On The Modern Birthday


My birthday’s tomorrow. But it was also yesterday, and it’s kind of also tonight. Oh, and it was Friday, too. Tomorrow’s the last day, though. I solemnly swear.

I love birthdays — always have, and always will. I don’t love them as much as I used to. With each birthday I somehow seem to be getting another year older, not sure how, though, and as I get older I find that I’m in charge of making sure my birthday is all about me. When you’re little, you don’t realize that making a day (or a week) all about you isn’t a natural occurrence. It’s an effort made for you every year without question.

People might say to you, “You’re birthday’s so soon already!” just because they remember how wasted they got at dinner the year before. If you don’t say, “Let’s go sake bombing,” or, “What should I do for my birthday ?” there’s an increasing chance, with each year, that nothing will happen. Your parents will remember, and your best friends will too, and you’ll get some presents, but it’s not like what it used to be. Whatever happened to goody bags? Ice cream cake?

Let us not be too cynical — I still love birthdays. When I was younger, I wasn’t sure how to make a birthday because I was too busy being a part of it. After years of a Facebook account, months of increased Instagram usage, new (and old) friends, and almost two years of keeping a (fro-yo) diary, I’ve become able to break down what the birthday ‘requires,’ so to speak, once it becomes your own. I do it — you do, too — and it’s what keeps us sane enough to avoid the anxiety of getting older and becoming a real human. If feeling forever young means obsessing over miniature foods, I don’t hate it.

1. Two birthday dinners. One is loud and drunken. You’re surrounded by an overwhelming amount of people who have too many conversations at once, and you can never really tell if everyone’s having a good time or not. There’s lots of wine though, which makes up for basically everything. It doesn’t count if it doesn’t take twenty minutes to figure out how you’re going to split the bill. The other dinner is small and cute with the few peeps you love the most. It’s generally more focused on the quality of the food than the restaurant’s BYOB policy.

2. Birthday texts at midnight. As long as you get one of these, you’re in the clear. It’s kind of sad to get none, but you don’t really need a million, either… just enough to make you effing stoked for tomorrow, which is bound to be the best day, like, ever. Just like how every other birthday you’ve ever had was bound to also be the best day ever. I’d never get mad at a friend for not sending the midnight text, because my birthday is 24 hours long and shit happens.

3. Receive a lot of large packages. A lot of small packages won’t do. Mail won’t really do, either. It’s all about taking a pic of yourself surrounded by large boxes with your flawless birthday hairdo. And then your friend has to post it to social media and be like, “LOOK AT THIS QUEEN. LOOK AT HER.”

4. Keeping a mental list of people you are curious to hear from — or not hear from. Think exes, frenemies, the boy you have an awkward history with, the boy you hope is secretly in love with you, etc. At the end of the day, you must always say to yourself, wow, I’m very surprised that she didn’t call, or can’t believe I didn’t hear from him! Also, people who text instead of Facebook post get brownie points. And people who call… marry them. Just marry them all.

5. Spend an extra twenty minutes getting ready in the morning. When you walk by people throughout the day, they have to compliment you on your appearance (You look so good today!) or wish you a happy birthday (Ohmigod, happy birthday girrrrl!). Obviously though, we’re aiming for both.

6. Be disappointed by something or someone. Otherwise, how do you plan on getting your good birthday cry in? IT’S MY PARTY AND I’LL CRY IF I WANT TO, BITCHES.

7. Someone has to take a beautiful photo of you blowing out your candles, in which you look candid and happy and fun. Then you can Instagram it the next day, and caption it, “Thank you to my fans for the best birthday yet! Couldn’t have done it without all of you!”

8. Birthday collages must be made in your honor. If no one Instagrams you a birthday collage, then is it really your birthday? And if she didn’t only choose pictures in which she looks hot, is she a true friend? We all know that only true friends make Insta collages, and wouldn’t dare make real collages, or, even better, just Instagram a solo shot of you. Because how rude would it be of you to hog your birthday attention all to yourself and deny your friend the right to make herself look good, too?

9. Wear something that informs the peasantry it’s your birthday, such as a crown, tiara, ribbon, sash, perhaps a ball gown, etc. This is only socially acceptable when you go out drinking (see number one re: the “loud and drunken dinner”) because sober people would judge you too much for it.

10. Receive cute miniature desserts. Choose from an array of Baked By Melissa, Momofuku cake truffles, cupcakes in a jar, etc. Everyone needs these because they certify that it is your birthday, and not because the birthday girl will actually eat that much of it. Ugh, I ate half of a BBM (Baked By Melissa)! I’m so full! Someone help me finish this tray of cupcakes that all together weighs less than a slice of pizza!

I’m thinking of making a birthday collage for myself this year. Thoughts? Y/N/M? LMK. THX.

Me at my birthday party in 2002. I peaked as a birthday girl here, I think.

Me at my birthday party in 2002. I peaked as a birthday girl here, I think.

(p.s. You have three and a half hours to prepare your midnight birthday greeting to me. If you don’t send me one, I’m excommunicating you from the kingdom.)

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