Douglas Whaley. Law professor, gay rights advocate, atheist, heart transplant recipient, actor, director, novelist, playwright, bridge player, husband, father, cat owner, storyteller. Much humor and, since the writer is a teacher, advice on many topics.
“That Goddamn Song!” David Vargo Turns 60 and Does It Right
The Birthday Boy at 60
husband, David Vargo, has always been a talented man, much admired in the acting community, a terrific graphic designer, and the winner of multiple awards for various things (trophies
fill our house).It was therefore a
major shock for him to realize that in 2017, like it or not, he
was going to turn 60 on December 22.SIXTY!YIKES!A HORROR STORY!
than that, in 2013 he had married into a chosen family that has rituals for Big
Birthdays like this, and such momentous occasions do not pass quietly into the
night but are instead celebrated with traditional major public happenings.Oh, no!NO, NO, NO!!!
of these rituals, in which David, alas, has participated a couple of times over
the last five years of our marriage as one of the singers, is the rendition of the “Big Birthday” song,
about which I have often commented on in this blog.It was written years ago by myself and my son
Clayton (and rewritten a number of times since), and is used for those
birthdays ending in a zero.It has wicked
lyrics.Here they are (insert celebrant's name chorus at the end):
[Click To Enlarge]
I turned sixty this song was sung to me at a major fete.Here is the video of the end of that august
occasion, where the festivities were led by Arthur Greenbaum and Thomas Jeffire
in front of alcoholically-encouraged friends who sang it lustily; https://youtu.be/jRC07WKzt7Y.
January of 2017, when poor aging David, a young 59, could see this all coming a
mere eleven months away, he muttered in a low but determined voice, “I don’t want to hear that Goddamn Song!”I was—how shall I put this?—nonplussed at
this startling sentence, and perhaps he noticed my poorly disguised hurt.Two days later, in a conciliatory mood and
with a soft loving voice, David cooed to me, “You know I was kidding,
right?I really do want to have ‘Big
Birthday’ performed for my 60th this coming December.”Uh huh.David immediately added, as a joke, “Of course I want it sung in four
solution was clear.I have been writing
songs since I was a boy (and I produced a record album—yes a real vinyl 12” LP
record—in 1977 of my comic songs, called “Strange Songs”).Thus all I had to do was write a new version
of “Big Birthday” for David’s 60th and get our chosen family to
perform it for him.Piece of cake.
Lorri and David at Party
December David had begun to embrace his coming birthday with enthusiasm, and
decided to go whole hog.He and my
chosen sister, Lorri Latek (Goddess of Parties), went hunting for a suitable
venue, and ended by selecting an elegant private room (the Wine Cellar) at The
Refectory, the premier high-end restaurant in Columbus, for the date of the
actual birthday: December 22, 2017.A
multi-course meal would be served, and the fancy invitations explained that
formal wear was expected, which had the men in tuxedos and the women in evening gowns!David arranged for a
violinist to play, and videographers to record the whole event.The lovely place settings had a wine glass each with the guest’s name engraved thereon.It was a major birthday celebration, as these photos demonstrate:
Lorri, David, and Pamela Maggied
was in charge of the entertainment, and I told David that we were indeed going
to sing the traditional “Big Birthday” song and then perform a skit.That was a misdirection.
mid-December I gathered our chosen family together, handed out the sheet music,
and we rehearsed a new version of “Big Birthday,” now called “That Goddamn
Song.”It begins with the same first line
as the original song, but then is interrupted by me with new lyrics and melody
before it morphs into a bawler’s version of “Big Birthday” with some notes sung
in four party harmony (or, as Arthur Greenbaum speculated, more than four
parts, depending on the singer’s amount of consumed alcohol, enthusiasm, and
musical imagination).Here is the video
of that sterling performance: https://youtu.be/n193N3NVOGg.
in the end David Vargo turned 60 in a grand style, surrounded by people who
love him very much, secure in the knowledge that when it came to this “senior” milestone
he surmounted it with an evening to remember forever.