This year, I celebrated my birthday by going through one of life’s most universally hellish experiences: Someone sent me a “happy birthday” text on my birthday after I didn’t wish them a happy birthday on theirs. I am still reeling.
My only New Year’s resolution this year was to text fewer people happy birthday. This was a decision born out of necessity, not cruelty. My “happy birthday” list had grown bloated, swollen with loose acquaintances – a grotesque mix of childhood friends, college roommates, old coworkers, and too many guitar instructors to count.
I thought we could handle it like adults. Apparently, for my old high school lab partner and film club co-president, this wasn’t the case.
Because, instead of following my very pointed lead and avoiding acknowledging my birthday in any way once it rolled around, this person decided to (childishly, and borderline sadistically) send me the following text message:
“Happy birthday!! Hope it’s a good one :)”
It was a low blow, and the havoc it wreaked on my mental state was immeasurable.
I had been backed into a corner.
This was a subtle dig at my character, the implication of her words being that, out of the two of us, she was the better person. It had been like this even when we were co-presidents of the film club. For all I knew, she was slandering my name all across my “happy birthday” network – saying that I couldn’t be relied on in relationships, and that my knowledge of French cinema was pedestrian at best. People tend to project.
I reacted to her text with a heart and immediately began thinking ahead to determine how I could claw my way out of the Boschian hellscape she had trapped me in with her purposefully unreciprocated well wishing.
That’s why when her birthday rolls around next, I’ll wait until she posts somebody else’s birthday Instagram story on her own and then I’ll slide in with a simple “happy birthday!” DM. It’s borderline cold-hearted, I’ll admit, but in terms of salvaging this near-dead relationship while still cutting down on my roster? Perfect.
I set my alarm for midnight on the eve of her birthday next year. Now all there’s left to do is wait – and text 41 other people happy birthday in the meantime.