang two loud, completely indistinct syllables.
As though to compensate for the blunder, the group then executed the final refrain at full volume in an impressive improvised five-part harmony.
Since the incident some have blamed budget cuts for the confusion. “We used to always pay the extra for custom icing, so if I wasn’t sure of the name I could always read the cake,” said Colby Pifko, Account Manager, who, at the crucial moment panicked and sang “choc-late.”
As of press time what’s-his-name could not be reached for comment.