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Birthdays: We all have them, but what do they mean? Are they a chance to take stock of lessons learned on your time on this Earth? To reflect on one’s own mortality? To receive a Starbucks gift card from your aunt? This year as my anniversary of life draws near, I wonder, is it really my birthday if don’t throw a big celebration and surround myself with loose acquaintances who don’t give one single shit about me?

For as long as I can remember, this very time-honored custom of spending time with the people who feel the most indifferently about me has been how I ring in the latest year of my life, and I can’t imagine where I’d be without it.

Spending my birthday with people I don’t care about and who do not care about me all started when I was a child. In first grade, my mom threw me a birthday party and invited every kid in my class. Seated at the center of the table, I watched in awe as classmates who had never spoken to me sang Happy Birthday; their little voices all came together and recited those special words specifically and obligatorily for me. When they kind of mumbled the name portion of the song, I felt so full and so empty all at once.

Twenty years later, I’m happy to say this tradition lives on!

Of course, as I’ve come into adulthood and really learned who I am, certain elements of this celebration have changed. For instance, my big birthday party now takes place in a bar, and instead of classmates I invite coworkers, friends from college, people I vocally dislike, and even the friends of people I vocally dislike just to sort of fill out the space!

Nothing makes me know that it definitely is, in fact, my birthday like seeing my ex’s roommate walk past with beer in hand and give me a half nod as if to say, “Kind of weird that you invited me to this, but also weird that I actually showed up, so instead of unpacking any of that let’s just continue upholding the unspoken contract to perform these unfulfilling social rituals.”

I love this!

So this year as I prepare for my annual birthday bash, I look forward to agonizing over what I’m going to wear for hours, then spending a night surrounded by virtual strangers who never think about me on a day that isn’t today, all while talking to the same two friends I talk to all the time and hoping that my crush who I invited at the last minute will show up (they won’t!). Happy birthday to me!

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Witnesses confirm that cool skater girl Izzy Brooks was momentarily mistaken for a loser skater boy while skating through Washington Square Park last Thursday.

Brooks, who wears her hair short and was donning an androgynous outfit at the time, left some thinking she was just another miscreant, aging man-child as she whizzed by on her board.

However, sighs of relief and appreciation could be heard as lookers-on realized she was, in fact, a seriously cool young woman.

“I was having my lunch in the park when she skated by,” said one witness, Lucia Steele. “At first glance, I was totally irritated, cause as far as I’m concerned, skaters are all certified fuck boys.”

But a mere split second later, Steele’s attitude transformed as Brooks turned a corner and revealed she had been a cool-as-fuck and admirable woman skater the whole time.

“What an incredible reveal,” Steele said. “Just like that, she went from someone I would never swipe right on to someone way too cool to ever swipe right on me.”

Additional witnesses agreed that everything about Brooks from her reckless skating to her big pants initially struck them as tired and unappealing, until they realized she was a woman and consequently one of the coolest people they would see that day.

“At first I was like, this lame skater boy really has a dagger stick and poke on his arm? Give me a break,” said Roseanna Reese. “But then I was like wow, this sick-ass skater girl has a dagger stick and poke and it looks absolutely incredible. I want one.”

When asked about the perception whiplash she caused in the park, Brooks reported that such reactions are a common occurrence.

“Learning how to skate as a young girl was extra hard because the scene was so male-dominated,” said Brooks. “And the culture still has a long way to go in terms of inclusivity. But, yeah, I guess I have the advantage of being seen as much cooler than my male counterparts by most women.”

“And honestly?” Brooks continued. “I’ll take it.”

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In an unfortunate development this evening, 29-year-old Valerie Higgins has texted her friend group to say, “Sorry y’all, slight change of plans!” hours before they intended to meet for a group outing.

The group understands that this can only mean one thing: The night is ruined.

“She’s bringing a new boyfriend for sure,” says Lauren Appel, friend of Valerie’s. “Either that, or she’s going to suggest we meet at like, midnight now instead of 7 like we planned.”

“No one ever says ‘slight change of plans’ and then actually proposes a good idea,” chimed in Valerie’s friend, Angel Bennett. “They only say it to soften the punch of announcing that they can’t pick us up or that someone has pneumonia.”

Though the cynicism may seem severe, past events do unfortunately validate their concerns: Of the six times in the past year Valerie has proposed a “slight change of plans”, each has resulted in what all sources present unanimously named an “unmitigated disaster of an evening”.

“There was the ‘slight change of plans’ where Valerie asked us to meet her at a bar an hour and a half outside of town, rather than the one down the street we had all originally planned on,” says Lauren. “We wound up getting lost outside of Cincinnati and never even getting to the bar.”

“And then there was the time her ‘slight change of plans’ involved trying molly for the first time on Claire’s birthday rather than just going out for drinks like Claire wanted,” adds Angel. “Claire doesn’t hang out with us anymore after that.”

As the situation currently stands, the friends are left in an anxious limbo between finding out Valerie has a slight change of plans, and finding out in exactly which way their night has been ruined.

“It’s like a Schrodinger’s Cat thing,” says Valerie’s co-worker, Yvonne Hudgens. “Until we see that follow-up text we can’t really know for sure if our night is ruined or not. But I’m telling you, that cat is dead.”

Amongst the friends, speculation runs rampant as to what Valerie could have in mind. Suggested possibilities range from her trying to merge two difficult friend groups tonight, to her inexplicably trying to get them all CPR certified – both of which have happened in the past, according to the group.

“I really just want to get dinner,” says Angel.

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Smart, modern women know to buy beauty products in brown bottles and blindly hope they’re made of natural ingredients.

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Smart, modern women know to buy beauty products in brown bottles and blindly hope they’re made of natural ingredients.

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Despite a consistent record of rejecting all social invitations from friends and acquaintances, Santa Barbara resident Isabella Morris has been feeling incredibly excluded as of late Thursday night.

“It just sucks to feel like I’m not wanted places,” said Morris who absolutely never goes anywhere she is invited.

The catalyzing event transpired last week when Morris saw through Instagram stories that a group of people she sort of knows was having a board game night that she was not asked to join.

“I couldn’t believe my eyes,” said Morris. “I mean Sabrina was hosting! Doesn’t she remember that we’ve hung out at least a handful of times over the last few years?”

“She’s always invited me to her parties,” Morris continued. “So why not this board game night?”

“I invite Isabella to all my parties, and she never comes,” said Sabrina Peters. “So I didn’t even think to invite her to this. I just never see her anywhere. Honestly, I kind of thought she moved.”

Morris, who has not moved, now believes that her exclusion from the game night was just one component of a larger pattern of social alienation.

“Even my best friends exclude me!” said Morris. “Just the other day my roommate went to get drinks with her boyfriend and didn’t invite me.”

“I mean, she said ‘do you want to come?’” Morris continued. “But that’s not really the same as formally inviting me. She only gave me, like, two hours notice.”

When Morris’s friends heard word of her hurt feelings, they were less than sympathetic.

“Excluded? Isabella never goes anywhere,” said Jada Shorn. “She seems to hate parties, bars, the beach, homes that are more than ten minutes away from her, clubs, museums, most people.”

“We’re best friends and I was honestly pleasantly surprised when she showed up at my birthday dinner last month,” added Shorn.

However, Morris remains steadfast in her position that people are actively icing her from their plans.

“I guess everyone just decided that they hate me and that I should never be allowed anywhere,” said Morris. “I would really love to know what I did to deserve this treatment.”

At press time, Morris received a text from Peters inviting her to another board game night the following week.

“Oh fuck,” said Morris. “Yeah, I really don’t want to go to that.”

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