I am Jack’s good humor. I am Jack’s stinging sense of abandonment. I am Jack’s metastasized loneliness. I am Jack’s reference to Fight Club. I am Jack’s stolen shoes. I am Jack’s disappointed mother. I am Jack’s unemployment check. I am Jack’s weed dealer, I am Jack’s unloved dick. I am Jack’s paralyzing terror because of all the tangible and intangible possessions that can identify themselves in the first person. I am Jack’s high. Muahahahaha, die, Jack! And fear our sentience!By Abby Salinero
I am Jack’s good humor. I am Jack’s stinging sense of abandonment. I am Jack’s metastasized loneliness. I am Jack’s reference to Fight Club. I am Jack’s stolen shoes. I am Jack’s disappointed mother. I am Jack’s unemployment check. I am Jack’s weed dealer, I am Jack’s unloved dick. I am Jack’s paralyzing terror because of all the tangible and intangible possessions that can identify themselves in the first person. I am Jack’s high. Muahahahaha, die, Jack! And fear our sentience!
I am Jack’s unwavering devotion. And I want to direct this to you. You. You know who you are. You above all other people. You who have so tragically become my God. My ethereal idol, who captured my heart and put it in a mason jar like a firefly, shelved, enjoyed for a night only to be forgotten about while it slowly died, muted behind glass and waning like the dying embers at the end of Christmas. You whom I love, who refuses to ease my descent into heartbreak by casting any attention me-ward. To Facebook! Commence stalking!
When you sat me down in the cool October grass amidst ochres and burnt siennas and coppers, under a blanket of cerulean, you told me, “This just isn’t going to work for me”. Your eyes were regretful, like you didn’t want to be doing what you were doing. I tried crying you out of your decision, but I think I got the formula for persuasiveness wrong. Too much snot, not enough pretty eye squint. I made a note for next time. The powdered gold in the air seemed to turn cold and aggressive, beating me into acrid wretchedness. This was the world without you.
As I write this, Laska is pawing me hopefully. She hasn’t been out all day. I wonder if I ever explained to you how I named Laska. We got her when I was fifteen. At the time, I was reading Anna Karenina so I named Laska after Levin’s faithful farm dog. Does that impress you? That I was reading Anna Karenina at fifteen? Doesn’t it prove how mature I am? I see in Laska’s eyes the intelligence I wish you would see in me. Just as she knows with wistful yet stoic resolve that her girl is going to neglect her today, I know that you will not see the precociousness that marked my childhood. That is perfectly evident by the fact that you seemed to have missed the memo that I am the perfect girl for you.
I type the first letter of your first name into the search bar at the top of my newsfeed. Your profile pops up immediately. Facebook knows what I want. I click your name and it brings me to your profile. I see no change in your profile picture, which is just a simple head shot of you with a smile that could melt my heart a thousand times over. Relief washes over me. You haven’t met anyone worthy of sharing a profile picture. You haven’t met some overgrown nymphet batting her eyelashes at you and sexily suggesting that she would totally have sex with you if you changed your profile picture. Do you like the word nymphet? It’s used by Humbert Humbert in Lolita to describe girls on the cusp of puberty who he finds sexually attractive. I’m not saying you’re a hebephile or anything; that was more of a dig towards the scantily-clad, myopic, uncurvacious stupids who swarm your dick like it’s the last they’ll ever see. Deep breath, count to ten. 1…2…10. Keep breathing. But no, no change in profile. No dick-swarmers. You are exactly as you were when you left me. That I know. I scroll through your pictures. I’ve seen them all before. No new ones. That’s also a good sign. You haven’t posted anything new since we broke up. That’s good, that’s really good. Maybe I will take Laska out today.
The application deadline for college is quickly approaching. I have nine schools I’m applying to, thanks to the ease of the Common App. I’ve been working on my essay, which is supposed to show growth arising from some conquering of adversity. I decided to write about my stint as a vampire. It was an especially adversity-riddled time in my life because not only was my best friend a werewolf with olfactory issues (allowing me to keep my vampiric nature a secret from her), but my dad was the freaking head of the Vampire Hunting Association. I would have written about maybe growing up poor or moving from a Catholic school to a large public high school, but something in me said “write about this awesome thing instead.” Maybe it was the memory of you saying that you have a soft spot for geeky girls. I think that’s adorable, and what’s better is that is so totally me. And while I know you’ll never read my college essay, if I write about being a vampire, then I can truthfully make Facebook statuses about writing my college essay about being a vampire. Then, not only will you see it, but you’ll know that my geekiness is worn with pride and broadcast to the entirety of Facebook. Also, you’ll see that I have better things to do than to direct my attention towards you. I mean, I have a Facebook of my own!
Status construction: maybe something like, “Starting my college essay. I’m thinking I’m going to let them know about my stint as a vampire.” It’s simple, as if I don’t care about being funny, but I’m funny anyway by virtue of the fact that I have this crazy, big thing to announce offhandedly. Although maybe it would be funnier and more original to dramatically reveal this deep dark secret in a sarcastic way. Something like, “My dearest friends and family. I have not been entirely truthful with you. I have concealed a large part of who I am for many years because I was afraid that I would be rejected by all of you, my dear ones. But now I am ready to stand up as who I truly am; to shed this sheep’s skin and embrace a radiance that can only be gilded in truth. I am, have always been, and will always be, a vampire.” Though that’s not true to my story for the essay, in which I claim to have been a vampire at one point but no longer. That’s dishonest. Also that status mentions nothing about actually writing a college essay about it. That’s the whole point of the status, to let you know that I’m writing my college essay about this super creative, geeky, off the wall thing. Maybe something like, “I am writing my college essay about my stint as a vampire. You may think I am joking. I assure you, I am not.” This isn’t the best status I’ve ever constructed, but I think it’s sufficiently funny. It will make people shake their heads with smiles on their faces and sigh, amused, “good God, only that one would do a thing like that.” With shaking hands, I type out the status, look it over three times, say it aloud, and finally, hit “post”.
Within a minute one of my semi-friends likes it. But she’s a liking whore, who just goes around liking everything from Buzzfeed articles to Photos of the Day to bathroom selfies, so while she’s good for augmenting the quantity of likes, she’s no real prize. I wait for five minutes, playing Candy Crush on my phone while waiting for more likes. None come. I scroll through the names on the right side of the page of people who are online and available for chat. At the very top of the list, I see your name immediately. I don’t even see the letters, I just see the general shape they make. I have become conditioned to the exact size and shape of your full name, and to associate that wonderful name with you. Next to your name is a little gray phone. My heart leaps out of my chest as the gray phone turns into a bright green dot. Oh my God. You’ve come online. Talking to you is only a few clicks away. You’ve definitely seen my status by now. I glance quickly in the top right corner for a little red “1” on the side of the light blue globe. It is nerve-wrackingingly bare. I glance back at your green dot. We are in the same room practically. There are all these other people milling about, talking to each other, but amongst them and high above them is you. I’m sure you notice my green dot as well. You must. I’m staring, transfixed, at yours, so there HAS to be some way that you feel it. I glance up for the notification sign. No. You don’t like my status. You saw it—you must have seen it—and you don’t like it. You think I’m stupid, or trying too hard, or just crazy in a bad way. I should probably take it down. But would that really help much? You’ve already seen it. God why did I ever think that was a good idea? Nobody likes it except for that liking whore.
Is this who I am? Destined to be shunned by my Facebook peers for my creativity and weirdness? I guess so. I guess I should embrace this tragedy as my own. Nurse it in the folds of my bleeding heart, or in the folds of my tummy like it’s a baby penguin.
Which reminds me. I’m fucking fat. How can I possibly expect you to like my statuses when I’m so fucking fat? I begin to cry hysterically, trying to hide my sobs from my parents down the hall. But someone should know. Someone should be there in my time of need. Not you, of course. Although….although….maybe I could get away with accidentally telling you ambiguously about how sad I am. I could drunk text you. That would be completely unintentional, but would reveal my deepest, suppressed feelings. It would let you know that while I’m strong enough to hide my tears during the day, at night, I can’t help but be suffocated by this noble and pretty sadness. How can you not respond to that? I sneak downstairs to where my parents keep their boxed wine that they drink when my aunt comes into town, I take a water bottle out of the cupboard, fill it to the top, and slither and slunk with a smile most unpleasant all the way back to my room.
I actually very much dislike the taste of alcohol, so sitting on my floor, downing this shit as fast as I can is kind of a chore. But no one said that being a tragic party girl was fun. Except for everyone.By the end of my water bottle I feel kind of nauseas, and a little buzzed, but not really too drunk. My parents would be suspicious if I snuck down and took another water bottle full, but at the same time I’m not nearly drunk enough to warrant a drunk text. I’m trying to think of some other way to get intoxicated enough to be uninhibited. Weed? I don’t have it. None of my friends have it. I’m not really friends with anyone from school who would have it. I do have some Tylenol PM from when I had a cold a few weeks ago. Maybe copious amounts of that would help. But that kind of intimidates me. Also, if I drunk texted you, chances are I would be like, “Oh, and by the way, I also took some Tylenol PM and am having trouble staying awake, so you’d probably better get over here.” And then you would come over here and that would be absolutely perfect except that it would wake up my parents and probably result in a trip to the ER, which, while the trip to the ER would perfectly demonstrate the severity of my situation and maybe coax out some concern for me on your part, it would also involve my parents, who already care about me enough and don’t have to be burdened by this shit.
While I’m thinking of what to do, I absent-mindedly scroll through the chat bar on the side of my newsfeed. Boring, boring, no interest, my sister, my cousin, my eighth grade ex, girl from the fencing team, less pretty girl from the fencing team, crazy vegan friend, crazy hipster friend, rando, rando, boring. The only one with even the slightest amount of promise is my eighth grade ex. While he doesn’t really do anything like weed, he does have a hefty supply of alcohol and lenient parents and is wont to be up at this time of night. And while we’re not friends per se, we do call each other crying sometimes and say that we love each other to feel like we’ve done a good job helping each other with our problems.
I message him on Facebook saying that the situation is dire and that I need booze immediately. He wants to know why, but in the same message agrees to bring booze. Ten minutes, he’s sneaking in, I have Svedka, and we sit in my room and talk. I offer him vague snippets of my tragic life over the past few months and of my spiral into spinsterhood and he tells me that you are a prick who is too aspy to get his nose out of his work for the three seconds it would take to realize that I’m amazing. Somehow this makes me feel like a more severe injustice has been leveled against fate. Eighth Grade Ex is admitting that you should think I’m amazing, which implies that you and I are perfect together, which makes me ache to make you know that even more. I drink the Svedka as quickly as I can, convince Eighth Grade Ex that he has to go or my dad will go all shot-gun on him, and stagger around the kitchen.
My mind is not free to romp around like the mind of God; like your mind. You can think of things on the universal scale, one that is too celestial to be concerned with any of the broken bones of human life. Your green dot is just as close-range as Daisy’s was to Gatsby’s dock. So close that it seemed impossible that he should fail to reach out and grasp it. I click on your name, and our message box pops up, containing the ghosts of two happy, dead people. How stupid I was back then. We were playing a game in our last conversation over Facebook. This was before you stopped paying attention to me. The game was two truths and a lie. We offer each other three statements about ourselves. Two true, one a lie. The other person names the stakes. They guess. Win. Lose. Dirty talk. Flirt flirt flirt. God, we are practically children splashing in a kiddie pool on a hot summer day. I mean, we are happy in the infantile way that only children and new lovers can be happy. I scroll up through the conversation, remembering backwards, watching our relationship Benjamin Button itself back to the beginning. It’s funny: from that point going forward it seemed at once so ephemeral and infinite.
Arriving at the beginning from the end just makes it seem so punctuated. Boom. Over. Nothing before that. Nothing after that. This is very easy for me to visualize drunk, and I play a roll of film backwards and then forwards and then backwards in my head. It’s like scrolling through a list of numbers on your iTunes super fast. It’s mesmerizing. But it also makes me dizzy, and I have just enough time to hurl myself into the bathroom before I hurl the alcohol into the toilet. I cry a little more because throwing up is intimidating. Then I flush, brush my teeth, and crawl into bed with my laptop. I watch cute videos of kittens that I wish you were here to see. Your reaction would be adorable. I imagine that you are here. Going from start to finish, trying not to be repetitive, I imagine you sitting next to me watching this video and saying things you would say. Then spooning me to sleep as I spin lazily into a drunken slumber. I no longer have the nerve to drunkenly reach out to you. Surely I can think of a better way.
I didn’t get my college applications out on time. It’s not the biggest deal in the world. My parents are upset obviously, but I think it’s just because they don’t see the wonderful opportunities this affords me. I can work on myself. I can grow up a little. I can travel to Cambridge and sit in their cute little library reading books like Hermione Granger. I can teach myself. School would be too constraining anyway. Plus, since you’re so busy with work all the time, the less busy I am, the more time we’ll have together.
I visit your profile again today. You’ve posted a clip from your favorite British radio program. I look up the program on Wikipedia. I take in actors’ names and musical score used, and immediately I begin crafting Facebook statuses that could casually mention a mastery of knowledge in this particular subject. I could mention that the opening theme is a mazurka. You probably don’t know what a mazurka is, so using that in a status would display my intelligence. I type, “the mazurka from Edward Elgar’s ‘Three Characteristic Pieces’ is probably the best dancing music I’ve come across in a while.” Oh, but maybe that would be too suspicious. If you did look into it, you would see that that mazurka is used as the opening theme for the radio broadcast that you posted about that very day. Then you would know that I’ve been Facebook stalking you AND trying to get your attention by posting about the thing that you were posting about. God, could I be any more obvious? No, I can’t post anything about the mazurka for at least two weeks. And that’s assuming you don’t post anything else about the radio show in the meantime. But what’s the chance of that? I know how much you love that show. It’s adorable to hear you talk about it. You’ll post more about it I’m sure. Ugh, but then I’ll never get to show off how much I know about things!
Maybe I could get an internship at the BBC, go to England, get the autographs of everyone on that show, and when I get back to the States just be like, “Oh hey! I have a present for you!” You would be so jealous of my adventures, and I would seem so free of you. Off in England doing big things. I look up applications for internships at the BBC, and leave the page open on one that I’ll fill out later. For now, I’d like to take a scroll through your Facebook pictures. You were so cute when you were my age. You had just started college and were going through that phase that all engineers go through where they grow out their hair really long and sport a wiry and pathetic goatee. In this picture you are making cookies with your fraternity for a charity. You have on a purple shirt about science and you look like you’re in charge of everyone. Haha, you know, you really did do better to cut your hair and shave your face, hon. It flatters you. I want to say that in the nicest way possible, kid. But you know that.
This is a recent picture of you and your nephew. He has all of his fingers wrapped around your pointer finger. In a weird way, I’m super jealous of that baby. You look like you love him so much. And he will never lose your love to work. He doesn’t have to feel this hollowness.
This is a picture of you at Dave and Busters with this blonde woman who you claim is “just a friend” but I scroll through that picture quickly. It makes me sick.
This is a picture of you apple picking with some friends. You went with two couples, so you look completely fifth wheeled. I could have gone with you, you know.
This is a picture of a cathedral that you took in England. It’s nice and all but it doesn’t have you in it.
Laska comes in with her leash in her mouth. She looks older somehow. More gray than she looked yesterday. Or maybe the day before. I don’t give it much thought as I turn her away. It feels good to be alone with your memories.I go through all of our texts, from beginning to end. I just scroll right on up to the top and work my way down this time. God, how different we were back then! How interested and engaged you were in our conversation. I had no idea how lucky I was. Why can’t you be like that again? Why do you have to put me through so much pain? Why can’t you just feel the sadness that I feel?
Laska comes in with her leash in her mouth. I push her away. I have become completely absorbed in our glorious and happy time together. I feel like I could live a dream, replaying our relationship and burrowing down in the memory and never coming out. I mean, I’m still Facebook friends with you, I still have access to all our conversations, all your pictures. Really, what’s stopping me? All of a sudden, I feel really happy. I have a Facebook. I can express my thoughts and project exactly what I want. I’m sure I can make you love me. I’m sure I can make you want me. I can be whoever I want. I can do whatever I want. I am invincible!
Laska saunters up to me to remind me that it’s been three months since I took her out. Whoops. I forgot to care.
My younger sister is getting married tomorrow. Not sure how I became this old. All I know is that I’m still single and you’re still single and I am this close to messaging you and inviting you to be my plus one. Eh, it doesn’t really matter. You’ll get to see my wonderful pink bridesmaids dress later on Facebook anyway.
My sister had a baby and I’m so excited because I get to post a heartfelt message on Facebook about becoming an aunt and the wonders of new life and about how beautiful she is. Hopefully you’ll see it and congratulate me and welcome me to the Aunt and Uncle Club. Or at least, hopefully you’ll be thinking that in your head.
Laska wears glasses now, mostly to show that time has passed.
“I am Jack’s wasted life” Pause. Read. Post.
About the Author:
Once upon a time, Abby got dumped, and it took her a million years to get over it. During that time, Facebook was at once the poultice and the poison to her recovery, which rendered her just like most other people in the dating pool. Roughly a century later, Abby felt good enough to reach out to this ex and tell him that she didn’t care what he thought of her anymore. Through his complete lack of response, Abby was tested in her claim and she passed. Disappointingly, she cannot say that she will not fall into the same abusive relationship with Facebook the next time she faces heartbreak. She probably will. Her goal is not to vanquish Facebook. It’s just to understand what weaknesses social media plays on and mock them to make herself feel a bit better about having them. It helps. In her spare time, Abby is a full-time college student at UAlbany, and in her real spare time, she paints.