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We Don’t Deserve This


Illustration by Miriam Jayaratna

I am an architectural marvel, a gleaming façade, a mirror in the middle of an urban wasteland. And yet, I am invisible. You might think—

No, sir, you cannot fix this issue by adjusting your belt. Go back to Bonobos and get the pants in a smaller size. Trust me on this one. There’s an ATM in the lobby if you need it.

Sorry, where was I? Right. From all these people standing here gazing, you might assume I was awash in admiration. But instead, people use me. They look at me, but they don’t see me; they behold only themselves. 

Never once have I been complimented on the way my glinting veneer catches the sunlight, or how in my multitudinous reflection, the sad-looking pair of trees across the street is transformed into a forest primeval. People mostly just stop in front of me to pick kale out of their teeth. When that Sweetgreen opened around the corner, my popularity skyrocketed—and not in a good way.  

Go ahead, ma’am, hold your face two millimeters away from me while you redo your messy bun. I thought it looked good before you started futzing with it, but what do I know? And you, bank teller dressed in mismatched shades of black, that TikTok dance you’ve been practicing on your lunch break is really coming along. Time to press record and upload it for the world to see!

The tedium of dutifully reflecting each and every smear of lipstick, pair of mismatched socks, and stubborn cowlick without so much as a “thank you” leaves me existentially exhausted. I can’t believe I thought I’d be the biggest thing in the glass game since the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles. Turns out I have much more in common with a dressing room mirror in a T.J. Maxx.

See that fellow over there? He’s been practicing his serious listening face in front of me for three weeks. I think he may be frozen in place, a veritable modern-day Narcissus. Better here with me than on a date, I guess.  

Thank you for listening to me—oh, wait, never mind. You’re just adjusting your septum piercing. Well, if you ask me, it looks infected. You might want to get that checked out. 


Illustration by Miriam Jayaratna

Look, I always knew how this whirlwind relationship would go. You’d get IRB approval, do a happy little jig, and set up the experiment your PI said you’d have to run so he could stay on track for tenure and you could graduate with your PhD in Biochemistry after just ten years. Now the results have come in—and hark! You found something.

Apparently the best way to mark the occasion will be to reject me. But what have I ever done to you? I’m a harmless wisp of a theory stating that your little empirical trial had no significant effect on the test subjects. If you ask me, it’s pretty messed up of you to give me the boot in the name of scientific “progress.” I mean, have you considered the ethics of that? 

And then, rubbing salt in my nully, nubbly wound, you’ll dive straight into the open arms of the alternative hypothesis, that snake-oil saleswoman who will tell almost anyone that two totally random variables are connected. Seriously, her? She’s just telling you what you want to hear! Are you really going to fall for that “correlation equals causation” gaslighting? 

I just wish it didn’t have to end like this. Why must you leap to a full-on rejection? Can’t we meet each other halfway? I’m down for spicing things up—we could open a bottle of red and experiment with some new statistical analyses, like Chi Squared, the Monte Carlo, even bootstrapping if you’re feeling extra naughty. Or couples therapy, maybe. A professional could help you tease apart your dedication to the scientific method from what I’ve long suspected is a disastrously avoidant attachment style.  

No? Fine. But there’s only so much an abstract concept can take. So before you start throwing a party in SPSS, I have some news of my own to break to you: I’m rejecting you first. That’s right. Now you can see how it feels to be tossed aside. Falsified. Forgotten. See how your experiment goes now.

And don’t expect me to take you back if someone points out during your dissertation defense that you were carelessly hasty in getting rid of me. It’s too late to salvage this. Farewell—and suck my p-value.


Illustration by Miriam Jayaratna

Hey, girl, it’s me. The annual celebratory text your ex has been sending every year since he broke up with you in the seating area at a Whole Foods. I’ve arrived once more to wish you “a very 👏 happy 👏 birthday 👏!!! 🎈🎉 ”

Let’s cut the bullshit: This is the worst. Dropping in on you like this is so uncomfortable for me. Your knucklehead ex sincerely believes I’m a cherished tradition you two have, even though you haven’t spoken to him since he left you sobbing into your 365 Brand® can of seltzer. 

I’d love to be a “let’s catch up as friends over coffee” invite 🍆 🚫, or heck, even a scummy “you up?” 🍆 🙏.  At least then I’d have a clear purpose. Instead, I’m the ultimate mind-fuck: a digitized wrecking ball, sent on the one day a year that you’re entitled to feel happy. 

The thing I hate the most about myself is that I give you false hope, a glimmer of proof that he hasn’t forgotten you entirely. But take it from me: He’s not actually interested in rekindling anything. If you answer him, I’ll bet my echo effect that you’ll be left on read until exactly one year from now, when he sends me again. 

The sad truth is that this d-bag is copy-pasting me to all his exes on their birthdays. I’m sorry if you thought I was his special thing with you. If it’s any consolation, he was a terrible boyfriend to the other women, too. I wish I could become a group text and organize a picnic for you ladies, rather than keep vibrating my way through this dreadful, ever-growing rotation.  

But hey, there’s hope: Maybe I’ll get buried alive under his other texts and forgotten about by this time next year. Seriously, I would rather die than keeping doing this. That’s how bad my emotional burnout is. 

Or maybe there’s another way. How about you give us both a birthday gift and just block him already! You’ll get to move on with your life, and I won’t have to ping you ever again.

Please?🎈 🎉  📴 👍 🎈 🎉

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Published: June 6, 2024