It was my birthday earlier this month. I turned 32. It was fairly memorable, for a couple of reasons.
One, I had over 70 friends wish me a happy birthday on Facebook. Seventy! Not to brag, but I'm popular on there.
My friends anticipated my birthday as much as I did. It was really sweet -- they logged on to Facebook a few minutes before the clock struck midnight on the day of my birthday. They refreshed the site at 11:57 p.m., 11:58 p.m., 11:59 p.m. Then, at 12 a.m., in the upper right hand corner of their home page, four magical words appeared: "Shane's birthday is today." And the birthday wishes started flowing onto my wall.
I don't know for certain that this is what happened, but it's my birthday and I'll lie if I want to.
My one birthday wish every year is for all of my friends on Facebook to wish me a happy birthday on my wall. For whatever reason, their acknowledgement of my big day on my wall is important to me. I don't have an explanation for it.
Of course, I've set an unrealistic goal for myself, but I do expect a healthy number of friends to send along their birthday wishes. How many, exactly? To answer that question, I divide the total number of friends I have by two, then add seven. I use similar formulas to determine the minimum age of women I can date, and the maximum number of hours of Big Bang Theory reruns I should watch per week.
I can always count on my most distant Facebook friends to wish me a happy birthday on my wall. It's why I'm friends with them in the first place: so they can pad the total number of birthday posts on my wall. And I do the same for them. The relationship is strictly quid pro quo.
Oddly enough, it's my closest friends who let me down by not leaving birthday wishes on my wall. They tend to send me a private message instead. That's no good, because it won't help me reach my "birthday wishes on my wall" quota.
Some of them bypass Facebook altogether and call me. They tell me, "I hope you have a great day, you deserve all the happiness in the world, let's celebrate soon." And I think to myself, That's nice, but couldn't you have said all of this on my wall, where it would have counted for something? I want the Facebook friends who I don't care about to see that I have real-life friends who care about me.
The other reason why my latest birthday was memorable -- though not in a positive way -- was that it provided another opportunity for my family to remind me that I'm not married. "You're 32...it's time you met someone." Their watches are set to GMT: "Get Married Time."
Time is ticking, I understand that. I'm not getting any younger, etc., etc. I have actually discussed these concerns with a few of my closest friends, who aren't nearly as panicked as my parents are about my single status. Their response was, "I wouldn't worry. I know guys way worse than you who've gotten married."
What a relief it is to know that there are men in this world who are less desirable than I am. I ought to use that fact as a selling point for myself. "Why wouldn't you date me? Do you want to be one of those women who's stuck with a guy who's way worse than I am? Why hitch your wagon to a below-average man when you can be with an average man?"
I watched The Hunger Games on DVD a little while ago, and it had me thinking, This is what my parents would want. This is what the parents of all single, 30- and 40-something-year-olds would want. An event that would punish all men and women who did not marry within the first 10 years after college.
Let's call it The Bachelor Games. Each year, the names of all single men and women between the ages of 32 and 48 are entered into a lottery. The older a person is, the more entries he or she has in the drawing. A man and woman from each state are selected and forced into a televised game of survival, the sole winner of which is permitted to stay single for the rest of his or her life. I can think of at least five networks that would air this.
Or, using the Katniss-Peeta relationship in The Hunger Games as inspiration, the event could have the contestants from each state work as a team. They could look after each other, defend one another from enemies, treat each other's wounds, and ultimately (if all goes according to the parents' plan) fall in love. It could all culminate in an After The Bachelor Games TV special and wedding.
My family wouldn't be opposed to watching me participate in a Bachelor Games and put my life at risk, if there was the slightest possibility that I might tie the knot at the end of it. I can imagine them hugging me as I board the train to the Games, exclaiming, "May the odds of getting married be ever in your favor!"
If I were to win a hypothetical Bachelor Games and marry on live TV, it would undoubtedly be a very exciting time for them. And, I admit, for me, too. I'd get to update my relationship status, and I'd expect at least 70 Facebook friends to wish me a happy marriage on my wall.