I Am Right Behind You
What are you doing? Where are you going? Why must you move in the opposite direction from where I’m moving? It’s morally and ethically wrong that someone with your face should be accelerating further and further away from my face. Our faces should be mooshing together, repeatedly, aggressively, with fluids even. You should be getting closer to me, not further away. You should be thinking about me, not how to reach your mysterious irrelevant destination. At this moment, the laws of physics seem fundamentally unjust, seem to be working against my happiness; with every passing second, the distance between us grows larger and larger. There is no way for me to stop it, no way to avoid it.
How can I make you my girlfriend in this split second? I saw your face, and I thought, ‘That’s her. That’s my girlfriend. Forever.’ You saw my face, and you thought, ‘That’s a person.’ The fact that my momentary presence failed to catch your attention strikes me as profoundly horrifying and against the will of the universe. I feel that the extreme telekinetic force of my longing should cause you to spontaneously be my wife, and why doesn’t it, why am I still alone? Dear God, grant me the power, for just two seconds, to instill in this other human being an intense manic affection for me that will never end but only grow deeper until we both must get plastic surgery to resemble each other like Genesis P-Orridge and Lady Jaye, and then, in a romantic pagan ceremony, we cut off tiny pieces of our bodies and slowly devour each other alive and then have our brains implanted into a robot, so that we can never die, and we can love each other forever or at least until the sun goes supernova, possibly until the heat death of the universe if we secure a seat on a CEV (Civilian Evacuation Vessel). Do it. Make it happen.
As we pass each other in the hallway, there’s no socially acceptable way for me to stop you and say, “WILL YOU DATE ME YOU’RE PRETTY I LIKE YOU GET IN THE VAN.” How would I even stop you? I would have to leap in front of you, dive into your path, kick out your knees. You’re walking so quickly, I would have to grab your hair and say, “STOP MOVING AWAY FROM ME, LADY. I NEED YOUR SOUL TO TOUCH MY SOUL.” I would need to yell, “Free money!” or fall on my knees screaming. If I say, “Hello, I’m Brad,” you will probably say, “What do you want?” and I’ll say, “What do I want?” and you’ll say, “Yeah, what do you want?” and then I’ll say, “YOU I WANT YOU I NEED YOU OR I’LL DIE!” No, there’s no method of initiating contact that will not come off as menacing or ominous, particularly because we don’t know anything about each other.
If only I’d written my autobiography, I could hand it to you, so you would understand why I need to be in your life. The autobiography would consist of seven volumes and a free Ziploc baggie of adderall stapled to the inside cover of each volume. You would be so engrossed, so stimulated by the epic narrative that you would have a slight cerebral hemorrhage. Better yet, I’d like to beam all my memories into your brain, omitting the gross ones, so we could skip all the boring dating crap and move directly to being soulmates for all eternity. I don’t want to be in a situation where it’s social unacceptable for me to make out with you, and the “getting to know you/ first date” period requires me to pretend I don’t have a constant physically debilitating erection at all times you’re in eyesight. It’s a waste of time. It’s a waste of energy. Who needs the aggravation?
It’s important that I not be perceived as a “rapist.”
I have to memorize your face, scorch it into my brain tissue, carve your perfect features into my palm with an xacto knife. When I get home, I’ll get on Facebook and go through every student’s profile one by one until I find you. It’ll take a long time, but don’t worry. I’m very patient. And after some extensive research, I’ll discern what classes you’re taking, and, oh yes, I’ll enroll in those classes, academically excel at those classes, sit next to you in those classes, and you will ask me to help you in those classes. You will. You’ll need my help because I’ll be so proficient at the curriculum.
Who are your friends? I will identify your friends, become friends with your friends, and then your friends will introduce me as if I am a normal stable regular person with no personality disorders. You will look into my eyes and understand intuitively how nice I am, how unbelievably goddamn nice I am. With little difficulty, I will contort my facial expression into one that is reasonable and non-threatening.
It seems unfair to judge me as morally deficient when there’s no other way for me to enter your life without creeping, no honorable way to procure the information necessary to elicit affection from you. What am I expected to do? We could’ve been biology classmates, coworkers at the Gap, or members of French club, and the fact that we’re not is merely a hiccup of fate, one we shouldn’t allow to come between us. Why would you entrust your happiness to the capricious whims of a cruel and hateful deity? You wouldn’t of course. If you love someone, you must “like” all of her photos on Facebook. Her favorite music must become your favorite music. You must keep commenting on her wall, keep favoriting her tweets, keep DMing her until she falls in love with you. You may be walking away from me, walking to your class or to lunch, but that’s okay; I’m right behind you. I’m always right behind you.
A | A | A
It started with a right swipe, a little green heart. Tinder of course.
Though I acknowledge and appreciate the differences in human experiences, and while your heartbreak is (and always will be) uniquely and completely your own, I must urge you to consider that I have been where you are.
With his hat cocked back, body tilted away from his cane, and right forefinger pointing directly at his audience, Joseph Ducreux commands the attention of those viewing his self-portrait.
I was born in 1990; he was born in 1973. I’m 23; he just turned 40.