Folks, the days are long and my energy is high. It’s times like this that I decide to stop screwing around and get serious about… something. Some days I think I should get serious about cooking. Some days it’s my (sadly long neglected) Etsy store. Lately it’s been writing.
I’ve been trying to cut out unnecessary time-sucks (remember the electron vacation?) and make better and more mindful decisions about how I spend my precious moments (the actual moments, not the creepy porcelain dolls), and Facebook happens to be a big one for me. I’m not proud of it, but I’ll go on to look at pictures someone’s tagged of me and end up wasting more time than I care to mention here figuring out which friends fed their virtual goats that day and which did not. During my fast, though, instead of going on Facebook, I decided to write about it. I read this piece at the Knoxville Writer’s Guild Open Mike (joining and attending Guild meetings are another prong of my “Write, for the love of God” self-attack). As part of my commitment to writing more frequently, I’m going to try to share short (you’re welcome) pieces of writing here at least semi-often. Here, my friends, is a little cautionary tale.
Dan has told himself he will not look at Facebook. He tells himself this as soon as he gets up each morning, each time he sits down to his computer at work, and each time he opens the door to his dark apartment at the end of the day. But every night, after thousands of tiny exercises in self-control, he types his email address into one box and his password into another and clicks to her profile, feasting on it like a gooey midnight snack.
Here’s Maya holding her cat, left arm reaching off the screen to take their picture.
Here’s the back of Maya’s head at a baseball game. She’s wearing her favorite purple shirt. Dan remembers how he hated that shirt. Now he kind of likes it.
Here’s Maya behind a plate of tacos and a giant margarita glass here eyes are droopy and Dan can see she’s buzzed. He studies the elbow next to Maya’s and tries to decide who it belongs to. It’s female- that’s certain and comforting. If it’s Susan’s elbow, they probably finished their meals and went on home. But if the elbow is Jenny’s, Dan is certain she pushed Maya to have another and go out dancing. Jenny has never been good for Maya.
Dan stares at Maya’s profile. He does not write on her wall, he knows better than that. he does not poke her.
Dan blinks hard when her status tells him she’s just four blocks from his house, at the neighborhood bar Maya had always talked about wanting to try. Dan stand and reaches for his coat. The update is from eleven o’clock. Maybe she’s still there. Surely she’s still there. He puts his coat on. She will be there and Dan will see her. He takes his coat off. He sits down.
Dan knows he won’t be able to pretend he just stopped by for a drink at midnight. Dan doesn’t do that sort of thing and Maya knows it. Dan clicks to his profile, tries to see it through Maya’s eyes (if Maya ever looked, but Dan is sure she doesn’t).
“Dan is tired”
“Dan decided on frozen pizza again tonight. Three for three.”
“Dan is bourbon on ice and this shitty recliner. It could be worse.”
He changes his status.
“Dan is happy.”
Even he doesn’t buy it. He writes it again in all capitals.
“DAN IS HAPPY.”
Happy doesn’t suit Dan. On Maya it’s natural and cute. On Dan it’s desperate and defensice. That was always Maya’s problem with him.
At 12:30, Dan turns off his computer and rubs his eyes, promising not to sign on again, to delete his account, to find another girlfriend like Maya, to make her love her like Maya did, to keep her from leaving like Maya did.
He goes to bed. he still uses the purple sheets she bought him, even though he hates them.