Flavor of Week: How To Say Happy Birthday

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MILEY'S SWEET 16 Ñ Miley Cyrus will celebrate her ÒSweet 16Ó during a once-in-a-lifetime birthday bash at Disneyland in California this fall.  ÒMileyÕs Sweet 16 Ð Share The CelebrationÓ will be an unforgettable event for Miley and her fans that also will serve to recognize Youth Service America and help drive awareness of the need for youth volunteerism.  The Hollywood-style bash is planned for Sunday, Oct. 5, from 6 to 11 p.m., with ticket sales limited to 5,000 fans.  Tickets, priced at $250, go on sale at 9 a.m. PDT, Saturday, Aug. 30, at www.disneyparks.com/miley.   (Scott Brinegar/Disneyland)

Today, my little brother turned seventeen. This is a big deal. He can drive and now has an age-specific magazine to which he can properly relate in times of need, like a long distance BFF.

I felt pure enjoyment from reading the posts on his Facebook timeline. A lot of people wrote, “happy birthday bro,” which made me feel like a proud older sister–“bro” is probably the male equivalent of the female “babe,” meaning guys who have man-crushes on my little brother have written on his wall and yes, after all these years, he is a well-liked chap.

Writing on someone’s “timeline” for his or her birthday is the perfect thing to do when you have a man-crush/girl crush (as aforementioned), or even just a general crush (to whom you don an extra !! at the end of your birthday wish. Maybe he’ll notice me now!!!!!). Before Facebook, happy birthday’s were said the old fashioned way, like when passing someone in the hall even if you weren’t super tight.

But Facebook has added a new dimension to the birthday: it’s kind of like receiving a million cards; it gives you something extra with which you can measure how great your birthday was; it gives certain people no excuse not to say happy birthday because of how easy it can be to just say it, thereby allowing you to use your birthday as a way to gauge the legitimacy some of your relationships. (Then again, should we really be gauging the legitimacy of our relationships based on a Facebook wall post, or lack thereof?)

I’ve spent whole birthdays waiting to see if a few specific characters, let’s call them, reach out to me. And then the birthday is over, and they either haven’t reached out or they have. At this point, I can either pat myself on the back and be like, “you’re definitely the bigger person here,” or I can pout and hope they send a regretful text the next day, which they usually do.

I am intrigued by the way we use Facebook to extend warmest wishes on the anniversary of one’s birth. There is nothing greater than birthday collages, or when you see wall posts from one best friend to another even though they’ve obviously been speaking since the clock struck midnight. Still, we love the extra gift, free of monetary cost, yet with invaluable social cost, that Facebook gives us each year.

That all being said, I rarely use Facebook to convey birthday wishes.

It’s great for girl-crushes, it’s great for people whose phone numbers I don’t have but wish I did, and in my eyes, that’s about it. The last Facebook photo collage I made was for my best guy friend and included photos of us making strange faces on a camel in Israel. In that case, it was, as they say, irresistablé.

My most important question as of recent: Is it better to make a wall post, or to not say “happy birthday” at all?

There are pros and cons to each type of birthday wish, from Hallmark card in the mail to Instagram comment to text to phone call to Facebook message (yes, it holds a different weight than a Facebook wall post). “Happy birthday” isn’t really about wishing someone another year of beautiful life, preferably processed with VSCOcam C1 filter. It isn’t even really about what you say–well, unless you’re giving me extra exclamation points or a <3 or a “babe”. It’s about how you say it.

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On Can I Have Yo Numba?

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I could win an award for walking around New York with resting bitch face. So last summer, when an attractive gentleman came up to me on the corner of West 33rd and 6th asking where I got the Starbucks cup I was holding — well, really asking where I got the cup and what was inside of it — I was shocked. Could I, a 5-foot-4 Godzilla wearing leather boots in the city heat blasting acoustic Nirvana through my cheap earbuds, be so approachable? I knew he was hitting on me because there’s a Starbucks on every block in Midtown Manhattan and he didn’t give off touristy vibes. If I was holding a Mason jar with a blended green concoction inside, I would have understood his inquiry. But I was holding the symbol for commercial America in my right hand and my iPhone in my left, so it seemed to be that it had to be true — he was interested. I pulled out my earbuds, and told him I got my iced coffee on 27th, but there was another Starbucks just a block thataway.

Before I walked back into the 5:06pm rush, he pivoted a step in my direction. “I know this sounds crazy, but is there any chance you want to get dinner with me tonight?” I had dinner plans with the person I was seeing at the time, so I politely declined his offer and told him I was booked. “Well, can I have your number, then?” I had no intentions of hooking up with him, but without a second thought, and actually without a first thought, too, I gave the guy my digits.

I walked away feeling exhilarated. It was one of the things that only happens in movies or happens to people with Cara Delevigne eyebrows. It wasn’t that I was going to pursue it, and I didn’t even think or know if he would text me. It served as a late-afternoon espresso shot of ego boost.

A few hours later, I get a text. “Hey, it’s blahblahblah. Are you around to grab a drink tomorrow?” I never answered. I didn’t want to for various reasons: I had a boyfriend and I didn’t know anything about this person. We’re so used to meeting people through mutual friends on Facebook, or mutual friends from school, or from family friends, or from summer camp ten years ago that we’ve never learned how to court and be courted by people we don’t know. It seems scary and dangerous to me to be alone with someone who I have no mutual friends with — on Facebook and in real life. But back in the day, I guess that’s how things worked.

Like the good nerd I am, I told my parents about my Sex and the City moment and the text that followed. They weren’t proud of me, nor did they praise me for my eyebrows. They each broke out into seizure, explaining that now I was surely doomed for this person would surely find my longitudinal and latitudinal coordinates now that he had my cell phone number, and I was surely going to be stalked and kidnapped and murdered.

“Do you know how powerful technology is today?!?!?!?” my dad yelled. Yes, Dad, I know about technology.

The thing is, though, that they were right. But when you meet someone random and decide you want to meet them again, how else are you supposed to go about it? There’s no time to stop and pause for a quick Google search and background check when you’re standing in the vortex that is Midtown.

Two months later, I was walking in Providence when a man — five years too old for me, walking three dogs on leashes — walked up to me while I was on my way to the gym. “I know this sounds crazy,” he said, “but you’re one of the cutest girls I’ve ever seen and I was wondering if I could have your number.” More abrupt and less attractive than the last. I froze with Mom and Dad’s wishes in mind. How are you supposed to tell someone that you don’t want them to have your number? Do you say no and walk away?

Well, I did. Or I guess I kind of did. Three male friends of mine who I didn’t see standing across the street saw me from the distance, sensed my discomfort, and called me over. My response to this strange pursuer ended up along the lines of: [To friends] “Hey guys!!!!!!!!!!!” [To strange man] “Sorry, I’ve gotta go!” And I ran away before he could get in another word.

I felt like an asshole. When I told my best friend the story, she confirmed that, yes, I was an asshole.

But if you don’t want to say no, and you don’t want to say yes, what do you say?

Looking for suggestions to answer the question, “Can I have yo numba?” in sticky situations. However, the likelihood of this ever happening again is slim. Love at first sight tends to be a twice in a lifetime thing. So take your time with getting back to me — I doubt I’ll ever need the advice, anyway.

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On Stalking Techniques (Seriously)

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Because who doesn't get a little 'American Psycho' every now and then?

Because who doesn’t get a little ‘American Psycho’ every now and then?

A couple of weeks ago, I #tbt-ed on a Sunday by talking about the long lost – but not forgotten – AOL Instant Messenger. Messaging instantly still exists, and in many forms, but the medium that resonates most with my Lisa Frank-loving fifth grade soul is Facebook messenger. Instead of having ‘buddies,’ you have friends, and your friends are neatly piled on the side, just like they once were on your buddy list. You can talk to someone in a small window while voraciously Facebook-stalking their boyfriend in a larger one. So apparently, it seems, the overall losses are slim.

I’ve adjusted to Facebook messenger very well. So well, in fact, that I’ve come to utilize it as a stalking tool. Not a Facebook-stalking tool. Just a stalking tool. Mhmm!

I would like to disclose a couple of things with you: Firstly, do not freak out. I can’t stalk eeeeverybody with it, just with people in my, ahem, ~innermost~ circle. Secondly, I am going to tell you how to stalk using Facebook messenger, if you don’t know already, so if you are still freaking out that I am a weirdo then stop freaking out. I was with a friend last week who explained to me how she uses a combo of Facebook and Snapchat to stalk people, and it’s a lot more complicated/impressive/creepy than you’d think. So I could be worse.

We should start off by putting ourselves in a theoretical situation that incites the need to stalk. Stalking someone need not entail physical following nor pinpointing the exact location of your stalkee. Often (or for me, at least), it simply involves a lingering paranoia and an unanswered question — has he read that text?

Here is our situation: Let’s say I have a boyfriend, and my boyfriend and I got into a small, yet overdramatic argument last night. After belligerently sending him iMessages in such high volumes that legally encourage a restraining order, I received no response. It is now 11am the following morning, there is still no response, and I am very much like, “WTF is going on?”

We know he hasn’t answered my texts (fine, I called him four times, too), but we don’t really know why. Now – trumpets, please – we move to Facebook. Facebook chat used to be really annoying when it falsely told you people were online when they were really on their phones. I would get messages when I didn’t want to get them, and I would send messages when people didn’t want to receive them. Soon, Facebook made a distinction between ‘mobile’ and ‘web’ users, which alleviated this chronic social pain and increased my stalking capabilities.

Back to our situation – if he’s online, but ‘mobile,’ he must have seen my texts because he’s clearly on his phone. If he’s online, but ‘web,’ then it’s a 50/50. He could have lost his phone, which wouldn’t surprise me, or he slept in and checked Facebook before checking his texts. But he’s definitely home, so I know where to locate him if I need to show up at his house without asking and force him into conversation, or something like that.

He could be completely offline, but he’s probably not. No one’s ever ‘fully’ offline.

For the third option…Ah, the little grey cell phone. As a certain Will Ferrell character once said, “Nobody knows what it means, but it’s provocative. It gets the people going.” Will Ferrell knows me too well. Because when you think about it, no one knows exactly what the little grey cell phone next to people’s names means, but I, for one, really get going from it.

I think the cell phone tells me the last time my boyfriend was online. He may have not been online since the wee hours of the morning, which means he ignored me, went out with his friends, and is still sleeping but could just be waiting to talk to me until he has a clear mind. But LOL, right? But if he was online in the regular morning, and not just the wee hours of it, then I’m screwed. I don’t know what medium he used to sign onto Facebook with, and I don’t know where he is. I might be boyfriend-less and not even know it. Because not only did he ignore me last night, but he slept on it, and he checked Facebook this morning, and still has no desire to talk to a gem like me.

At this point, I have to put on all black, try not to let my shoulders get all knotted up the way they always do when I’m stressed, and constantly worry about what the next 24 hours of my life will be like. Of course, usually he will text me, we will kiss and make up, have a good conversation, and, in the end, I’ve played myself in a wretched mind game.

Oh, and for girls? They’re much easier to stalk. If they don’t answer you within two hours, they hate you, and that’s about it.

Ed. note: You all probably assume that this all happened last night or something like that but I promise you it didn’t, it’s simply based on the seventy other times this did actually happen.