Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Another Birthday

Today is my birthday. In lieu of gifts, please just send cash*. Birthdays have always been a weird day to me.  Growing up in the Midwest and having a birthday mid-November, as a kid I always associated my birthday with the first snow of the season. Maybe that’s why I hate snow. As for birthdays, my opinion is mixed.   

I always wanted to have a summer birthday so that I could be outside or have a pool party or, best case scenario: a pool party outside unlike the indoor pool party I had one year. Like most Midwesterners we went to a community pool where on any given day you could see little kids force grownups to wait around for hours while a miserable teenager cleaned out the Baby Ruth filled water.  OK, maybe that wouldn’t have been so fun after all.  

Instead of a bathing suit I usually got to bundle up in a sweater, moonboots, scarf, hat, and snow jacket to go to my birthday parties.  By the way, some people might call it a ski jacket but along with my dislike of snow comes an inherent aversion to going really fast down a slippery incline while it’s 14 degrees out. Surprisingly, the potential for broken bones and/or maiming doesn’t entice me much either.

I usually got to celebrate my birthday at an exciting location like the Ground Round. The incredibly exciting attraction at that place was that you could eat peanuts and throw the shells on the floor while watching 50-year-old Three Stooges movies. Even as a kid I didn’t think they were funny.

Another local fiesta hot spot was Showbiz Pizza. If you aren’t familiar, Showbiz was where Chuck E. Cheese rejects got shipped for bad behavior. They had those same creepy animatronic creatures who sang while their heads swiveled no more than 45 degrees.  You also got the same crappy pizza as served by Senor E. Cheese. Then again, I don’t think kids under the age of 10 actually realize that any pizza is bad, even if it is literally just a piece of cardboard covered in ketchup and confetti.  At least they had Skee-ball. 

As an adult, birthday celebrations evolve. For several years after college I’d have a birthday dinner with five to twenty-five of my closest friends. You know these types of celebrations.  It usually consists of a bunch of people in an overly loud space with food that takes forever and the honoree somehow ends up stuck at the end of the table. There are overpriced cocktails and at the end of the meal there is major squabbling over the bill depending on which style of “Restaurant Math” is applied.

If you aren’t familiar, there are two primary formulas for calculating a bill when at a restaurant with a  large group.  The one certainty is that both ways irritate the majority of the group the majority of the time. 

The first is “Uneven Division”: this is when you divide the total bill by the number of people at the table.  As a result of this style the people who drink heavily usually come out way ahead of those who arrive late or only eat a salad or entrée.  The second style is “Remedial Adding”: when everyone chips in a certain amount of cash based on what they ate. Somehow this never works out and the pot usually ends up at least 30% short. Even though the bill is self explanatory, someone who ate only a salad ends up paying $50 to compensate for the drunk cheapskates in the group. 

BC was born 9 days before my birthday two years ago so that year my birthday was spent helping him get over the trauma from his Bris the day before. But otherwise for the last several years, I’ve mainly had quiet celebrations with my wife. Since she is a mathematics professional we have very little squabbling over the bill like the annoying situations I described above. On this night, I let her pay.

*= Or if you really want to be my friend, you can “Like” my Facebook or Twitter pages as a gift.  

Thanks for reading The Dude of the House! Tell your friends... 

--JJ aka The Dude of the House

1 comment:

  1. I love the restaurant math. You captured that painful time when the bill arrives so well! And it's true. Those seem to be the only two methods for dividing a bill. You'd think in our modern age we could solve this maddening problem.