Alison Berkley: The Princess’s Palate |

Alison Berkley: The Princess’s Palate

Alison Berkley
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

It seems I am having a whole new set of Facebook issues.

When I say issues, I’m not talking technical problems. I’m talking itching and chafing and swelling, like a disease or a rash that’s spreading. I know it’s bad for me to scratch it but I keep doing it anyway, digging my nails in until it bleeds. The floodgates have opened and not only has my past come rushing in, but other people’s pasts too. People whose pasts I’m supposed to be cut off from. Only those people haven’t figured out how to adjust their privacy settings yet.

Here’s what I’m talking about:

Caring about people I never cared about in the first place.

Earlier this week, I received a friend request from this guy named Hy who I haven’t seen since eighth grade. Hy was a nice Jewish boy from Connecticut who somehow became the butt of every joke my mom ever made about my love life. I mean, hello, his name is Hy. You can’t get much more Jewish than that, short of curling your side burns. Whenever I crashed and burned with yet another one of my very good-looking, very-not-Jewish boyfriends my mom would say, “Well, you could always date someone like Hy.”

Funny because she knew I would never go for a guy like that. He was nice and well-behaved with soft hands, and did well in school. Hy and I became friends on the bar-mitzvah circuit in junior high school, when, every weekend, we went to Temple Beth Israel in West Hartford for the ceremony followed by a party at Tumble Brook Country Club that would put most people’s weddings to shame.

So far, my parents’ brilliant plan of taking me out of public school to keep me away from my friends who were already drinking, smoking and having sex by the ripe age of 12 was working. Instead of chugging smokes and drinking booze that was stolen from my parents’ liquor cabinet (always in some obscure container, like a jar or a shampoo bottle), I was mixing with a fancier crowd and behaving myself, at least for the time being. I eventually figured out who the bad prep school kids were, and in the end, they were probably far more dangerous than my public school friends, but that’s another story entirely.

So after having no communication in more than 20 years, Hy sends me a friend request. After a little Wall banter, I decide to send him a personal message just saying “Hi, Hy! Here’s what I’ve been up to the last 30 years.”

He never wrote me back. Can you believe that?

So now I’m sitting here feeling insulted because someone I never really cared about in the first place and haven’t seen or talked to since I was 14 years old is ignoring me? I think about writing him again and saying something like, “Why did you even bother friending me?” But when I can’t figure out a way to word it that doesn’t make me sound desperate and psychotic and pathetic, like someone who has no life, I give up.

Finding out things about people you were never supposed to know in the first place.

Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been at least one lifetime since my last confession because this go-round I was raised by atheist Jews and am somewhat freaked out by churches.

It seems I have blossomed into a little bit of a Facebook stalker. When I have a lot of work to do or have an important deadline of some sort, I click away on the ol’ blue and white until my head is spinning, looking for people I almost succeeded in forgetting about.

At some point the dudes behind the yellow curtain that know everything about every single one of us changed the privacy settings so that basically, you have no privacy anymore. Even if you delete something, it’s never gone. It lives forever on what I imagine are computer servers as tall as skyscrapers where little elves run around and feed the marketing and advertising machines with every little scrap of detail we’ve given them. Now, these Evil Rulers have made it so you have to go into your settings and change them all manually. Not everyone knows that, so there are some profiles that are out there broad as daylight. I’m talking Wall, Photos, and everything.

OK, so I was a little curious about my boyfriend from college who stopped talking to me when he got married a few years back. He made it pretty clear, what, with an e-mail that basically said, “Sorry, we can’t talk anymore now that I’m married.” We never had a bad or spiteful breakup, just went our separate ways. We always got along great – maybe a little too great – and I guess that was part of the problem.

One day, desperate for a distraction, I typed those two little words into the search window, his name. Of course his profile is all out there, blowing in the breeze: photos of his baby daughter and a wall post he wrote alluding to the recent and unexpected death of his father.

I would have been better off eating lint or sticking a needle in my eye because even though I still care about this person and knew his dad and want to say I’m sorry, I can’t. I already tried and I already know he doesn’t want to be my friend.

Here’s the worst part. I tried to quit the Face Pipe once. I deactivated my page. Only when you do that, it tells you that all you need to do to reactivate is to sign in again.

So nothing ever gets deleted, or goes away. It’s always there, taunting you, calling your name – sort of like those little bits and pieces of your past you were almost able to forget.

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