LOS ANGELESDue to her friends' actions at, or absences from, her 22nd birthday party at the Three Of Clubs Saturday night, Angela Linton was forced to revise her list of friends Monday.
"Last week, I counted Sheila Miller among my very good friends," Linton said. "But I guess she had something a lot cooler to do on the night of my 22nd birthday. Well, I'm sorry, but if she didn't want to see me Saturday, she doesn't have to see me ever again. She's off the list."
Linton said she had roughly 75 friends last week, but the figure plummeted to less than 60 following her birthday party. The list of friends has not seen such a dramatic revision since her modern-dance performance at the Grace Unitarian Church in November 2003.
Party attendance alone did not guarantee continued inclusion on the friend list. Ex-boyfriend Jack Freedman was excised for bringing an inappropriate guest to Linton's party.
"Jack showed up two hours late with his arm around some little tramp!" Linton said. "She was so skinny she looked like she had an eating disorder, and her roots were showing. It was supposed to be a nice night to celebrate my birthday, not some sort of revolting show-and-tell for whatever slut he's sleeping with this week."
Added Linton: "I thought he was my friend, but I guess I was wrong. Unless he makes it up to me, Jack's name has a line through it."
Those names that did remain on the list were subject to a vigorous reshuffling.
Ilana Reynolds, who has been friends with Linton since middle school, slipped 11 spaces, because she spent the entire party sitting in a back booth and talking to other guests. According to Linton, Reynolds didn't even try to move closer to her, even though it was her party.
"I was like, 'I'm over here,'" Linton said.
But some of Linton's friends were lucky enough to have their status raised.
"[Coworker] Tony [Colella] scored real points by buying me an amaretto sourmy drinkwithout my asking," Linton said. "I've only been out with him a couple of times, and he totally remembered what I like. He jumped up 15 places."
Most of Linton's friends are unaware of her list. Even those who suspect that the list exists display a striking ignorance of the way their behavior affects their status.
"If she's got a list, I'm definitely on it," said high-school friend Priya Shah, who was removed from the list after getting embarrassingly drunk on Saturday, interrupting Linton while she was telling a story, and hitting on Linton's 17-year-old brother Vince. "I've known Angie for too long for anything to get between us. We've been through it all."
One expert called Linton's list-making a "sign of today's fast-paced, interconnected world."
"While older people tend to see their social circles shrinking, people in their 20s are seeing their friend groups expand to an almost unmanageable size," said USC sociology department chair Herbert Rouse, author of More Than Grades: Keeping Score In Social Schools. "They find they are still in touch with acquaintances from their pasthigh-school friends, family friends, former neighbors, and the likewhile at the same time their social circles are widening to include new friends from college, coworkers, and people met through activities and interests. Who's got time to deal with someone who can't even call to say they're sorry after they didn't make it to your party? I'm sorry, but no."
Although Linton is "disappointed" in her former friends, she said only the rare excision is permanent.
"A lot of people hurt me on Saturday, and they've got their work cut out for them to win me back," Linton said. "But I've had friends in worse positions who've managed to make their way back onto my list. I mean, after stumbling out and stiffing me for the cab ride home, Brittany is off forever, but the others still have a shot."