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Home --> Love --> Love Betrayed --> Birthday Suited

Birthday Suited

Legend:   A married man accompanies his attractive secretary to her apartment one evening. When the secretary coyly disappears into her bedroom, the man, certain that an opportunity for sex is about to present itself, quickly prepares by removing his clothes. A few moments later the secretary emerges from her bedroom, accompanied by the man's co-workers and family — to spring a surprise birthday party on him.

Examples:

[Elgart, 1953]

The boss of a medium-sized office hired a steno who was out of this world. She had looks, personality and clothes. After looking at her for a few weeks, the boss, a married man, decided that he was going to take her out some night. He approached her and asked if she would like to celebrate his birthday with him at some secluded night spot. She said she would have to think about it.

The next day she consented to go, but offered they go to her apartment. To himself, as any other normal man would have commented, "Better than I planned."

The night of his birthday they went to her apartment and had cocktails, appetizers, dinner, and some drinks. After a short time she said: "I'm going to my bedroom, honey, and you can come in five minutes." After five minutes were up the boss disrobed. He knocked on the bedroom door. The voice from behind the door in a sweet tone said, "Come in." A twist of the doorknob and the door swung open — only to find the rest of the office force singing "HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!"
 

[Ann Landers, 1976]

I woke up feeling a little depressed because it was my birthday and I thought, "another year older," but decided to make the best of it. So I showered and shaved, knowing when I went down to breakfast my wife would greet me with a big kiss and say "Happy birthday, dear."

All smiles, I went into breakfast and there sat my wife reading the newspaper as usual. She didn't say one word. So I got myself a cup of coffee and thought to myself, "Oh well, she just forgot." The kids will be down in a few minutes all cheery, and they will sing Happy Birthday and have a nice gift for me.

There Cartoon of the legend I sat, enjoying my coffee, and I waited. Finally the kids came running in, yelling, "Give me a slice of toast! I'm late! And where is my coat! I'm going to miss the bus!" Feeling more depressed than ever I left for the office.

When I walked into the office my secretary greeted me with a nice smile and a "Happy birthday, Boss," and said, "I'll get you some coffee." Her remembering made me feel a lot better.

Later in the morning my secretary knocked on my office door and said, "Since it's your birthday, why don't we have lunch together?" Thinking it would make me feel better I said, "That's a good idea."

So we locked up the office and since it was my birthday I said, "Why don't we drive out of town and have lunch in the country instead of going to the usual place?" So we drove out of town and went to a little out-of-the-way place and had a couple of martinis and a nice lunch, and started driving back to town when my secretary said, "Why don't we go by my place, and I'll fix you another martini?"

It sounded like a good idea since we didn't have anything to do in the office anyway. So we went to her apartment and she fixed us both a martini and after a while she said, "If you will excuse me, I think I'll slip into something more comfortable," and she left the room. In six minutes she opened her bedroom door and came out carrying a big birthday cake, and following her was my wife and all my kids, and there I sat with nothing on but my socks."

Variations:
  • In one variation of this legend the main characters are an employee and the female co-worker he (repeatedly) asks out on a date, rather than a secretary and her boss.
  • The get-together between the boss and his secretary to celebrate his birthday is sometimes suggested by the boss himself.
  • Some versions of this legend end with the firing of the secretary.
Origins:   The examples given represent one of two common versions of the "Surprise Party" tale: a legend in which sexual misbehavior is accidentally discovered (and "punished") during the course of a well-intentioned surprise. (The other version features a young couple caught cavorting in the nude by the surprisers hidden in the living room.)

This legend dates to at least the 1920s and in this case involves a subject who places himself in a compromising situation by mistrusting his wife's memory, misjudging his secretary's compliancy, and overestimating his own sexual attractiveness. The subject's egregious
errors in judgment, combined with his readiness to engage in socially unacceptable sexual behavior (i.e., adultery), lead directly to his humiliation in front of family and co-workers.

Many versions (such as the second one cited above) soften the theme of a moral transgressor's receiving his just deserts by portraying the man as a sympathetic figure who is somewhat justified in his behavior: he has reached an important milestone in his life (such as a 50th birthday) and is feeling low, yet everyone he cares about has seemingly forgotten him. His embarrassment at the end seems more a sad misfortune than a punishment.

Other versions omit the boss' feelings of melancholy and set him up as a lecherous adulterer who gets his comeuppance for inappropriately inviting his gorgeous young secretary out on a date. Yet another variant presents the humiliating surprise as having been deliberately arranged by the secretary to get back at a persistent co-worker who fails to amend his behavior even after his romantic overtures have been repeatedly rebuffed.

Sightings:   An episode of television's L.A. Law ("Leapin' Lizards," original air date 28 April 1988) features Arnold Becker stripping in anticipation of a lovely lady's promised birthday surprise, only to be greeted by his gathered co-workers once the lights are snapped on.

Last updated:   1 July 2007

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  Sources Sources:
    Brunvand, Jan Harold.   Too Good To Be True.
    New York: W. W. Norton, 1999.   ISBN 0-393-04734-2   (pp. 32-33).

    Brunvand, Jan Harold.   The Vanishing Hitchhiker.
    New York: W. W. Norton, 1981.   ISBN 0-393-95169-3   (pp. 140-143).

    Dundes, Alan and Carl Pagter.   Urban Folklore from the Paperwork Empire.
    Austin: American Folklore Society, 1975.   ISBN 0-292-78502-X   (pp. 97-99).

    Elgart, J.M.   More Over Sexteen.
    New York: Grayson Publishing, 1953   (p. 50).

    Jansen, William Hugh.   "The Surpriser Surprised: A Modern Legend."
    Folklore Forum.   Vol. 6; 1973   (pp. 1-24).

    Landers, Ann.   "Dear Ann."
    28 June 1976   [syndicated column].

  Sources Also told in:
    The Big Book of Urban Legends.
    New York: Paradox Press, 1994.   ISBN 1-56389-165-4   (p. 116).