February 24, 2014

Birthdays - Blessings and Burdens

There are moments. And then there are moments. Since this is officially a running blog, I’m going to describe this moment like it is…a bit of a runners high…only it didn’t involve any running.

It goes something like this. I’m in New York City with my family last week for my birthday. We go to this really cool/hip restaurant in Tribeca for dinner to celebrate. We sit down at a table and next to us are four people, and one of them looks really familiar.  I sneak a closer glance and realize its Smokey Robinson, as in Tears of a Clown and Tracks of My Tears Smokey Robinson. For those of you runners not musically inclined, it’s the guy who helped put Motown on the map. 

Anyway, after sitting there for a while I lean over and whisper to my wife and daughters. I tell them who I see. We all agree not to be star struck idiots and make a big deal out of the situation.

The night goes on and eventually the waiter brings out a birthday cake with a candle. Only it isn’t for me. It is for Smokey. It's his birthday too! His table begins to sing happy birthday. We and others join in. We all clap at the end. Then Smokey looks over at our table to thank us and he notices the card my oldest daughter drew for me. It reads Happy Birthday Daddy! He wishes me happy birthday and we shake hands.

No big deal? “I just shook hands with Smokey Robinson,” I keep saying while my girls laugh at me. I think back to the hundreds of times I’ve said “smooookeeey” with my good friend Lobster. I think further back, some 30 years now, and I remember the bass riff I used to strut during the song Tears of a Clown I played with my old ska band The Exceptions. 

Now the waiter brings out a cake and candle for me, and Smokey Robinson and his friends begin to sing happy birthday to me. What? Is this really happening? Apparently it was happening, because my daughters told me it did.

Next, the waiter brings a special desert to our table. “Wait, we didn’t order that” I’m thinking to myself.  “Special birthday gift from Smokey himself” the waiter announces. So I get out of my chair and walk over to thank Smokey Robinson for buying us a special desert for my birthday. He gets up, we shake hands, pose for a quick photo, and share a minute together talking about birthdays and such. I remember saying something about birthdays being blessing and a burden, to which his friend replied that the alternative is much worse. All I could think was this one was only a blessing. 

What can I say other than the evening really got a hold of me.


Brandon Fuller said...


Ric Munoz said...

Wonderful story, Will! And belated happy birthday to you. The coolest people -- as you know -- are those who were/are born in February!

it's all about pace said...