Mark was known around the office for his plaid shirts. He was a quiet accountant who showed up every day, sat in his cubicle and then went home. But everone recognized him for his many plaid shirts. They called him ‘plaid’ Mark.

Mark, himself, was unsure why he wore plaid, his wife always bought his shirts. He imagined she must just like him in plaid. Being a quiet and generally contented man, he never asked.

Really he didn’t care, and the main reason he didn’t care was because Mark always imagined himself wearing a tight black suit with sequensed flares around black cowboy boots, bright red stripes up the side of each leg, a large, silver belt-buckle, frills coming out each sleeve and the front of his collar, all of it topped of with a large ornamental sombraro.

For the last few years quiet, ‘plaid’ Mark’s dream was to join a mariachi band.

It had started when ‘plaid’ Mark randomly took his wife Betty on a date to a local Mexican resturaunt on a Tuesday night because she’d complained that they never did anything spontaneous. It just so happened that the resturaunt had live music that evening. A mariachi band who was playing lively music near the bar stopped what they were doing when a waiter announced there was a young man present whose birthday it was.

‘Plaid’ Mark watched in delight as the band left their station near the bar and headed over to the young man’s table. One of the trumpet players took off his sombraro and placed it on the little boy’s head, and the band sang a birthday song to the young man, whose name was Peyton. It wasn’t the traditional birthday song, but a fun samba rythm accentuated with occasional shrill vocal calls.

Mark stared on with a beaming smile as he watched. He kept saying to Betty, “Boy, I sure would have loved that when I was a kid! I bet those guys just made his day!” Betty smiled in polite amusement as she looked at Mark. It was ordinary enough… but her husband was simply elated. He sat here shaking his head in wonder as if he couldn’t believe it. “What a great birthday!” He went on, “That kid’ll never forget it! Man, that’s great! Isn’t that great dear?”

Betty smiled at the child-like wonder of her husband,certain that Peyton wasn’t enjoying his birthday song as much as her Mark was. “It’s great dear.” She said.

Suddenly Mark had turned and faced her with a look of excitement as if he’d just come up with a brilliant plan: “I’m gonna tell them it’s out anniversary!” He said, beaming.

“What?! No!” Said Betty.

“Yeah!” Said Mark, “just play along, I bet they’ll sing to us too!”

“Oh!” Betty rolled her eyes, already feeling embarrassed. They continued to watch until the band had finnished serenading Peyton. The trumeteer took his sombraro back from the boy and began walking back to the open space where they had been performing from before. Then, quiet ‘plaid’ Mark who never raised his voice, or drew attention to himself nearly stood in his booth seat and called out: “Hey, today’s our anniversary, do we get a song, too?”

The guitarist nodded firmly at Mark and began plucking a tune which the others picked up and began filling in as they all strolled over with big smiles for Betty and Mark. Mark sat down and stared on expectantly. Betty watched the giddy anticipation of her husband, smiling at his boyish excitement. There was a reason she’d married him. They held hands through he song, and Mark stared at the band with a smile a mile wide on his face.

On the car ride home he kept asking his wife, “Man! Wasn’t that great! Boy that kid sure had some birthday! Imagine what it’d be like to be able to make some kid’s birthday like that! Wasn’t it just great?”

Betty smiled, “It was great, dear.”

Since then, Mark had collected albums and paraphenelia. Betty had gotte him a sombraro and a pair of cowboy boots for his birthday. He even started learning to play the guitar.

They called him ‘Plaid’ Mark at the office because of what he wore. If they could see inside his head, they’d probably call him ‘Mariachi’ Mark instead.