Posted by: itneverrainsinseattle | July 30, 2011

High School, Facebook, and This is Embarrassing

I know I’ve commented several times in the past about how my life often strikes me as a sitcom.

(Like my Getting Stuck in an Elevator in New York City at quarter ’til Midnight on New Year’s Eve story, or that time one year ago when I killed my laptop, or how I managed to accidentally slit my wrist, etc.)

Today’s story is sitcom plot number 16: Sending the Irretrievable Message That Must Be Retrieved. You know the one. The irretrievable message in television sitcoms is usually delivered to an answering machine (or voicemail or text message to a phone), via a letter, or by way of a third-party messenger who cannot be intercepted. This is a favorite plot of Cheers and Frasier, Friends and Seinfeld, MASH and Three’s Company. Hijinks ensue when the protagonist tries to retrieve the message.

In today’s modern twist… I can’t retrieve the message, because it went out via Facebook.

Here’s the story:

A couple of high school friends have been on my mind recently, for very different reasons. These were two of my very best friends during high school, who later cut off contact with me altogether (again, for very different reasons). Now I realize that high school was a long, long time ago, and there’s a lot to be said for leaving the past to the past. Still, because they were important to me during a crucial time in my life, I still occasionally feel the phantom limb sensation that a severed relationship can sometimes leave behind. It doesn’t happen often these days, but it does, from time to time.

So imagine my surprise when, yesterday, one of these old, dear friends from my past accepted a Facebook friend request that I’d sent, oh, about a year ago.

My smartphone alerted me that my friend request was accepted, and when I saw the name, I logged on to see what I could see. It turns out, this was (as I’d suspected a year ago when I sent the friend request) not my friend’s “real” Facebook account. I had seen his real Facebook page once, a long time ago, filled with tons of pictures and likes and all the rest. This page showed fourteen friends, ten of whom he had just accepted. One of whom was his brother, who had told me (over dinner, about a year ago) the sad tale of how my friend had cut himself off from everybody — family, friends, mutual acquaintances — had gotten a divorce, and pretty much disappeared from the life he once knew.

This was when I dug around and stumbled upon his “real”, well-hidden Facebook page. When I later noticed he was listed as a FB friend on his brother’s page, I sent a friend request. Which brings us to yesterday, when I saw that this particular FB page is empty. No wall posts. Almost nobody linked as a friend. No real information or photos or anything to speak of. Clearly, this is a holding pen.

That’s fine. I briefly considered whether I should put him on a list of FB friends who only get to see a limited version of my FB page. I don’t currently make such distinctions, my thought being that if I wouldn’t want the public to know about it, I wouldn’t put it on FB. Which, btw, is why there’s no mention of this blog on my FB page. But what do I do about someone who clearly isn’t comfortable letting me know anything about his current life, when my FB page is pretty open about what I’m up to?

I decided to let it be, for the time being. I don’t know the real reasons for why he cut me (and the rest of his family and friends) out of his life, nor why now he decides to let me into a contained, isolated ante chamber on Facebook. Still, he was a good friend and made a positive difference in my life, once upon a time, and if he should come back, I will happily resume the conversation.

Okay, that’s not the sitcom part. But you can see where my head was at when another proverbial shoe dropped today. Also on Facebook.

This is another dear friend, also from high school. She had such a significant impact on how I look at the world that there are very few stories about my life that don’t ultimately come back to her, in some fashion. Here’s how important she is: I haven’t even mentioned her directly on these pages before. She’s part of the bedrock; she’s assumed. She was my fiercest rival and my most trusted ally. She has one of the keenest minds I’ve ever met, is intellectually honest (and demanded nothing less from me), has a wicked sense of humor, but also suffered greatly from depression.

I’ve toyed many times with the idea of telling you a little bit about her here in my secret little corner of the blogosphere. But that would take this blog well beyond the end of my marriage and the building of my new life, and into the bigger picture of the Story of My Life.

Oh, and today is her birthday.

Facebook reminded me.

I logged on to FB to see some pics that my sister had posted of my oldest son visiting with my niece and nephew, and there it was in the upper right-hand corner: “Today is Pearl’s birthday! Wish her a happy birthday.”

Pearl had stopped responding to me long before I saw her on FB, but I’d sent her a friend request to see what would happen (this was a couple of years ago) and she eventually accepted it, but there’s been no other give or take since.

So I clicked on the link to her page, and noted that several others had wished her a Happy Birthday. I decided, rather than posting to her wall, I’d send her a direct message.

When you click on Messages, you also see all of the previous messages to and from. There was one. From me, to her: “Sorry I missed your birthday, but here’s a wish for a happy belated!”

Yep. From last year.

I suspect I know why she is not currently acknowledging me, but it really is only a guess. In my happy birthday message to her, my goal was to say, essentially: Look, whatever the reason is that we’re not currently talking, just know that everything’s cool on my end, and I really do wish you a happy birthday, and all the best in the future.

Of course, writing it like that sounds fine enough, but keep in mind, I’ve had the better part of today to think about how I should have worded it. I did what I always do as a writer, I started by writing. It’s easier to re-write something that’s written than it is to write something perfectly out of the gate. So, my first quick stab at it came out like this:

I  apologize for whatever I did, didn’t do, represent, or am that causes me to not fit well into your current life, but I do hope it’s all going well.

No, no, no. That is awful. Besides, I’m not really apologizing, because I have no idea what, if anything, I did. (I don’t really think it’s that simple, anyway.) So, change apologize to I’m sorry, which is true:

I am sorry for whatever I did, didn’t do, represent, or am that causes me to not fit well into your current life, but I do hope it’s all going well.

Bleh. Still sucks. It sounds all… pathetic and sad. I know. I’ll say I realize I don’t fit into her current life right now, but still, I wish her the best, etc., and so let’s delete that and re-type…

Wait. No. I hit delete. Why did you send? I HIT DELETE!!!

Crap. It sent it. There it is, in all its pathetic glory. Okay, if I hover over it, can I see an “x” to delete it, like with a Wall post? No?


Okay, this is the part of the sitcom where the protagonist thinks up some wacky scheme for breaking into the recipient’s house to retrieve the message and delete it before she can see it. Which would be fine, if she weren’t over a thousand miles away, if I had her exact address, if I knew how to pick locks and could bluff my way into their building, if I could get there before she logs onto her computer, if nobody is home when I get there, if they don’t have an alarm system, if…

Or, maybe, I just write a follow-up note. Because, hey, how could I make it any worse, right?

Okay, I realize that’s just begging for trouble. “We can’t get out of this situation with the same thinking that got us into this situation,” and all that. But, I’m a writer. Let’s see if I can write my way out of the mess I’ve created.

Here’s what I came up with. Keep in mind that this will show up immediately below that stupid sentence that was posted by mistake. What do you think?

Annnnnd, just as I was clicking to delete that and write something less pathetic, Facebook decided to post it anyway. Let’s try again:I realize that I don’t fit well into your current life, but I hope it’s going well. (See? Less pathetic, right?) It’s obvious from the few comments posted here on your FB page that you’ve made a very positive impact on several people’s lives, which is a testament to how good you are.

Someday down the line, we’ll talk again; there’s much to catch up on. The burning question in my mind these days is how to make the world a better place, because it sure does seem to be heading in the wrong direction, and I’m not sure what one person can do to help make it better. But there’s got to be something, right?

Until then, I genuinely wish you the best… and no, I’m not as morose as that first draft makes me sound!

Neener, neener.


As for the “burning question,” that’s all true. This is a natural part of the ongoing conversation Pearl and I have been having going back all the way to the beginning. Will the conversation ever resume? Who knows? But I count myself fortunate that I can have this conversation with you, gentle reader.
Hmmm… wonder if I should re-read this and revise, or just post it as-is….


  1. NO….don’t re-write. It’s perfect that way it is.

    I enjoy your blog. Just discovered it a few months back and have enjoyed reading back through all of it.


  2. Inris, your note wasn’t really a big deal. Don’t sweat it.

  3. I agree with IntrigueMe. I wouldn’t worry about what you sent her. I appears that she means something to you and anyone would feel honored to be thought of in such high regard.

    But I TOTALLY know how you feel! I have friends like that too… that I’d love to reconnect with. We’ll see if life brings them back around to me.

  4. I remember when you used to write about real problems. Now you have the luxury (and the time) to stress over something like this? Congratulations!!
    I’d say you are officially “on the other side” now.

  5. I know you’ve heard the phrase “You can’t go home again”? Touching base with high school friends illustrates the truth of that statement like no other I know. Every reconnection I’ve had with high school friends has ended badly, for we aren’t the naive and more tolerant teens we once were. It only confirms to me that I made the right decision never to attend reunions.

    Before you go there, it’s also a real bad idea to attempt to reconnect with old girlfriends. That relationship ended for a reason, and they still remember everything you ever did that made them angry at you.

  6. Ugh!!! I’d be so frustrated too, even though to the outside world it doesn’t feel like that big a deal, when you were really deliberately trying to write something normal, and then felt it wasn’t right and wanted to delete it, then couldn’t, well yeah, I would totally feel the OMG that was embarrassing moment. Hope writing this out helped shake it off. Onwards my friend!

  7. the wonder (?) of modern technology… sigh…

  8. Looks like things have fallen off the table. Here it is almost October, and nothing since the end of July. Here’s hoping all’s well in Seattle.

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