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“No, not that one,” she thought.
Her index finger scrolled endlessly as she went months and years back in her photostream. Normally, her Instagram stories consisted of meal prep recipes, portrait mode coffees, and Boomerangs of clinking rosé glasses.
But not today.
No, today was different. Today held more weight. Today, she had other things on her mind — Caroline’s birthday.
The way her profile was shaping up, she finally had a rounded-out and defined aesthetic that simply couldn’t be ruined with a rogue “happy birthday” photo that was taken in Cabo in 2011 on a second generation iPhone. The graininess of the photo would ruin everything she had put together over the last several months.
Instead, she knew what she had to do. She had to go through her camera roll and locate photos of them together that she could post sequentially with a broken sentence the spanned the entire story, slide by slide.
The first photo was from a date party in college where Caroline looked tan but about 15 pounds heavier than she is now. She, on the other hand, looked skinnier than ever because, unlike Caroline, she didn’t just get back from studying abroad in Italy (read: eating bread for every meal). It took her five attempts but, on the final one, she finally nailed writing “happy” in pink cursive.
The next photo was from graduation — both throwing their caps in the air, it was a professionally taken photo that was flattering enough for both of them. Frustrated with how many attempts it took her to write “happy” in the first slide, she opted to type “birthday” for the next. Matching the color of the text with that of their alma mater, she posted it as fast as possible for fear that someone would begin watching her story and not get the entire effect.
Searching for a more recent photo, she came across one of them fake-laughing in a booth at one of their favorite dive bars in the city. On the surface, it didn’t actually look staged but both of them knew that they were over-laughing in the photo solely to get likes. This was considered a throw-away in the grander scheme of the story as all it needed to say was “to” in it.
Unsure of where to go next, she tapped into the “selfies” folder of her photos. After sifting through her forced selfies with Todd, she finally stumbled across one of her and Caroline in front of The Golden Gate Bridge that they took on their yoga retreat. Both wearing Patagonia fleeces with lululemon leggings, she again turned to a cursive font for another easy and short word — “my.”
Now, it was officially crunch time. She had four stories up and only a couple to go. She could see that about 25 people had already begun watching her story, some of which were likely confused because they either 1. didn’t realize it was Caroline’s birthday or 2. didn’t realize how cohesive the story would be when it was all said and done.
Luckily, she had just the picture. Residing in her “Favorites” folder, it was a photo of them from Katie’s wedding. She wasn’t sure, but she was almost positive that the photographer had touched their faces up, made their arms look a tad skinnier, or both. Swiping up and selecting it, her finger selected the pen tool and scribbled “BESTIE” across them. They were hugging, and it was the perfect ending to the story that was the embodiment of their friendship. Saving the story and re-uploading it, she then tagged Caroline in the final slide before texting her, “Happy birthday!!!!” only to follow up, “I’m sorry I just blew your noties up on Insta, so fun going down memory lane!”
Caroline, annoyed that she was working on her birthday, immediately responded, “Thank u so much! Can’t wait to see you tonight!” But, in reality, Caroline was somewhat mad about the photos that had been selected. It was clear that the photos were not picked with her in mind, especially given the toga party photo where she looked the heaviest she’d ever been.
Scrolling through her story a second time, Caroline noticed something was up with the second slide — the one of them from college graduation. Rather than “birthday,” it read “birtday.” Somewhat excited about the typo, she decided to take a screenshot and text it back to her.
“Birtday,” Caroline typed followed by cry-face emojis.
“Oh my God,” she mouthed upon receiving Caroline’s text. “This is so freaking embarrassing.”
After all, what was she to do? Delete the story? Take a screenshot and acknowledge her mistake? Tear it all down and post it again? From what she could see, about 180 people had already viewed that particular slide. In her mind, that was far too many to just ignore.
“Ughhhhhhhhhhhh,” she responded to Caroline. “Of COURSE I spelled something wrong after all that.”
“lol,” Caroline responded.
It was hard to tell via text, but Caroline *seemed* annoyed.
Running through her options yet again, she knew she had no choice but to delete it. Given that it was one of the only slides with typed text rather than the handwritten cursive, it just felt more obvious as a typo than it would have in the “happy” or “bestie” slides.
It was only after this realization that she knew she had to distract Caroline somehow. After all, she had already viewed it so it would be weird to view it again, right? She began bombarding her with text questions to divert Caroline’s attention away from the error.
“Are you excited for tonight? What are you wearing? What did John get you? What time are we doing dinner again?”
The list went on and on as Caroline’s answers continued to roll in. And finally, when about 20 minutes had gone by, she knew she could take the opportunity to finally delete her story and save herself from the embarrassment that was spelling “birthday” wrong.
“I don’t think she’ll notice,” she told herself, more willing it to happen than actually believing it. One by one, she went through the series and took them down. The final slide had been seen by 398 people, so not a total failure as of yet — at least she caught it before it had been up for the better part of an hour.
Unfortunately, Caroline had already texted Katie.
“Oh my God, of course she already deleted it. That’s what she gets for posting that hideous photo of me.” .