Only 15 minutes into Stephanie’s birthday dinner, Mr. and Mrs. Clarke’s plan to secretly tell the waiter it was their daughter’s 12th birthday began to really go up in smoke.
“It was supposed to be a clean operation,” explained Mrs. Clarke. “All we had to do was tell the waiter while Steph was in the bathroom. We were just really looking forward to the look of surprise and mild embarrassment on her face when she saw all the waiters marching toward our table, clapping and carrying a free dessert.”
The Clarkes report they were first caught off-guard when Stephanie didn’t make the bathroom trip they had been relying on.
“Just like that our plan had become derailed and we entered uncharted waters,” said Mr. Clarke, who didn’t eat any of the ravioli he ordered. “I was too busy trying to figure out an alternative course of action to eat. I tried to signal to the waiter that it was Steph’s birthday but he misunderstood my hand gestures and just brought us out more complimentary bread.”
Desperate after the waiter told the table he’d be back with the check, sources report Mrs. Clarke made a final attempt to get Stephanie away from the table, saying she had forgotten her purse and asking Steph to run to the car and grab it. Stephanie quickly reassured her mom that she hadn’t forgotten her purse as she could see it underneath the table.
“I shouldn’t have gone rogue,” Mrs. Clarke admitted. “After that sloppy misstep, we had to just come out and tell the waiter in front of Stephanie. The lack of mystery made it all seem like a greedy ploy to get a free lava cake. It felt dirty. There was nothing celebratory about it.”
It became clear to the Clarke parents that their struggle had been ill-considered when the restaurant’s signature, public domain birthday song dragged on for an unbearable second verse.