A SONG IN THE DINING ROOM
I went to a Chinese restaurant for dinner the other night with some friends. While we enjoyed our honey chicken a loud voice boomed from the corner. Another unintelligible sound followed and the waiter scurried about shaking his head. I ignored the noise, continued on my plate and marvelled at the novel appearance of the Lazy Susan at my table.
It wasn’t a mere five minutes before the voice in the corner volumed up again, this time into song. More specifically “Happy Birthday”.
Confused patrons, including myself, darted eyes around the restaurant searching for the culprit. As if to guide us, the voice became louder and louder. As it increased in volume, it further decreased in comprehension.
It took me a while to understand what was going on. But before I knew it, I too was singing “Happy Birthday” along with the restaurant owners and other bemused patrons. When it came time to sing the name in the song, the restaurant became quiet. No one actually knew whose birthday it was, it just seemed none of us wanted to let the old man in the corner sing all by himself. Colin was the name that filled the blank in the song. I had no idea who Colin was.
It wasn’t until at the end of the tune, the old man stood up. He said thank you to the entire restaurant, including those shouting at him to “Shut up”. He then went on thank those who couldn’t understand English by announcing “Viva Malay”. I had no idea what that meant, but it didn’t sound like something an Asian who couldn’t speak English would understand?
It was after his announcement I realised that the old man was Colin. Colin had just sung himself a Happy Birthday, cheered himself three cheers and recited for he’s a jolly good fellow. Colin then told himself “to sit down, before you fall down”.
Thanks Colin. I don’t think I could have put it any better if I’d said it myself.
Oh, and Happy Birthday.
Words by Tennille Paterson
Image from Poorly Dressed