Don't Tell Me Happy Birthday
When you say 'happy birthday,' my default reaction is confusion. What does it mean? What are you trying to say? That single statement, those two words, they ooze with disrespect. And every year, I put on a smile and act as if everything's okay. But no longer; it's time to expose this phrase for the blasphemous and confusing mess of sounds that it truly is.
Oftentimes, the phrase is put into all capital letters. This is possibly for the purposes of indicating excitement, but to a wary bystander such as myself, it comes off as quite intimidating. 'HAPPY BIRTHDAY' evokes a screaming man with a comically large megaphone, as the force of the soundwaves part my hair right down the middle.
At its core, it's a proclamation. 'Happy Birthday' is something that feels like it should be read off a scroll by someone wearing a crown at the top of a very long staircase, with aides repeating the message every feet. It's an imperative to which I must kneel, a command that I feel obliged to follow. It feels like the birthday is now required to be happy, and that I have no choice in the matter, that these happy birthdays shall no longer be granted to me if I refuse.
Or perhaps it's a gentle suggestion. Maybe the speaker just wanted to have an air of general suggestion, in a way that didn't tread on anyone's toes. Something along the lines of 'well, only if you want to, I think you should have a good birthday, but hey if you don't it's cool too, actually forget I said anything.' But that would make me uncomfortable. How dare the speaker suggest what I do on my birthday or how I do it. At least with the command, it was shameless in its directness. This interpretation is a push masquerading as a coy, inoffensive comment in passing. Not a whole lot better.
Some feel the need to exclaim. They artificially inject excitement into the phrase to tell me exactly how I should be feeling, which is nice in principle, but the exclamations stand out to the point that it feels like I just had a red bull enema. The number exclamations might even surpass the number of letters in the phrase, an occurrence that (frighteningly) happens more commonly than you'd think.
In scattered situations, it's even impersonal. Some insert my name after the phrase, which is weird, because it's not like there's anyone else in the conversation that they'd be talking to. Some have the indecency to write my name in lowercase like 'happy birthday uday!' which is both offensive and repulsive, because it affords my name the same amount of respect you would give to an improper noun, like a coffee table or a condom. Sometimes the 'happy birthday' is by itself, a lonely phrase seeking the companionship of words on either side.
And then there's the issue of all the repeating letters — the choice of which is definitely interesting. Some elongate the first word like 'happyyyyy birthday', while some have make the indefensible choice of elongating an already-long word like 'happy birthdaaaaaaay'. Emphasizing the 'a' only hammers the point home that it's a day, which makes me sad, because I want to be celebrated all the time. Reminding me that my joy is only supposed to last 24 hours is the antithesis of being happy. Elongating the 'y' makes it sound as smooth as a baby sliding out of the vaginal canal, which is a rather fitting degree of smoothness. There are also the rare viagra-induced folk that elongate both words like 'haaaappy biiiiiirthday,' like some drunk white girl trying to convince me to take a selfie.
It's all terrible. I don't know how to feel. Happy birthday to me.