Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Birthday Acquaintances

Da na na na na na, you say it's your birthday. Da na na na na na, time to see how much people like you.

And no, that wasn't bad grammar. I didn't mean how many people like you, as quantified by the number of Facebook birthday messages you receive. I mean that your birthday is a great way of annually checking in on how your friends, acquaintances, relatives and miscellaneous people in your life really feel about you.

So here are your birthday wishes, ranked, because who doesn't like arbitrarily ranking things? While I'm at it, I will also include points. One of my favorite pastimes is accumulating "rewards" points, even if I don't really understand why they are being awarded in the first place. If you start giving me points, I'm going to get excited for no real reason. (I'm looking at you Waze and your crazy, completely unnecessary yet totally addictive points system).
I loooooove cake... always have
1. In the flesh
An in-person birthday greeting takes the cake, literally. In person wishes are the best, possibly because they can also come with cake, or leave with cake... but there is only cake involved when you are there, live and in person. You can give hugs and sing songs. It's great. But let's face it, you won't get to see everyone you love on their birthday, and by that same logic, everyone that loves you won't be able to see you in person on your birthday. Irrespective of the logistics, the in-person birthday wishes win. 10 points.

2. Hall-mark the occasion
An actual card, purchased, mailed and arriving on time for the big day is next. I sometimes get cards out to our family members to show them how much we love them. In my world, nothing says 'I love you but didn't remember until today' like a postmark with your actual birthday. For those with the foresight to get to the store, the post office, and leave more than a week for travel time, you get the silver medal for birthday greetings. 9 points.

3. Phoning it in
A phone call and a song round out the top three. Oh sure, you can call someone and not sing, but if you are taking the time to call and risking the possibility of them picking up (don't worry too much: 85% of all birthday calls are sent straight to voicemail*), you might as well sing. My husband and I actually pride ourselves on our birthday duets that we bestow upon a lucky few friends and family members. There's harmony. There are impromptu key changes. It's magical. A birthday phone call is the third best way to not only say Happy Birthday, but also let that person know you really really like them. 8 points.

4. Textual healing
Texts can be wordier than they used to be. With the advent of the over-140 character text, the text message surpassed emailing as the next best way to wish someone happy birthday. It signifies you have someone's phone number, which is usually harder to procure than an email address. A text also acknowledges that you don't have enough to say that you need to send an email. It is the perfect format for those who like to keep it brief (not me). Personally, I think the best birthday texts write out the whole birthday song, cake/balloon/trumpet thing with confetti emojis optional. 7 points.

5. You've got mail
An e-mail follows close behind in terms of showing how much you care about the birthday boy or girl. It's still personal, like a phone call, and it's a bit roomier than a text. The email gives me more space for rambling on and on about how great you are, how much you mean to me, how I love that we've been friends for so long and that I hope we'll be friends forever. But I acknowledge that I can do my rambling via text these days, so unfortunately email, your relevance here is fading. 6 points.

6. You likes me, you really likes me
Social media has a subdivision of rankings, because let's face it, not all Instagram/Facebook/Twitter wishes are created equal. Topping the list is a photo or photo collage (you overachiever, you!) with a personal message. Not only have I taken the time to find a photo of us, in many cases I had to scan or re-photograph that photo in order to use it. I may have even used an Instagram filter. Look out. And then, like icing on this birthday cake, I crafted a witty, often punny birthday wish which somehow relates to the throwback photo in question. The more likes, the better this birthday wish. 5 points.

7. The masses
Facebook is more public, less personal, and let's face it, comes with a reminder. Quality is sacrificed for quantity, but who among us hasn't basked in the birthday glow of multiple "Happy Birthdays!" littering up our Facebook page. I use Facebook to subsidize the rest of this list. So while I have been known to make fun of wishing your spouse a happy birthday on Facebook (because you most likely already had an in-person wish that day), I now realize that it helps remind others and bump their numbers, which makes them feel special, which is the whole point of the birthday after all. Plus it feels weird to ignore a birthday on Facebook just because I've already left a voicemail or sent a text.
I like to spice up my Facebook messages a bit. I include the person's name, because hey, why not. It's written right there in the reminder. Might as well. And when the moment strikes me, I might even throw in a: "hope you have a great day!" In my mind that's me really going the extra mile. 4 points.

8. GFY (Go F@#k Yourself)
Hey, I get it, we're all busy these days. But I don't care how busy or important you are; none of your friends deserve the ridiculousness that is "HBD" or "HB" instead of taking the extra three seconds to write out the full words Happy Birthday. I am not sure what to say about our relationship that it has dissolved to this state. The D doesn't even make sense for Christ's sake! The only people I expect an HB from are the people that I'm not sure exactly how we're social media friends anyway or the friends of friends that really don't need to take the time to wish me, so they are somewhat excused for doing the ABSOLUTE LEAST they possibly could. But if you and I are good friends and you hit me with an HB, guess what? We are clearly not really good friends. I don't think I am a demanding friend by demanding the extra seconds from your day for you to include: appy irthday... It is my damn birthday after all. 2.5 points-yes, not even a full three because you can't even spare a full three seconds for me you bastard.

9. Thinking of you
Warm thoughts sent through the universe are nice on any day. I have friends whom I am no longer in contact with, but for whom I somehow still remember their birthday. The first boy I ever had a crush on in grade school's birthday was the day after Valentine's Day. I think of him once a year and then get right back to eating all my daughter's chocolate. 2 points.

10. Oops I did it again
Thinking of it and then forgetting to do any of the above things is 10th, because if you've ever done that you realize: it should count for something dammit. 1 point.

Any of these wishes done a day late still count, they just get downgraded by one. Obviously there is a penalty for being belated, but points should still be awarded.

I have watched friendships downgrade through the years from in-person nights out to phone calls to texts and then to Facebook only. It is OK. I have come to accept that as our lives get busier, the higher points on this list are harder to get. But as you craft your Facebook message to your bestie from college, try to throw in a little sumthin sumthin to let her know she's still quite special to you and you hope she'll never become an "HBD" friend.

*90% of all of my statistics are made up... including this one

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