My ears perked up the minute I heard Dr. Hollander playing the familiar strains of “Happy Birthday.” It’s certainly one of my favorite tunes, and and the venerable Dr. Jeffrey Hollander, our long-admired pianist in the Lobby Lounge, pounds it out well on the old ivories.
I scanned the bar for the person who looked the happiest to be alive. That’s what birthdays are about, right? A day when you get to be surrounded by friends and say, “Whew, I made it to another one!”
The smile across Shaundra’s face pegged her as the birthday girl right away. I’m not sure if she has a million dollar grin on days when she’s not celebrating her big day, but the lady with the drink in front of her that had been purchased by the friend at her side was beaming. It seemed to me like she was having one of the greatest birthdays of all time as I approached and introduced myself.
I wished Shaundra well and asked her about all the revelry she had packed into her day. Surprisingly she answered, “I hadn’t really planned on doing anything today, but my friend convinced me to stop by the Pfister for a drink, and here I am.”
It was likely because Shaundra hadn’t given the day much thought that she was having a hell of a birthday. Sometimes setting the expectation bar low pays off with huge dividends. So far she had gotten Dr. Hollander’s lilting solo, a free drink, and the adoration of her friend as well as a gentleman at the bar who I saw and understood was certainly taking an interest in getting to know the birthday girl a little bit better.
I believe birthdays are sacred days in a person’s life, calendar marks that should only be reserved for eating cake for breakfast and napping until someone throws you a great dinner party. I always love to see friends and family on their birthdays because a good pal of mine created what she likes to call “The Birthday Questions.”
The Birthday Questions aren’t overly complicated. They are simple and straightforward, but they cause a birthday celebrant to pause, think and reflect. Shaundra told me she was game to answer the Birthday Questions, so I leaned in and listened as this friendly and positive lady let me know a little more about her life.
Question #1: What is the thing you are most happy about from your last birthday to this one?
I’m so proud that I opened my own salon this year. It’s called Salon Cass and it’s right down the street from the Pfister. It was a lot of work…I MEAN A LOT…but it has been great. I’m really happy about that one for sure.
Question #2: What is the one thing you wish hadn’t happened from last birthday to this one?
I wish my grandmother hadn’t gotten sick. She is a really special lady, and she has a condition that has confined her to a wheelchair. She still has a great attitude about life, but it is hard to see her sick like she is.
Question #3: If we see each other a year from now on your birthday, what is the thing that you hope you will have accomplished from this birthday to next?
I want to move to Las Vegas! I love it there. And I’d love to take my grandmother. We’d have a lot of fun. I can get help running my salon, but, yeah, Vegas is where I hope to end up someday.
Here’s to you on your recent special day, Shaundra, and may all your future wishes come true. I hope you’ll let me buy you a drink in the Lobby Lounge next year—that is if you can pull yourself away from the Vegas strip for a visit back home.
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