the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

The Story of the Birthday Selfie


This morning, someone asked me how I took this “birthday” photo of myself that I posted on Facebook — not the baby one, but the one where I am on my bed, stretched out like a sexy male model in some underwear ad.

Here’s the story:

I woke up with the idea of taking a photo of myself “in my birthday suit,” in honor of my upcoming birthday. But how to do it? My arm is just not long enough to capture myself in full glory. But like they say, “necessity is the mother of invention.”

I found a roll of scotch tape and used it to tape my iPhone to the ceiling. I then set up a photo app on my phone to take a photo every ten seconds, giving me a chance to pose in various positions while I faked sleeping (forgetting – of course – to take off my glasses).

I let the photo shoot begin. I felt a sense of pride. I had moved from photographer to subject. It was my moment to shine in the ultimate selfie! I moved to the right, to the left, smiling, scowling, putting my arm up, putting my arm down, waiting for the next click of the phone. This was going to turn out great!  I was going to turn myself into an object of desire!

But, suddenly I heard a crunchy, tearing sound, a tone of danger. My eyes were closed, faking sleep, and when I opened them, I saw the clear imminent threat. It was my iPhone. The weight of the phone had loosened the scotch tape, and my trusty iPhone 4S had broken from it’s sticky prison, and it was heading straight towards my head, flying through the air like the H-bomb. I jolted to my right, and the iphone passed by my ear, the case whipping by the tips of my graying hair. If I had been a second slower, the iPhone would have slammed into my glasses, possibly cracking my lens, or worse — making me go blind in one eye.

But I survived. I had escaped from what could have been a tragedy. I would have had to post a birthday selfie of me wearing a black eye patch with cracked eyeglasses, like a nerdy Jewish pirate.

Which brings me to my birthday, and what lessons I learned from this experience. We all take chances in life. We make art. We do stupid things. We risk danger by taking selfies. But as long as a person embraces his goals, his dreams, no matter how ridiculous they may be, and is able to survive with minimum physical harm, he is leading a good life.


  1. Jenni Chiu @ MommyNaniBooboo

    I always knew you were a survivor, Neil.
    Happy birthday.

  2. Emily

    Next time, use masking tape.

  3. Veronica

    Nerdy Jewish pirate. I like it. My daughter has a “dimple” in her chin, which is really a scar from the time her brother threw his phone at her and hit her in the face.

  4. The Animated Woman

    When you originally posted that photo of you two days ago, I asked if you slept with your glasses on. I knew it looked suspicious!

    Happy Birthday! You’re one of my favourite people on the planet!

  5. jenna

    Neil, don’t you know that DUCT TAPE is the tape of choice for DIY projects like this? You can do anything with duct tape.

  6. Suniverse

    Impressive ninja-like reflexes. However, I think the eyepatch photo would have been awesome.

    Happy birthday!

  7. Kizz

    Happy birthday! Good to know you’ve retained your quick reflexes.

  8. father muskrat

    Certainly the most profound birthday post I’ve ever read. Well done.

  9. Absence Alternatives

    Of course I was asking how you took the selfie of the one of the left! So go write another post explaining that one. Sorry though as soon I read that you taped your iPhone, my mind went, “Ugh oh. This is not good.” And for sure, your quick reflex saved you but ruined a great story you could have been able to tell after cocktail parties. Sigh.

    Joking aside: Happy birthday to one of my favorite essayists alive. 🙂

    • Neil

      This post was for you.

  10. kenju

    You tell a good tale, Neil. Have the happiest of birthdays!

  11. Denise

    thank you for sharing the story behind the photo and seizing the opportunity to post it, again. I hope you have a splendid birthday with cake of course. Happy Birthday Neil.

  12. Glori B.

    I salute thee, O wanton bed pirate! Hurrah for living through the experience with both eyes intact.

  13. vodkamom

    Sweet Jesus I love you.

    Particularly because you’re NORMAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    and very, very sexy.


  14. Rainbow Motel

    I’ve always wondered how all my yoga teachers are able to post pictures of themselves constantly!!!! Now I know!

  15. Linda Kuriloff

    That’s too funny! I guess if you’d been hit, it would’ve been a “snapSHOT.” 😉

  16. Ned

    Happy Birthday, Neil!

  17. hello haha narf

    sorry i am so late to the party. hope your birthday was magnificent.
    i love this post. most especially the last paragraph.

  18. Marinka

    I love that you forgot to take off your glasses.

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