The one thing everyone must do in life

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Stan Pearlman, sorta birthday boy.

Through the years I’ve heard 1,001 things people need to do. People need to invest in gold. People need to attend church more often. People need to eat wheat, drink coffee, stop eating wheat, stop drinking coffee. They need to visit their mothers more often. They need to take longer walks. They need to love and skip and jump and …


It’s all bullshit.

There is only one thing everyone must do in the course of a life, and it is this: You need to send someone a slice of birthday cake in a crowded restaurant when it’s not actually that person’s birthday. And you need it to include a candle and singing waiters, too.

I can’t emphasize this point enough. There is nothing better, or even close to being better. Not sex. Not money. Not courtside seats to the Milwaukee Bucks. Nothing rivals to absolute joy of the restaurant fake birthday. It is, truly, the key to happy and healthy living.

Take earlier today, for example. It was me, my kids, my father in law and my father. We were sitting inside the Mt. Olympus Diner when I excused myself to use the bathroom. While passing my waiter I thought, “Hmm … my dad’s birthday is Nov. 15, and today is June 18.” So I slyly told the man we were celebrating a special day, and asked whether they could do something to help.

Well, they sure did. I flashed my son and daughter the ol’ fake-birthday-cake-thing hand signal (this isn’t our first rodeo), and they dutifully suppressed their giggles as four waiters approached with a slice of strawberry shortcake, a lit candle stabbed into the heart. Dad was talking to me about something or something else, and as the flame came near he looked up with a confused glance. Then the cake was placed before him, and he flashed a crooked grin.

The singing was wonderful. People clapped along. As the tune wrapped my dad—a truly wonderful man—gazed toward the waiters and said, “Thank you. Thank you so much. You’ve made this day truly special for me.”

The cake was $4.50 and not particularly tasty.

It was worth every penny.