It takes forever
A local 80-year-old has broken the record for the amount of time it took someone to blow out their birthday candles. Hal Smithson took five minutes to blow out the candles on his birthday cake at his 80th birthday party this past Saturday in Ithaca, NY.
Celebrating his birthday among his family and friends at his home, Hal received a sheet cake to the tune “Happy Birthday.” The cake had 81 candles on it. Hal closed his eyes for a moment to make his wish, then drew in a big breath and blew it out. But as Hal was trying to blow out his candles he started coughing and only one candle blew out. Hal drew in another breath and tried again. This time he blew two candles out. Three down. 78 to go. Hal slowly but surely repeated this process until every candle was blown out, occasionally taking a quick break to cough. After about a minute of this, some of Hal’s younger grandchildren tried to help him –they wanted some cake– but Hal wouldn’t let them. After about two minutes the candles that were still burning started dripping, decorating the cake with colorful ornaments of wax. By the time Hal had finally blown out all his candles, five minutes after he had started, about half of the people that were in the room had gotten bored and left and no one was interested in eating the cake anymore.
“Your wish doesn’t come true if you don’t blow your candles out yourself,” says Hal. “Back in my day there would be no helping the birthday boy.”
Hal has always insisted that he blow out his own birthday candles and has always been a firm believer that every birthday cake should have as many birthday candles as the age of the person celebrating their birthday plus one for good luck.
“It was harder to blow the candles out this year than last year because my asthma has been acting up recently,” Hal offered as an explanation for why he broke a record this year. He is a man committed to getting his birthday wishes, no matter how long it takes him.
Hal’s family has gotten used to his strict birthday rituals, but this year’s celebration was particularly laborious.
“Some of the little kids were getting antsy for cake because it was taking Dad so long,” says Hal’s daughter Chelsea.
All the children were trying to get a hand on a piece of cake, and they knew the only way they could do that was to get the candles out of it.
“By the time Grandpa was finished blowing out his candles the cake was covered in wax,” complains Charlie, Hal’s 12-year-old grandson. “There was barely any of it that didn’t taste gross.”
Though Hal’s stubborn quirks have ruined a birthday cake, they have also set a new world record.
“I love Grandpa,” says Charlie, “but I wish I had gotten to eat cake.”
Sydney Joyce is a second-year writing major who will cut off birthday wishes if the person is taking too long. Reach them at email@example.com.