Embattled lawmaker Charlie Rangel, caught up in an ethics investigation, sat alone in The Plaza Hotel ballroom Wednesday, picking woefully at a piece of cake and quietly singing “Happy Birthday to me.”
Rangel reserved the ballroom with the expectation that all of his friends would show for what promised to be the “coolest party ever.”
“Aretha Franklin is going to sing Happy Birthday to me,” Rangel told friends in congress yesterday, “You have to be there – after Aretha sings, we’re going to swing at 80-pound piñatas with ten-foot poles. Then, we’re going to watch a movie, take pictures with Bill Clinton, and everyone is going to get the best goodie bags ever.”
“Ever,” added Rangel.
One by one, Rangel’s guests wiggled their way out of his invitations. Former President Bill Clinton informed Rangel on Monday that he would send a short video-taped message instead. The Queen of Soul claimed to have broken a couple of ribs and backed out of singing in person.
Soon, eight more of Rangel’s friends in the House of Representatives backed out, all claiming that they had agreed to go to a competitive birthday party of 10-year-old Evan Stevens of Reston, Virginia.
Rangel was particularly disappointed when close friend New York Governor David Paterson expressed his regrets.
“You’ve gotta come to my party, David,” said a desperate Rangel as he chased Governor Paterson down the hall, “We’re going to have a cake shaped like the Lincoln Memorial. You love the Lincoln Memorial, and you love lemon cake.”
Paterson apologized and explained that he promised his wife he would attend her colonoscopy Wednesday night.
When the party began Wednesday night, Rangel sat alone in the Plaza ballroom, looking up occasionally whenever he heard a sound similar to an opening door. At one point during the night, he was excited to see a guest arrive, until the guest realized that he was in the wrong ballroom and asked Rangel where he could find the Liebowitz Bar Mitzvah party.
“Are you sure you don’t want to stay at my party instead?” asked Rangel to the tuxedo-clad Liebowitz relative, “We have a punch bowl with toy boats in it!”
Finally, Rangel gave up on the guests and watched the taped messages from Bill Clinton and Aretha Franklin.
“Dear friend, constituent or creditor,” said Clinton via videotape, “I am so proud of you on this wonderful occasion. Keep up the good work and stay happy. We’re pulling for you and we appreciate your support. Love from me and Hill.”
His video was followed by a short video of Franklin singing Happy Birthday.
“Happy Birthday to you,” sang Franklin, “Happy Birthday dear friend, relative, or general acquaintance, Happy Birthday to you.”
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