"HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEAR GEORGE, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOOOOOOU!!!"
George took in a deep breath and blew out all twenty-three candles. Actually, he was only turning twenty-two, but of course there was one to grow on. His friends laughed heartily for a moment.
"Good one!" Ringo cheered.
"I always knew you had a big mouth," John put in. "Just afraid to use it, that's all."
"Yeah. Besides, it's filled up mostly with your big gleaming choppers!" Paul hooted.
George responded to this by blowing forcefully into his noisemaker and whapping Paul on the cheek with it when it extended.
"C'mon," John said, between bites of chocolate cake. "Open mine first." He handed George a small box, keeping hidden laughter buttoned up inside him. John was up to something, as usual. Last year the old joker had almost given him a heart attack when he gave George a new shirt. When he tried it on, it started to squirt ink all over itself. He didn't know how the shirt did that. But it was disappearing ink. Still, the thought scared George and whenever he saw the shirt, he shivered at the memory of him standing on the porch on his first date with Rose, his shirt squirting all over her new dress. However, she didn't mind, and George knew this because he and Rose were still together.
George carefully opened the box. Inside it was a really weird-looking ring that looked like it was two sizes too big for his finger. George held up the ring. The stone was really pretty. It was a grayish-blue color that shined brightly and gave off a hint of purple. The ring itself was made of silver, and it was very intricately designed.
"Whoa, I thought you'd give me some gag gift like last time," George said. Even though it looked kind of big, he put it on. A few seconds later, he felt something uncomfortably tight on his finger. He looked down. The ring had shrunk! It was squeezing his finger hard. He tried to take it off, but it wouldn't budge.
"Help!" George cried. "It won't come off!"
"Press the stone down," John said between gasps of laughter. "You should have seen that look on your face!"
George pressed the stone down. The ring expanded to where it fit comfortably. John was leaned over backwards across his seat, laughing so hard he didn't make a sound. Most of his laughter came from two previously consumed glasses of scotch. He started to cough, and Ringo slapped him on the back.
"Here's mine," Paul said. "It's nothing that will squirt, shrink, or anything else you could sue me for." Laughter danced in his eyes. "Have fun."
George peeled off the red wrapping paper. Inside it was a box covered in green paper. George took that off. Gold paper. Under that was purple paper, blue paper, and orange paper. Then black. Then white. Paul was biting his lip hard to keep from laughing.
On the next blue-green layer of paper, there was a small note:
"If you've gotten this far, then you're quite desperate. There is nothing in this box of any value."
Finally, after a few more layers, George came to the box. He rampaged through the tissue paper and found the bottom of the box. There was another note written on the bottom.
"HEE HEE HEE!!! If you want your gift SOOOO bad, then look under the stool to your left." George did. There was another note.
"Not yet buddy!!! You want it, you get it. But you got to go to the bar and ask for a glass of apple juice."
"Apple juice?!?" George cried.
"You want the gift, don't you?" Paul said, shrugging and smiling.
"I don't believe this," George muttered, going up to the bar. "Uh...I'd...like...aglassofapplejuice," he finished quickly.
The bartender gave him a look, then handed over the glass on a small napkin. Written on the napkin was:
"Since you are sooooo desperate, why don't you go up on the stage and say 'Hi, I'm George, I'm a Pisces, I enjoy long walks on the beach, and I'm easy'.
"WHAT?!?" George screeched.
Scrawled under the words, in Paul's doctor-like fashion, was:
"You want your gift, don't you? Hmmmm?"
George felt the heat creep up his face. He shuffled onto the stage and said, "Hi, I'm George, I'm a Pisces, I enjoy long walks on the beach...andI'measy.'"
You could hear all the big, tough guys hooting with laughter. George stood there, all but dying.
"Somebody shoot me," he mumbled.
Just then, an article of clothing was hurled at the stage. It landed on George's head. Upon closer inspection, he found that it was a certain article of clothing, an article only women wore, and some very strange men. He took it off his head and the hooting became louder. George blushed madly and rushed off the stage to read the note attached to it.
"Hoo hoo hee hee haa haa!!! That was a good one!! I'm good. I'm real good. Aren't I? All right, there's one last thing you've got to do. Go into the ladies' room and buy one of those things. You know, THOSE THINGS. Be sure to bring some change. You'll find the next clue attached to the one that comes out."
George cursed Paul in his head and said out loud, "I'm going to kill him." He slipped down the hallway, stood outside the bathroom door, very inconspicuous. He made sure the room was empty, then rushed inside. He felt like crying. "This better be a good present," he said as he put in some money. Nothing came out.
"Gah! Stuck!" George hit the side of the machine repeatedly as a lady walked in. She stared for a moment, then hurried out. I can hold it, she thought. A girl ain't safe when there's crazy men in the bathroom banging on the tampon dispensers.
Finally the wretched thing came out. George picked it up, dropped it as if it had been contaminated, then picked it up again gingerly with the tips of his fingers. He unwrapped it, let the thing inside fall to the floor again, and picked it up by the end of the string. On the wrapper, there was this written:
"IF YOU'VE GONE THIS FAR, COME OUT OF THE BATHROOM BACK TO OUR TABLE, THEN ASK ME FOR DIRECTIONS. HEE HEE HEEE!!!!- LUV, PAUL." He had drawn a little smiley face. George ran out, glad to be away from that place.
"NOW what?" George asked through clenched teeth, giving Paul a stony stare.
Paul tried to tell him something, but he just couldn't. He was laughing too hard. Paul fell off his stool and clutched his sides in laughter. The man's face was redder than George's. And that was pretty darn red.
"What he's trying to say is," Ringo said, trying not to end up like Paul, "look in your jacket pocket."
George did. There was a package wrapped in brown paper. Written on it was DID YOU MAKE SURE TO LOOK UNDER THE STOOL? ORDER THE APPLE JUICE? GO ON THE STAGE? CHECK THE BRASSIERE? GO IN THE LADIES' ROOM? THEN YOU CAN OPEN THIS NOW!!!
George ripped open the paper and there was a very nice gold watch. He would have been all set to give Paul what for but soon the birthday boy was laughing as hard as the others.
"I shoulda thoughta that," John said, rather drunkenly.
"Ain't it amazing how everythin' seems so funny when you've chugged three big glasses of beer?" Paul asked, rather hysterically.
"Well, I beat 'cha, I chugged four and a 'alf," John said, almost toppling over onto Ringo.
Ringo just said "Hee," with a silly grin. He had chugged five. He lost his grin and said, "Well, mine's gon' ta be kinda borin' compared ta the others." He dug something out of his pocket. It wasn't even wrapped. It was a keyring, with a key attached.
"Wha?" George asked.
John and Paul looked at each other. They suppressed grins. "C'mon! The parking lot!"
Ringo, the least sober of the three, took George by the hand and led him out. The lad wobbled and shook as he walked, and it was more of George leading him than he leading George. There, in the parking lot, was a brand-spanking new '65 purple Mustang.
"Whoa-hoa-hoa!" George jumped gleefully into the air and hugged all of his friends. He grabbed the keys and ran for it. John stopped him.
"I wan' ta drive," he said. "It's all nice an' shiny and I wan' ta drive 'er." "C'mon, Johnny," George said, "it's my present, and besides, yer stiff drunk. That makes me the designated driver."
"Desin'at'ud dryy'vur nuthin'. I wan' ta." John grabbed the keys back. His grip was strong.
"Let th' boy drive," Paul said to John, more conscious than the rest. "It's 'is car, after all."
"Ahhh, shaddup. I put me life's savin's in' ta that there Mustan' an' I wan' ta drive it. C'mon, Rin'o, back me up, willya?" John turned drowsily to Ringo, who let out a loud belch. He turned back to George. "I res' me case. Lemme drive 'er."
George seemed disgusted. He took a hold of the keys and said, more gently, because he knew that hazards could ensue, "No, Johnny, you're too drunk."
"An' 'ow com' yuh di'nt join us, eh?" John gave George a little push. "Eh?" He pushed him again.
"Lettim drive," Paul pleaded to John.
John just opened the door, got behind the wheel, and said, "Get in the bloody car," while trying to remember which was the gas and which was the brake. George sat down, a bundle of nerves, in the passenger's seat. He buckled himself in extra tight, something John failed to do. Paul stumbled into the backseat after helping Ringo in, who went right to sleep.
"Heeeeeeere we go! Whooo-hooo!" John started the car and floored it. "Listen to 'er purrin'!" The speed limit signs became a blur. Lights whizzed by and George was trying to help.
"Left! Right! Left! Go left! No no no! Left! That's it! Now right! Slow down! Slow down!" he begged. "Slow down!!!"
"Shaddup! I know wha' I'm doin', boy!" John cried.
"I'm not sure the police would agree with that," George said. "Slow down."
"Whaaaaaaa- haaaa!!!" John just made it go faster, if that was possible. Ringo jolted and fell to the side with every turn. Paul was scared, but mostly because he didn't know what was going on. All he knew was that George was screaming and John needed to slow down.
The car swerved into an alley, which John thought an interstate. He let out one last whoop before it was silenced by a brick wall.