If you ask me, one of the lamest things is asking a group of people to sing “Happy Birthday.” About half of them sing and those that do are barely audible. Most peter out before the end.

So, when LCCC president, Tom Leary, asked those attending the ACT 101 luncheon at the college recently to sing “Happy Birthday” to their adviser, Cindy Malkemes, whose birthday was the day before, I had low expectations, which, of course, were met.

I was there to be the guest speaker — “to offer some pearls of wisdom,” as Ms. Malkemes put it when she made the request — and something occurred to me during that typically weak “Happy Birthday.”

At least half of the group was Hispanic. So, when the song stumbled to its end, I said, “I have a suggestion. Will those of you who can, please sing Happy Birthday to Cindy in Spanish.”

At first, they were hesitant, but when they realized I was serious, they exploded into the most fabulous rendition of “Happy Birthday” I’ve ever heard. It began with enthusiastic hand clapping which continued throughout the song, right to its rousing conclusion.

When it ended, I asked, “Is that how you do Happy Birthday in your culture, with all that hand clapping?”

“Unless we have a pot and a spoon to bang,” one of them said.

May I suggest that along with tacos and quesadillas, we incorporate the Hispanic way of singing “Happy Birthday” into American culture? It’s guaranteed to make any birthday happy.

We also may want to keep pots and spoons on hand.

Ed Ackerman writes The Optimist blog Wednesdays and Fridays. His column, The Optimist, is published every week in Greater Pittston Progress.

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