Let Me Explain: One year older, just as tired

It was my Sixteen Candles year, except with 22 flaming sticks. Let me explain.

I recently had a birthday. At least, I think I did. My birth certificate says so. My calendar reminded me. My internal clock caused my knees to creak and my vision to worsen when the minutehand struck midnight. Yet, the parade and national holiday festivities I had expected were absent. No barrage of presents blocking my front door. No free strawberry sundae at Sonic. And, most noticeably of all, no direct “Happy Birthday” wishes.

Now, I’m not a greedy girl. (That’s a lie.) I don’t expect much out of people. (Another lie.) And I was perfectly content with the rainy day God sent my way. (There she goes again.) But . Well, but . Come on, now. Your birthday is the one day each year when you get your way, you’re inundated with phone calls and your mailbox is crammed full.

But this year was different. Not a single birthday card. The one phone call I received was from the boyfriend, and that was only because I called him the night before to remind him of the big day.

That morning, my mom stopped folding laundry long enough to look at me quizzically as I stood between her and “Frasier.”

“Well?” I asked.

“Well what?” she responded.

“Isn’t there anything you want to say to me?” I prodded.

“Oh, right,” she said. “Are these your socks or your brother’s?”

Great. That’s just fabulous. The woman was reportedly there for my creation and birth (though I like to believe in the stork adage; it’s the only way I can look my parents in the eyes).

The rest of the day was much of the same. I moped around, sullen and bitter in my sudden old age, and wondered how my friends could be so busy as to have forgotten an important day that occurs but once a year. I would have settled for a quick e-mail, but my Inbox was clogged with SGA mailers and gibberish hacked e-mails.

There were Facebook wall posts on my birthday, but are we counting this now? Do we really believe that because Facebook notifies our Facebook friends (who are, often, merely acquaintances or even less than that) and they spend four seconds typing “Happy Birthday,” that their efforts earn them a pass to another year of friendship?

Hand-holding has become a Facebook relationship, first kisses have turned into cyber sex and love poems are transcribed over text messages. Technology is advancing, but our communication skills are regressing to where nearly all we can handle is the brief contact we have with others in class-and only when forced. But even education and careers can now be conducted online. Do we want to become the individuals who live in their parents’ basements, watching “Maury” and surfing the web, forgetting how to talk to people until we meet Chris Hansen from “Dateline: To Catch a Predator”?

Unplug your computer, turn off your iPod and talk to people. You might learn something. You might make someone happy. You might even-gasp! Dare I go there?-become happy yourself for making the effort.

For me-and perhaps I’m demanding too much-a Facebook wall post doesn’t cut it. Four seconds on the Internet is not a suitable representation of years of friendship, and it doesn’t pay proper tribute to a dear friend’s special day. This is not a little girl’s sob story; I’ve been guilty of taking the easy way out myself.

But in a world of fast food and faster lives, sometimes it’s worth it to slow down and take the time to appreciate a friend. You make the call.