How to Look Happy
the meltdowns? What about Jake falling off the play gym halfway through the party, which gave rise to a panicky half hour when Christine fretted over whether or not they should take him to the emergency room? Or what about when Sadie knocked Ethan’s soda out of his hand in the middle of the kitchen, and it ricocheted off the table, floor, and cabinets and all over Eleanor’s shoes? That took another twenty minutes to clean up.
    Nope, Facebook and Instagram aren’t about recording life’s messes. They’re revisionist history. And that’s probably OK.
    But it’s just one more memo I guess I never received.
    *  *  *
    Twenty minutes later I’m still scrolling, lost down the rabbit hole of my news feed. I’m in Facebook now, and I’ve just finished a BuzzFeed quiz— Who’s your ’80s sitcom doppelgänger? (It’s D.J. Tanner, by the way)—and my second glass of prosecco when a notification pops up at the top of my phone screen. It’s a friend request.
    I click, and then I sputter a little as a bit of my bubbly drink finds its way down the wrong pipe. Are you freaking kidding me?
    Immediately I text not Carrie, but Allison Swearingen, my high school best friend. Allison and I don’t talk a whole lot these days, but of everybody I know, she’s the one who’ll be most interested in this news.
    OMG. U will never guess who just friended me on FB.
    She texts back within five minutes, and while waiting, I skim my prospective new friend’s profile, which, it turns out, is public.
    OK, I’ll bite. Cole Harmon??
    At this I chortle so loud I startle myself—the sound is loud in my house, which is so quiet I can hear myself breathing. I lean forward on the couch to grab the TV remote, and in the process my foot slips off the coffee table and I almost drop the computer from my lap. I catch it just in time and flick on the TV, which goes automatically to HGTV—a channel I have a love-hate relationship with. I’m obsessed with it, honestly, but it’s also infuriating as a designer because it gives people unrealistic expectations. In the real world, you can’t produce a finished family room from scratch in one weekend on a shoestring budget, at least not unless you have a crew of woodworkers, seamstresses, and artisans working for free in the garage the way home improvement TV shows do. But I digress.
    After righting myself and turning down the volume low enough to be background noise, I text back, As if. Try someone from our species.
    Just talking to Allison makes me feel like I’m in high school again. I stare at the phone and wait for her response, giggling like a seventeen-year-old hyped up on Starbucks Frappuccinos.
    Um… You got me, chica. Who is it??
    Brandon. No last name is required—Brandon Royer was my first high school boyfriend and, if I choose to think of him this way, my “one who got away.” I had a crush on him from middle school on, so when he asked me out at the start of tenth grade, I was in heaven. And then he dumped me for no apparent reason in the middle of our junior year. He showed up to prom that year with Missy Tompkins, head cheerleader, class president—basically everything I was not—and they dated through the rest of high school. It still pisses me off to think about it because I was head over heels in love with him, or at least I thought I was.
    I haven’t seen Brandon since graduation, in part because I skipped my ten-year class reunion. I haven’t thought about him much since then either. College was an effective anesthetic for high school heartbreak. Why is Brandon friending me? I’m not friends with any exes on Facebook, not counting Jeremy. Jeremy and I haven’t unfriended each other yet, though my finger has hovered over the button on multiple occasions. I wish he’d be the one to pull the plug. Otherwise, I’m not sure what we’re waiting for.
    My phone chirps with an incoming text, jolting me out of these thoughts.
    No shit? is Allison’s reply.
    For real. I

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