• Season 2 : Episode 19
  • First aired on March 30, 2006
  • Written by Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky / Directed by Ken Whittingham
  • Recap by James Fan
  • Discuss this episode at The Watercooler, and remember to submit your vote at OfficeTally.
  • Thanks to flotsette for providing a closed captioning transcript.

Threats of terminal illness and birthday celebrations don’t mix well, a lesson that is made all too apparent during this week’s episode. Michael spends the day recounting sad tales from his childhood and subjecting the office to ill-advised festivities in an attempt to make up for lost time. People are hardly in the mood to celebrate, however, as Kevin anxiously awaits potentially grim test results. Meanwhile, a concerned Jim and Pam head out to pick up some things to lift his spirits and end up repairing a few other things along the way.

The Michael Scott School of Hard Knocks

Michael’s birthday isn’t so much a celebration as it is a production of suffocating proportions. Having to resort to clever ploys like the following in order to remind others of your birthday is basically an invitation for disappointment.

Pam [On the phone] : Michael, I have Jan on the line.
Michael : Oh, great. Put her through.
Jan : Hello, Michael.
Michael : Hey, you.
Jan : I’m returning your call. You said it was urgent.
Michael : It is urgent. I just wanted to call and wish you a happy birthday.
Jan : Well, today’s not my birthday, so…
Michael : Really? ‘Cause I thought we had the same birthday.
[A brief moment of silence]
Jan : Happy birthday, Michael.
Michael : Thanks.
Jan : Am I on camera?
Michael : Nope. Totally private. You can say whatever is in your heart.
Jan : [Hangs up]

Such a tease, that Jan. Notice Ryan shaking his head in the foreground. I’d be shaking my head, too.

Dwight Being Dwight

Michael’s birthday might actually be a bigger deal for Dwight than it is for Michael, which is extraordinary given how much admiration Michael has for himself.

Dwight : Why tip someone for a job I’m capable of doing myself? I can deliver food. I can drive a taxi. I can and do cut my own hair. I did, however, tip my urologist, because… I am unable to pulverize my own kidney stones.

This sort of logic is bound to get you into all sorts of trouble.

The Many Faces of Jim

Another week, another skillfully delivered jab from Jim. Michael’s authority, what little of it he has, inevitably takes a dive whenever Jim is around.

Jim : Um, how is this not a pyramid scheme?
Michael : Alright, let me explain again.
[Michael begins to draw a diagram]
Michael : Phil has recruited me and another guy. Now, we are getting three people each. The more people that get involved, the more people who are investing, the more money we’re all gonna make. It’s not a pyramid scheme. It is a–it’s not even a scheme, per se, it’s…
Jim : [Draws a triangle around Michael’s diagram]
Michael : I have to go make a call.

Of all the characters on this show, no one makes better use of the camera than Jim. I’ve started making a habit of looking for him in scenes where he’s been relegated to the background; nine times out of ten something worth watching is happening back there.

Confessions of a Receptionist

The caged bird analogy sees plenty of usage, but I think it’s warranted in Pam’s case.

Pam : If I knew I had a week to live, I would probably go to Europe. And South America. And the Grand Canyon. And I would want to see the Pacific Ocean. It would be a pretty busy week.

A busy week for Pam, and a very sad week for millions of viewers around the world.

The Jim/Pam Index

Michael’s Birthday saw a return to the Jim and Pam of old: loose, relaxed, and taking frivolous potshots at one another.

Jim : So, we got Kev some stuff. Um, party pack of M&Ms, his favorite candy. A DVD of American Pie 2, which is his favorite movie, and he lent it to Creed, so I can guarantee you he won’t get that back.
Pam : 69 Cup of Noodles.
Jim : Which we realize sounds crass, but it is his favorite number.
Pam : And his favorite lunch.

Removing these two from the stuffy confines of the office does seem to bring out the best in them.

Jim : [Pulls fabric softener off the shelf and places it in the cart]
Pam : [Gives Jim a surprised look]
Jim : What?
Pam : You use fabric softener?
Jim : Yeah, you don’t?
Pam : No, I do.
Jim : Ok.  [Laughs]

Brilliant move, Jim. Absolutely brilliant, even if it was inadvertent. Forget deer jerky — fabric softener is the real aphrodisiac.

Pam : [Checks her watch]  We should probably head back.
Jim : Yeah, ok. Oh, I dare you to make an announcement.
Pam : You dare me? How old are you?
Jim : Just quit stalling.
Pam [echoing over the P.A.] : Luke, this is your father. Come set the table for dinner.
Jim : Such a dork.
Pam : Jim Halpert, price check on fabric softener. The kind that–
Rite Aid Attendant : Ma’am, please don’t touch that. That is not a toy.
Pam : I’m sorry. Sorry.
Jim : How old are you?
Pam : I hate you.

Well, I’d say that just about solidified Pam’s desirable status with pretty much every guy on the planet. I don’t see how anyone could resist her after witnessing that little stunt.

Pam : Michael’s birthday was actually pretty cool. It was a good day. I don’t know.  [Fidgets]  It was a good day.

Longtime Office fans will notice the reference to the closing minutes of Diversity Day. Pam’s happiness is lethally contagious, more so than your typical brand of joy. If only she and Jim could see themselves on camera, we’d be all set.

Speaking of Jim, he appears to be recovering nicely. So nicely, in fact, that I’m beginning to wonder if I was horribly off the mark in discounting the possibility of him remaining at the office with a married Pam. I detected nary a hint of anguish or anything even remotely resembling desperation from him throughout this episode. His interactions with Pam were all completely natural, certainly not the type of behavior you’d expect from someone in his difficult position. Then again, he has to get over her sometime; more power to him if he’s able to do it with her standing right in front of him.

Pam, on the other hand, continues to keep this relationship alive, albeit in ways that do not implicate her directly, though I suspect the cameraman would beg to differ. The closer it gets to June 10th, the harder it becomes to hide all those years of pent-up emotions. Go, Pam, go.

Michael’s Birthday rates a solid Up on the JP Index.

Supporting Nod

Definitely, definitely Ryan. He didn’t even have to say a single word.

Dwight : [Holding Michael’s birthday cake]
Angela : Thank you.
Dwight : Oh, I got it.
Angela : What do you–it’s… the party planning committee…
Dwight : This is the most important day of the year. I can’t risk anything.
Angela : Fine.
Dwight : What about that meeting later to discuss finances?
Angela : Yes.
[Dwight and Angela notice Ryan off to the side and begin whispering rather ineffectively to one another]
Angela : But don’t expect any cookie.
Dwight : But what if I’m hungry?
Angela : No cookie.
[Cut to interview]
Ryan : [Stares at the camera, at a complete loss for words]

Awesome doesn’t even begin to describe the quality of this scene.

The Superstar

It may have been Michael’s birthday, but I have to hand it to Pam for resurrecting the hopes of Jim/Pam followers everywhere.

Transmissions from the Office

  • Michael : Ok, calling cards are the wave of the future. These things sell themselves.
    Ryan : Who uses calling cards anymore?
    Michael : You know what, that’s a nice attitude, Ryan. I’m just helping you invest in your future, my friend.
    Oscar : It sounds like a get-rich-quick scheme.
    Michael : Yes! Thank you! You will get rich quick. We all will!

    Another idiom wasted on Michael.

  • Dwight : Birthday hug.
    Michael : No, no, no. No. New suit. Please.
    Dwight : That suit is amazing.
    Michael : Thank you very much. It is from Italy. Actually, no… Bulgaria.
    Dwight : Mm. Maybe I should get one.
    Michael : Good luck. One of a kind.
    Dwight : eBay.

    Watching the two of them raise the roof at the end of this scene ranks as one of the funniest moments on this show.

  • Dwight : Here’s a list of things that Michael would like to be surprised by.
    [Dwight hands the list to Pam]
    Pam : Michael wants a strippergram?
    Michael : Yes, but he doesn’t want to know when or whom.
    Angela : No. This is a closed door meeting.
    [Dwight and Angela glare at one another]

    Dwight and Angela’s secret relationship has all the subtleties of a public one.

  • Toby : Who brought in donuts?
    Michael : Somebody got donuts for my birthday.
    Toby : Happy birthday!
    Michael : You didn’t know it was my birthday.
    Toby : I… guess I forgot.
    Michael : Well, I guess I forgot to give you a donut.
    Toby : You serious?
    Michael : Mm-hmm.

    So much hostility.

  • Oscar : Skin cancer is treatable.
    Kevin : Right.
    Oscar : It’s gonna be ok.
    Angela : You don’t know it’s going to be ok. Don’t give him false hope.
    Kevin : [Looks at Angela]
    Angela : It’s probably nothing, though.

    There’s a heart in there somewhere if you look deep enough.

  • Michael : My birthday blows. Nobody even signed my birthday poster. Apparently my mother is the only one who cares enough to send me anything.
    Dwight : I probably care more than she does.
    Michael : You’re making it worse.  [Points to a poster of James Dean]  I bet Luke Perry’s friends don’t treat him like this.

    Dwight speaks the truth. I honestly believe he cares more about Michael’s birthday than his mother does.

  • Dwight [Speaking to a customer on the phone] : Uh, that’s a list price of $4.50. Unfortunately, this item is on…
    [Dwight’s watch alarm goes off]
    Dwight : Back…  [Checks his watch]  Order.  [Hangs up]  Michael! Michael! Michael, Michael, Michael! Come here, come here, c’mere, c’mere, c’mere, c’mere, c’mere.
    Michael : What?
    Dwight : Listen up, everyone.  [Laughs excitedly]  It is 11:23 exactly. The exact moment when you emerged from your mother’s vaginal canal.

    Notice how Dwight has absolutely no problem ditching his customer mid-call without an explanation. TMI, my friend. TMI.

  • Dwight : Ok, that is not an eight-foot sub.
    Delivery Guy : Uh, we don’t make an eight-foot sub. This is eight one-foot subs.
    Dwight : F.

    Way to whip that foul mouth into shape, Angela.

  • Michael : When I was 16, I was supposed to go out on a date with a girl named Julie. But there was another Michael in the class that she apparently thought the date was with, so she went out with him on my birthday. And she got him a cake at the restaurant, and it wasn’t even his birthday. But I heard about it the next day in school, so… that was the worst birthday I think I ever had.

    The fact that Michael made it through his traumatic childhood is utterly amazing.

  • Dwight : Hey, temp, you know, uh, we still got five feet of sandwich left.
    Ryan : Someone ate three feet of that thing?
    Dwight : Hell, yeah. Save room for ice cream cake.

    My money’s on Creed. He’ll eat anything.

  • Meredith : [Hugs Kevin in an attempt to console him]
    Michael : Hello? What about the birthday boy? Haven’t had a hug all day.
    Angela : No one cares about your birthday. Kevin’s waiting to hear if he has skin cancer.

    Angela was never one to mince words.

  • Toby [Speaking to Kevin] : Honestly, is there any way you can get on your fiancee’s plan? Our health plan is–it’s just–it’s terrible.

    Thanks, Dwight.

  • Michael : Did some research. It turns out that 98% of people with skin cancer fully recover.
    Kevin : Still scary.
    Michael : Yeah, but it’s not brain cancer, and it shouldn’t stop us from having fun. You know what they say the best medicine is.
    Kevin : Well, the doctor said a combination of interferon and dicarbazine.
    Michael : And laughter… also.
    Toby : I don’t really think people are in the laughing mood.
    Michael : Why are you here? I didn’t even invite you to my birthday party.
    Toby : I work here.

    Toby is thinking about slashing those Sebring tires.

  • Dwight : Where have you been? And don’t say the bathroom, ’cause I kicked in all the stalls.
    Jim : Well, that’s an invasion of privacy, so I’m going to tell Michael.
    Dwight : Please don’t.
    Jim : You owe me.

    I bet he learned how to kick down bathroom stalls during his sheriff’s deputy training course.

  • Michael : Yeah, I’ve been pretty much skating my whole life. I thought about playing in the NHL, but you’re on the road so much. Get no time to spend with your wife and kids. And I really want a wife and kids.

    Man, look at him move. Surely, he should be able to score a wife and kids with talent like that.

  • Michael : Hey, Pam. All the stuff with Kevin, um, it’s pretty scary. And I’m thinking that next time you’re in the shower, you should check yourself out. You know, give yourself an exam.  [Makes a suggestive motion around his chest]  Those things are like ticking time bags. Alright? Think about it.
    Pam : [Turns to Jim]
    Jim : Something to think about.

    Uh…. scratch that whole wife and kids thing.

  • Michael : Well, apparently, in the medicine community, negative means good, which makes absolutely no sense. In the real world community, you’d–that would be chaos.

    How Michael made it this far in life without picking up on this is beyond me.

Odds and Ends

  • Michael’s donut operation is almost too sad to watch.
  • Oscar was this close to striking it big in Lillehammer.
  • How fitting it would be for Michael to find love in the show with his wife in real life.
  • What is the deal with Creed?

The Story in Pictures

Gallery Image

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Without a doubt, one of my favorite episodes of the series! Dwight's Speech and especially Take Your Daughter felt flat. The writers hit this one out of the park! Jam was off the charts, too.

1Posted by jay on March 30, 2006

You are all great.This has been the best episode yet. Just started whaching and im really enjoying it. hey, the wrighter for this epison must be rasing the roof and really telling people how funny office can be.Dwight and every one else you guys make me laph.

2Posted by Abigail L. on March 30, 2006

um, yeah...what she said.

3Posted by sssudio on March 30, 2006

Definitely an Up on the JP index. Pam totally fell in love with him this episode. I have absolutely no doubt about it.

4Posted by Jane on March 30, 2006

Creed made me laugh my head off during the 2 seconds he was seen playing the video game.

Michael's description of the medical world vs in the real world was hilarious too.

Looking forward to the recap - go JAM!

5Posted by Sand on March 31, 2006

Best part of the ep...when Michael, in full hockey uniform, checks Toby into the boards. LOL

6Posted by Pat D. on March 31, 2006

Not my favorite episode ever. It seemed like they were trying too hard, almost. The whole 'negative' test-result-joke was in a Seinfeld episode about ten years ago (The Pilot, part 2) when George thinks he has cancer and they tell him the results are negative and he thinks that's a bad thing.
So, I was a bit disappointed.
Loved the JAM scenes, though!

7Posted by pas on March 31, 2006

My hat is off to the writers and cast, for this ep. What is this power you have over us? I can't get enough of this show. So many highlites, where do I start? The jersey "From Dwight", the body check, the birthday doughnuts, the skin cancer (not that cancer is funny, but you all pulled it off), the fabric softener comment, and the best of all...in that supermarket, Pam fell in love. She had a very good day! God I love this show!

8Posted by Jim on March 31, 2006

Ryan's speechless talking head reaction to Dwangela in the break room. GENIUS.

Michael's Livestrong "bracelet."

And JAM...Yay!!

Great episode.

9Posted by Liz on March 31, 2006

Bologna, ketchup, and lettuce party subs.

10Posted by Hoyt Pollard on March 31, 2006

Can I ask a question in here about the Tonight Show? Does anyone know how I can get to see the interview with Jenna. I don't know what happened, but my DVR stopped just before she came out. I would really love to see it. Thanks in advance if any help anyone can give me.

11Posted by Jim on March 31, 2006

I agree with pas. It was funny, but it seemed a bit forced this week. A little too over the top. The Jim/Pam stuff was great, but Michael's petulant actions regarding his birthday were a bit much. We know he's juvenile at times, but this juvenile? I did like the scene at the rink where he was interacting with his real estate agent and her kids...maybe something more will come of this.

12Posted by Roxors on March 31, 2006

Wouldn't that just be like this show to have Steve's character fall in love with his real-life-wife's character??

And how can you say the TYDTWD episode fell flat? I fell flat laughing through most of it. Go watch it again!

As for the Jenna interview, I couldn't find it on youtube.com yet, but keep checking back there. It will show up.

13Posted by superman on March 31, 2006

this is the first time i watched the office on tv (as opposed to dvd/itunes), do they always have those little "the more you know" mini-ads ? if so, i'm sad that i missed out on them all this time, is there anywhere you can view them online?

14Posted by iheartjim on March 31, 2006

i thought the best part of the episode was the part where michael thought the delivery lady was his stripper, or when Angela wouldnt "cook" for dwight, or Dwights announcement that it was the exact moment that michael was born, or....
this was a great episode

15Posted by great scott on March 31, 2006

I recently watched the original Office. Either British humor is lost on me, or the original was a real snoozer. It was good to see a new original US Office this week. Thirty minutes of bliss (sans commercials). When Michael got so excited about the delivery woman he thought was a Strippergram. The fact that he thought that was acceptable in the office was the funniest part. Great ep! JPI can't go this high this fast without taking a hard crash soon, I have a feeling Jim is moving on and Pam might be a little too late.

16Posted by jeremy on March 31, 2006

Hilarious episode.....what was that gift set of cologne called? Sooo hilarious

17Posted by mike on March 31, 2006

hehe the cologne was Night Swept (i originally thought it was "night sweat," but that's what it said on the box), as seen in the "Hot Girl" episode in season 1. it's a knockoff that Michael insisted was a perfect smell-alike of drakkoir noir.

18Posted by iheartjim on March 31, 2006

oops i spelled that wrong, sorry

19Posted by iheartjim on March 31, 2006

Great ep! JPI can't go this high this fast without taking a hard crash soon, I have a feeling Jim is moving on and Pam might be a little too late.

Yeah, I'm thinking something like Pam realizes her feelings for Jim in time to find out Jim is seeing someone else.

20Posted by Mick on March 31, 2006

Ryan's silent to Dwight and Angela's horrifying banter is one of my favorite moments ever on the show.

21Posted by Mo Ryan on March 31, 2006

Thank you Superman, I'll be sure to keep checking.

22Posted by Jim on April 1, 2006

The last moment in the show, with Pam saying she had a good day, I thought "Wow, I NEED to date a Pam."
Soooo great, aw. I think this episode had it all.

Michael / Toby rivalry
Angela / Normal social conventions rivalry
Kelly / Ryan awkward love story

And there was Michael being a complete bastard, and also Michael being completely endearing.

It was very obviously set up. She saw he's good with kids.
And the JPI was through the roof. I can't wait for the next episode, as usual.

Sigh.. we need a one-hour season finale or ELSE.

23Posted by Jay K. Cagatay on April 1, 2006

Yeah, I'm thinking something like Pam realizes her feelings for Jim in time to find out Jim is seeing someone else.
Much as I like the fact that Jim is able to enjoy himself a bit more even with Pam's wedding looming in the not-so-distant future, I really hope the show doesn't go with a storyline as predictable as that. Let's leave the Ross/Rachel plot devices at the door, thank you very much.

I realize that many seem to believe that Jim is in the process of getting over Pam, but I'm of the opinion that he's only in the process of getting better at concealing his emotions. And only because he absolutely has to. Aren't we all just a bit more aware of our own transparency when we have everything to fear and nothing to lose?

24Posted by Irene on April 1, 2006

Speaking of Jim, he appears to be recovering nicely. So nicely, in fact, that I’m beginning to wonder if I was horribly off the mark in discounting the possibility of him remaining at the office with a married Pam.

No James, I don't think you were off the mark; remember that the order in which Office episodes air is not the same as the order in which they are shot, so that JAM continuity is sometimes broken. (I hate that.)

In fact, Maureen Ryan of the Chicago Post mentions in her Feb. 28 blog entry that 'Michael's Birthday' might have originally been scheduled to air on March 2 instead of 'Dwight's Speech.'

So theoretically, the trip to Rite-Aid happened before Jim's decision to go to Australia instead of sticking around for Pam's wedding.

25Posted by tanster on April 2, 2006

Am I the only nerd who looked up Eva Longoria's birthday?

March 15 for any non nerds.

26Posted by Liz on April 2, 2006

Has anyone else noticed the similarity of Dwight and Angela's relationship to the "secret" relationship between Frank Burns and Hotlips Houlihan on M*A*S*H?

Cookie innuendo and all.

27Posted by Jeremy on April 2, 2006

Let's leave the Ross/Rachel plot devices at the door, thank you very much.

I totally agree.

28Posted by Mick on April 3, 2006

*"I detected nary a hint of anguish or anything even remotely resembling desperation from him throughout this episode."*

No, but what about the look he gives her in the drugstore after she accepts his dare to use the mic and he calls her a dork? Not anguish or desperation, but certainly longing...maybe even love? Realizing that his crush is perfect..all while she's still engaged to a Roy. Yuck.

29Posted by Michelle on April 3, 2006

Can somebody please explain the "triangle/pyramid" thing to me that Jim did at the beginning? I did NOT understand that at all.

30Posted by Jaclyn on April 4, 2006

Jaclyn, you do know about the (rip off with the) Pyramid schemes right? Well, Michael was insisting it wasn't a pyramid scheme, and he was just trying to let his employee's get in on the ground floor. So, he drew the chart with one person gets three people and those people get three people, and you start making money. So, Jim picked up the marker and drew a line around the players, and he just walked out, because it was a pyramid. I hope that explains it for you. You have never been approached by an Amway salesman, that's for sure.

31Posted by Jim on April 4, 2006

I love that Michael's birthday is the Ides of March (March 15). I doubt the writers did that on purpose... but I love it nonetheless.

32Posted by Laura on April 4, 2006

what about the look he gives her in the drugstore after she accepts his dare to use the mic and he calls her a dork? Not anguish or desperation, but certainly longing...maybe even love? Realizing that his crush is perfect..

I was going to point that out, and am glad someone else noticed it: the real-meaning translation of Jim's "Such a dork" was "I couldn't possibly love you any more at this moment..." :) So cool.

33Posted by Tracy on April 5, 2006

Jeremy, I URGE you to watch the British offices again. They are the creme de la sitcoms.

I can understand, though, why someone coming from the American version would be weirded out by them. They're much more deliberately paced and the jokes, such as they are, tend to either serve character arcs or refer to Brit cultural references. That said, if you watch it as a 12+ hour drama (with humor being its main tool) instead of a cheeky episodic sitcom, I think you'll enjoy it more. David Brent is a character so PERFECT it kind of hurts my head. All respect to Michael Scott and his Dunderheads but... nothing has been so real on TV as the British office. Tim

34Posted by Johnph on April 7, 2006

I watched a few more episodes of the original Office. The british cultural references are lost on me. Some of their slang runs by too fast for me to catch even a contextual meaning. David Brent is wholly unlikeable to me, yet completely entertaining. I had expectations for each character that the BBC couldn't live up to. Not a bad show at all, but if I only had a half hour to spend, I'd spend it on Michael, Jim, Pam, Dwight, Meredith, and Kevin anyday. Because those are the top six reasons I watch.

35Posted by jeremy on April 10, 2006

How about when Stanley asked Michael if the trip to the skating rink was in any way related to his b-day? Michael's "How dare you, sir. You're gross" had me rolling on the floor! (especially after they cut to the huge b-day banner) Love Steve´s delivery on that line. LOL!!!

36Posted by Ana on August 2, 2006

I know that it seems a little late but I just wanted to point out how funny I think it is that Kevin, the pervet's, favorite number is 69. I didn't even catch it when I saw the episode for the first two or three times but now I did. Love this show! Greatest show ever made!

37Posted by Jeff S on October 4, 2006