Happy Birthday, Mister

The man stretched his neck and long arms, careful not to bump anything in the small trailer. With the day’s filming in the can, the crew had been heading home for the past half hour. He’d dawdled, unsure why. It wasn’t as if he expected a surprise gathering; he’d been careful not to tell a soul about his birthday today. As he’d grown older, birthdays seemed irrelevant in the larger scheme of things. Now that he’d moved solidly into middle-age, the downside of choosing a youth-oriented profession preyed occasionally on his mind, if he were honest. Many of his colleagues were younger. Had he reached this point in his career a little too late?

He shook his head, as if dispersing the thoughts. Adjusting to a new project, new faces, and a new impersonal hotel room, combined with an annual reminder of one’s own mortality would be enough to make anybody maudlin. Rubbing a sore neck, he eyed the small figurine on the kitchenette table, a replica of his character from the last project. A wave of homesickness hit as he fingered it. Yup, definitely getting maudlin.

Briskly packing the script into a backpack, he stepped out into the summer night and headed to the waiting car. Spotting him, the driver turned and nodded. The man found himself reflexively looking around for any loitering fans. A few friendly ones had sought him out around lunch time in the past week or so. After the problems back home, he felt reassured and gratified by the attention. Before the fans had appeared asking for him, none of the puzzled crew knew who his was. Seeing nobody around, he chuckled. Guess I could have used some ego stroking today, he thought.

As the car swung out of the studio grounds towards the hotel, he considered the evening ahead. A hot shower followed by a fancy dinner? A night out on the town? He smiled ruefully. Most likely it would be running in the hotel gym, dining by room service, returning some calls, studying lines, and finally, lights out. If he felt really crazy, he’d open one of the insanely expensive little bottles in the wine bar. Maybe not. After all, it was an regular night like any other.

Still, he found himself noting the empty pavement as he stepped onto the curb. He peered through the doors into the hotel lobby. None of the crew was about. Not a soul, actually. Things looked pretty dead. Maybe he should ask the driver for someplace to go. He turned back, but too late. Hands in his pockets, he watched the car recede into the darkness and sighed. Oh well. That’s that, then. Time to hit the gym.

A few cheers from across the road caught his attention. He looked over to see some men, a few children, but mostly women. A few held up signs. He moved closer to read them: “Another Rubbish Sign,” “Yet Another Rubbish Sign,” “Still Another Rubbish Sign.” The fans! During the week, they’d brought signs, each more ridiculous than the last. Was this a country thing? He grinned from ear to ear. Did he recognise some faces? A little boy he’d met earlier in the week waved a hand while clutching a small toy in the other. The man laughed and the crowd cheered louder.

Suddenly, everybody fell silent. Another sign appeared. It read simply: “Happy Birthday.” From behind it emerged a small brightly coloured plate on which sat a lone cupcake with a single candle. A hand holding a match reached out to light it.

Happy birthday, they shouted.

The man rushed to greet them.

Happy birthday, Richard Armitage. I hope you told somebody.

[Happy birthday, too Elsa!]

45 thoughts on “Happy Birthday, Mister

  1. Here, and I thought when you said, “a certain person’s birthday,” you meant me! 😉

  2. No, I am not wiping a tear. I have something in my eye. I really do wish Mr. Armitage a very happy birthday.  Here is hoping he has a fabulous year.

    Happy Birthday to Elsa too.

  3. Awww!  This sounds so realistic.  Are you sure you aren’t stalking him?  😉  (Of course I’m kidding!)

    Your writing is terrific, I have been meaning to comment before but I have been reading from my phone a lot lately and sometimes it is difficult to comment that way.  Keep up the great writing!

  4. *winks a tear away witha grin* YOU make my day! Three cheers for RA and cake for Judiang! 🙂

  5. OH!  *sniff* That was wonderful!  *knuckles away tears*

    I do so hope he doesn’t spend his birthday alone.



    • *looks at her weepy readers* Am I *still* being too mean to The Man?  I gave him a birthday cake and everything!  😉

      • Oh no!  It was so sweet and wonderful and turned out just the way I wanted it to!

        You’re good … maybe just a tad too good! 😉

  6. Awww… I wonder if that little boy would be willing to share his toy with The Man?  I’m sure he would help him eat the cupcake!   😀

    Happy Birthday Elsa!!!  *waving madly*

  7. Happy Birthday to Rich and Elsa!!!.:D

    PS:first sentence and I’m hooked,thank you Judiang!


  8. To quote Geraldine: “You are good. You are reeaally good!”  A lesson in how to smile past the lump in one’s throat.  🙂

  9. Judit, your writing about Richard is so vivid, that I can only suspect that you ARE actually Richard, who has found a way to connect to his fans, and express his feelings without being bothered LOL! 🙂

    I just love reading your words. There, I’ve said it! Now I’ll shut up on this topic (for now…)

    I really hope someone will show up today, and remind that tall glass of sexy that WE haven’t forgotten it’s ARMITAGE DAY!

    Happy Birthday Richard!

    Happy Armitage Day everyone!


    • LOL!! Wouldn’t THAT be funny! Thanks so much for your kind words. Encouraging words from readers like you help keep the creative juices flowing. I find The Man fascinating to write. Of course, he’s a fictional character based on my own imaginings, but it’s interesting fleshing out how any actor might react to a set of circumstances.

  10. Judiang, apparently you made up your mind and found something nice to write about HIM!! This was a most terriffic read! Hell yeah, I wish him a birthday candle (even a small one will do) a birthday cake (thanks for adding it) and a handful of good company.

    Best wishes for today’s birthday childs. 🙂

    Happy Armitage Day everyone! (as Agzym stated above)

    • Yes, I did it! KathrynGaul asked for something nice to happen to him; this worked out nicely. Glad you enjoyed it Linda. 🙂

      Happy Armitage Day!

  11. Charming narrative! (Not forgotten by his supporters.) Judiang, you forgot the champagne!  🙁

  12. I’m sure someone on the set knew; I hope he got to celebrate his birthday just exactly the way he wanted to. Because we fans are getting that!

    Great post.

    • If they didn’t know before, they know now. Todd Garner saw the flood of birthday wishes on Twitter and added his greeting, so the secret is out. 😉

      Thanks, Serv.

  13. I read your story and began to sob as if somebody had died. Why? It suddenly hit me that I’ll be alone and away from my family next Spring when my birthday comes around. I don’t think I’ll be able to handle it well. Obviously, you are a very good writer. However, you should feel a little guilty and visit my blog. 😉  Thanks for writing such a beautiful story.



  14. judiang – you are a shameless master tearjerker puppeteer! (Had me weeping like a Victorian lady in a fit of vapours  😀  ) 

    Hope his birthday was just lovely, champagne or not!

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