Natalie Has Sent You an Evite!

According to the Chinese calendar, this is the year of the Green Wooden Chicken. But what do the Chinese know anyways? Well, actually a lot, according to Thomas Friedman. In his new book, The World is Flat (like Selma Blair's chest), he reveals that the Chinese are rocking out at being the best country in the whole wide world while we lag behind because we're too damn busy getting gastric bypass surgery and giving Pamela Anderson her own sitcom. About a bookstore. Called Stacked. Is homegirl even literate?

Oh wait, she writes a column for Jane. I forgot.

Anyhow, I digress. Even if it is the year of the Green Wooden Chicken, I think it's also the year of the Birthday Party.

Every weekend, without fail, since graduating from college I've attended someone's birthday party. I've been to more twenty-third birthdays than the members of Metallica have collectively been to rehab. Seems that recent grads, desperate to hang on to the 106 closest friends they had in school, are giving "staying in touch" the old college try.

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And it all begins with the Evite.

Cindy and Bridgett have sent you and Evite! Josh has sent you an Evite! Evites are so cool! And fun! How psyched are you?? How psyched are you to be using words like "psyched!" This is going to be the best birthday ever.

Evites are perfect for showcasing the theme of your party. If you want all of your friends to know just how sophisticated and cosmopolitan you are, be sure to choose a cartoon with sexy long-limbed singles drinking pink cocktails and winking at one another. You know, the ones whose graphics are jacked from the sleazy Lava Life ads you see on the 6 train? If you're a degenerate gambler thanks to such hits as "Celebrity Poker Showdown" there's an Evite to match your newly debt-ridden lifestyle! If you're celebrating the release of Mariah Carey's latest album The Emancipation of Mimi, fear not, there's an Evite for you too.

Once the Evite has been carefully selected and sent out, the fun begins. This is the part when you sit back and wait for your friends to come up with witty comments about whether or not they will be attending your party. None of these hilarious tidbits will actually mean anything to any of your other guests, but don't worry—they're not supposed to. Your friends are responding with clever inside jokes to indicate just how close you guys really are. After all, you have been best friends since you met three weeks ago at work.

When a week goes by and no one has replied except "the organizer," Evite sends reminder emails to whip invitees into shape. That's much cooler than badgering people with questions like "are you coming to my party? Huh? Huh?"

Soon, everyone begins posting fun messages:

"Totally there! Remember being so drunk at MY birthday that you got down on your hands and knees and licked salt off the floor and showed Brad from the office your tits? Is Brad gonna be there too?"

Except for the twelve people that took advantage of the "maybe" option. What they really mean to say is, "Yes, I am that asshole, telling you that I might come if all my plans fall through and there is nothing good On Demand. Happy Birthday. Love ya. Mean it."

When the actual party rolls around, it is at one of three lower east side staples: People's Lounge, Essex Lounge or Pioneer Bar. These locales are fratastic fantasies, filled with guys in striped button-downs hoping to score with one of the hotties wearing a black tube top and Seven jeans. Birthday parties are the best place to look for love. Take it from me.

Now who wants a shot of So-Co and lime? Ohmygod! They're playing "Livin' on a Prayer"!

Just this past weekend, I attended such a bash. After sucking down several drinks, my friend and I did a "lap" around the bar area. We saw many familiar faces—yet, most of those faces looked a hell of a lot worse than they did in college.

"Damn," she whispered to me, "a lot of these people have really let themselves go."

I nodded with the vigor of a bobblehead doll.

Soon, we came across another college acquaintance who now 'hos herself out on Wall Street. After exchanging the normal amount of pleasantries, I asked her how she was enjoying her job.

"I love it. I really do. Most people hate being bankers but not me. I love the hours. I love spreadsheets. I love being completely replaceable and having bosses that refer to me as 'Analyst 7' instead of using my real name."

I nodded politely. Soon she vomited on her shoes and had to be escorted out of the club as she blurted something that sounded like "Happy Birthday" to "the organizer."

After 2 more "laps" and several more very drunk bankers, my friend and I decided to call it a night. In the cab on the way home I thought about all the birthday parties I attended this year. How, like techno music, they all felt the same and gave me a headache.

But I also realized that there's something oddly comforting about them, that the weekly birthday party ritual is really a valiant attempt at recreating a little part of college. It's also nice seeing those familiar faces, not having to face strangers in bars, and knowing that the rest of my peers are out there too, surviving and doing a pretty good job. It actually makes me feel sort of proud.

Plus, I hope everyone comes to my birthday. I'm sending out the Evite next week. It's going to have a picture of a green wooden chicken.


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