Recently, I discovered it was a friend’s birthday- via Facebook, of course, which, sadly, is where I get a majority of my information these days. I opted to send Misty a text rather than post on her wall. How this is better, I’m not sure. What I really wanted to do was mail her a card, but it was too late for that.
I sent a text that said, “Happy Birthday! I hope your day is as fabulous as you are.”
It rang hollow to me even as I hit send. Because Misty is fabulous. She’s the kind of fabulous who will always send YOU a card, which will arrive on time, regardless of the weather.
My lame-ass text was not even a Hallmark. More like something from the 99-cent section of greeting cards next to the tampons in the grocery store.
Then I looked at her Facebook page and discovered that three other people had posted that exact same message on her wall!
I sent another text: “I take it back. I hope your birthday rocks balls.”
She gave me credit for sentiment, but marked me down a point for lack of originality. Which got me to thinking, how many ways are there to say Happy Birthday?
I’m a chronic birthday forgetter.
Facebook giving me a reminder and the opportunity to write “Happy Birthday!!” on someone’s wall lets me do fully 100% more to observe that birthday than I would have otherwise.
The problem is that I want to be more than that, and I’m not.
If you see a friend in-person on their birthday, you simply say, “Happy Birthday!” No need to be witty. If you have a gift, it’s even better, but not necessary. Sending a card or a gift across the miles brings joy, if you remember to do it.
Facebook reminds us of the birthdays of close friends, relatives, and acquaintances. We feel an obligation to observe all the birthdays that pop up in our sidebar, regardless of the closeness of the relationship.
You find yourself wishing happy birthday to someone with whom the only thing you have in common is the the same second grade teacher, or the job at the car wash that summer before sophomore year, or the fact that you both shut down the same bar every night for six months before one of you went into rehab and the other one didn’t notice.
Is it possible to send pithy, heartfelt, electronic birthday greetings?
Happy Birthday!! Are you bringing cake to work?
Thanks for letting me copy your math homework in 4th grade. Happy Birthday!!
When I quit that horrid place we worked at together, I swore I’d never speak to anyone from there again. Happy Birthday!!
I hang out with you only to steal your Altoids. Happy Birthday!!
I have no idea who you are. Happy Birthday!!
I’m the one who ran over your cat. Happy Birthday!!
Your parents pay me to be your friend. Happy Birthday!!
#1’s spring break this year happened to coincide with my birthday and she was coming back for a visit. She mentioned she had a birthday surprise for me…
And that she had to go to five different places before finding one that would accommodate her wishes…
And that she told my mom about it and my mom was appalled…
I must confess, I never saw it coming, and I’m so damn proud of her for pulling this off.
See, this Christmas, #1 wasn’t able to make it back to New Jersey. We packed up a trunk with a gift for her to open each day in December leading up to Christmas. My favorite gift of all was a very… special… picture of Jack that I framed and wrapped. I couldn’t imagine that this gift could be topped, ever.
That’s because I failed to imagine the photo topping a cake.
Every place she went to get it made had refused, saying that the photo violated their corporate policies on decency. When she went to the last place, she handed them the picture upside down because, as she says, “Upside down, it kind of looks like a ferret, so they thought it was a ferret and then we both signed off on it before they figured out that it wasn’t a ferret.”
I’ve looked at this picture- and at the subject in real life- a lot, and I don’t see a ferret.
Finally, with this photo of a cake with a photo on it, I have my pithy, heartfelt electronic birthday wish for everyone’s Facebook wall.
Now, where do we put the candle?