In a conversation with Robo today, I was reminded of how badly an office birthday party went some years ago. I was working at a law firm in San Antonio at the time, for a female partner who had a reputation of being a real perfectionist and a task master, both with her staff (me) and the attorneys she worked with. (Okay, when they hired me, they told me I’d be working for the “firm bitch.” — but it ends up nothing was farther from the truth.)

We were working on a case with the hospital district who was defending a sex discrimination lawsuit by a nurse. Our defense was that the nurse was a certified nut job. We even tried to claim she had Munchausen’s Syndrome. In examining her medical and personnel records, it was discovered that she, too, was born on July 13. And since her case bore so much resemblance to the case of Genene Jones, the infamous Baby Death Nurse of South Texas, I soon discovered that Genene also shared a birthday with me and our mischievous plaintiff, July 13.

My boss, not being someone generally taken with mirth or game-playing had decided to go out on a limb for me that year. She had the bakery inscribe the following words on my birthday cake:

Happy birthday, Joni, Genene and [Plaintiff’s first name]

And left the cake in the office kitchen. Whereupon it was discovered by a quite naive, but well-meaning young female associate, Kathleen. Kathleen lifted the lid of the box, saw the message and freaked out. She told the other associate with her that if my boss saw that, she would be livid. The bakery had obviously made a huge mistake. This cannot be countenanced. So Kathleen, well-meaning and misguided soul that she was, grabbed the nearest butter knife and began performing surgery on the cake. She ever so carefully removed the two offending names. She did such a good job that if I hadn’t seen the original text with my own eyes, I’d be hard-pressed to believe it was ever there. When she was done, the cake read:

Happy Birthday, Joni

Clearly, now all is right with the universe. Until my boss came in, of course, saw what Kathleen had done, shrieked in horror, and slapped the knife out of Kathleen’s hand. Me? I just smiled and shook my head and told Kathleen, “See? You lawyers can’t pass by anything without REVISING IT!”

Despite the cake SNAFU, a good time was had by all.

Happy Birthday To Me!