The Eighth Page

Phillipian Satire: Teaching Fellow Whispers Happy Birthday to Self Alone in Faculty Apartment

Huddling over a Carvel ice cream cake in his dimly lit faculty apartment, 22-year-old math teaching fellow Markham Anderson was seen quietly singing happy birthday to himself last Tuesday, sources say.

“One year older,” whispered Anderson before he croaked out the celebratory tune in tones of contemplation and melancholy, the only human in his sparsely decorated living-room-dining-room-kitchen area, furnished with a desk lamp, futon, unhung photographs, and shopping list taped to the wall.

Witnesses also spoke of a birthday card “from Mr. Anderson’s mom, with a $100 bill inside,” laid on the ground alongside a stack of ungraded precalculus tests.

Anderson reportedly sang the whole song start to finish, including a barely audible “cha-cha-cha” and sigh at the end of every line.

“Mr. Anderson ate half the cake,” said an observer, “then he set it down on the ground, walked over to the window and looked out of it for a while, walked back and finished it off. After that, he threw his dishes in the sink and cradled his head in his hands before splashing cold water on his face. Then he said, ‘And now, the Stevie Wonder version,’ and stood there blinking for a while.

“At that point, one of the kids from the dorm knocked on his door and asked him for a day excuse. ‘Going off campus to have dinner with your friends?’ Mr. Anderson asked, kind of sadly. After the student left, Mr. Anderson muttered something about his math degree from MIT and started grading tests.”

At press time, sources reported additionally that they had seen Mr. Anderson checking his Facebook newsfeed later in the evening, presumably to see if any of the other teaching fellow friends had wished him happy birthday.