Whether we throw ourselves a big bash or begrudgingly attend a "surprise" celebration, the 50th birthday party is a rite of passage, an occasion to reflect, count our blessings and toast to many more happy years to come with our nearest and dearest. The retirement party is an equally poignant landmark, when friends and well-wishers gather to give us a send-off worthy of our years of dedicated service.

Unless the cake reads "Hey Joe...You're Old," or "Thank God Your Leaving" (yes, "your" not "you're." Double whammy.)

Here are 12 examples of mid-life birthday and retirement party cakes gone terribly wrong -- either funny or cruel by intention, or as a result of an unfortunate bakery mistake -- courtesy of our friends at Cake Wrecks. Vote for the most cringe-inducing and hilarious, and let's hope your own landmarks are not so dubiously adorned.

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