You can usually count on Slate for a contrarian take on any matter serious or trivial, almost always written with a degree of prolixity that would make Ayn Rand blush from the grave. That said, bust out your dictionary.com window and read this disquisition on the birthday dinner.
Seems like a nice idea, the birthday dinner. It is not. It is a tedious, wretched affair. It is also an extravagantly expensive one. In these wintry economic times, we need to scale back. I hereby propose that the birthday dinner go the way of the $4 cup of coffee, the liar’s mortgage, and the midsize banking institution.[…]
[…] I found myself wedged between Simon’s high-school friends and his college friends. Feeling more of a ken for the high-school side of the table, I tried to orient myself in that direction, but the effort required a socially and anatomically awkward craning of the neck. I was left in a no man’s land—on the fringe of two conversations, an active player in neither. Had we been at a bar, I could have maneuvered my way out of such a quagmire by excusing myself to order another round of sweet, sweet SoCo and lime. Thus escaping, I could have muscled my way over to the guest of honor and given him a good birthday noogie. But mired in the middle of this dinner table, the only way I was going to get Simon’s attention was by faking an aneurysm, and I just wasn’t feeling up to it.
The whole thing is pretty amusing.