grant klein


Lana Del Rey photographed by Steven Klein on May 3, 2017, for V Magazine’s 108th issue, titled “The Americana Issue”.

The Official Guide to Birthday Dinners

Now that my birthday is right around the corner, I thought it was a fitting time to explain why birthday dinners are a terrible, terrible idea.

Birthday Dinner Amnesia Syndrome:
Most people will tell you they hate birthday dinners, and yet, for some god-awful reason, they still decide to have one for themselves every year.  I call this Birthday Dinner Amnesia Syndrome.  This guide will hopefully remind you why Birthday Dinners are a terrible idea, and if you insist on having one, there are a few rules.

Don’t Have Birthday Dinners
If you want to go out to dinner on your birthday, go with your significant other, and then meet everyone at a bar later.  You don’t have a significant other? Well, obviously no one loves you, so why the hell would you have a birthday dinner?

But wait? You said this was a guide!  Really, I should just slap you in the face and tell you that nobody really wants to spend two hours with you.  You might be worth a phone call every once in awhile, but that’s it.  

And that’s the truth. It hurts.  If someone actually wanted to spend time and money and have dinner with you, wouldn’t they have invited you to dinner already?  And yes, I know, you are processing this and weeping at the same time.

Six People or Less
If you must, Six is the golden number.  It’s not because Six sounds like Sex. It’s the fact that six people will keep that bill under control. The food and service will be good, and with six people, you can actually have some type of decent conversation. 

And if you are dining with two other couples, Violá, you will also be able to split the bill in thirds. Easy, Peasy. This makes for a pain-free experience and you even get to tip as you wish, but that should still be 18% you cheap bastard.

Eight people is pushing it, but only do this if you really have eight friends. My guess is you probably don’t really have eight friends.

Let’s make the list. Hypothetically speaking, if there was a zombie apocalypse, and you had to kill all of your friends, pick the six people that you would feel bad about blasting in the face with a shotgun.  There’s your six.

Not a Fancy Restaurant.

I’ve been to all sorts of Birthday Dinners at expensive restaurants with very large birthday parties. And you know what, it’s a fucking nightmare.  Everyone has so much fun until they get that check for $1,500.

Think $20-$30 per person. 

Even your friend working at Subway can save up enough cash in six or seven weeks to pay for his meal.

Ordering Wine for the Table

Want to drink shit-tons of wine? You’re in for it.  Birthday Dinner drinkers are the worst.  They figure they can sneak a few extra glasses on the tab, lost in a sea of people. Those bottles will disappear into the great abyss.  And then when the check comes, ahhhhhh shit. You start to hear slurred statements like, “But I only had ONE glass.” And, “I’m pregnant, I didn’t have any.”  Uh no, you’re not pregnant, you are just a fat bitch.

Better yet, instead of drinking tons of wine, pregame at the restaurant’s bar, or have an 18-pack in the parking lot.  Been there, done that.

Still want to drink wine with your dinner?  You went to Italy once and now all of a sudden you’re a fucking sommelier?  Well, okay here’s the solution. Find a restaurant that has a low corkage fee and BYOW.  It’s super easy. Super cheap, and it cuts the bill in half.  Do I sound cheap? Yes, probably. But you will be thanking me when you’ve watched that asshole you barely know drinking right out of that $85 bottle of Malbec.

The Cheap Bastard

There is always a cheap bastard in the group.

Somehow the Cheap Bastard has no concept of 18% or 20% gratuity being included in the bill already. This is like nuclear physics to him.  He seems to think that he should pay for the service he received. Which means 0% tip, and 0% tax.  Oh, and that Diet Coke and the appetizer he ordered, he totally forgot about paying for that too. Happy Birthday to you!

And if you are really depressed and need a large Birthday Dinner group, the probability of having 2-3 cheap bastards in the group will result in everyone’s meal costing 50% more.  Now you are asking all your guests to literally pay for someone’s dinner.  Way to go. Happy Birthday to them.

Restaurants Hate Them

Oh, you really want your Birthday at [Most Popular Restaurant Right Now] and you have a party of 18 on Saturday at 8pm.  That’s the worst-case scenario for a restaurant.  The chances of the food quality, timing and service being great for your Birthday Dinner… it’s virtually impossible.  And we know you will complain about it.  And everything has to be perfect for your birthday.

And don’t bring a fucking cake.  A decent restaurant usually has a decent dessert, so you are annoying the shit out of everyone involved.  When the poor waiter adds that Cake Service charge for $30.00 on your bill, don’t complain about that either.  You just screwed the restaurant out of money and they had to slice your Vons store-bought cake for you in 32 tiny pieces. Ugh, I’m really starting to hate you.

You Don’t Need to Pay for the Whole Thing
Nope.  Unless you’re Harvey Weinstein, and your shitty third car is an Aston Martin Vantage, no one expects you to shell out for an entire meal. And if for some reason a guest thinks that you should, and didn’t bring any money, they aren’t really a friend and they showed up just to screw you.  Happy Birthday again.  

Bring Cash
Cash is King at Birthday Dinners.  It allows you to get out of that bill unscathed. You never should have to pay $86.00 for Chicken Pasta.   


In closing, don’t have Birthday Dinners. If you do, have them at a cheap casual place with six people or less.

May I suggest Olive Garden or Black Angus.  No, don’t go there. You’ll die from food poisoning. But you know what, if you still want a Birthday Dinner after reading this, maybe you should go die from food poisoning.  Yep, never mind, I just made you a reservation. Olive Garden, party of 23 at 8pm.