Ours is a love affair born in the foetid swamp of Facebook and nurtured on its violent shores of commentary.
My informal courtship of this Facebook friend began when she linked to the most amazing comic strip about a morally ambiguous honey badger. I immediately staked a claim to the artist, in that manner of fanboy adoration only possible when one has never met the person in question — and is highly unlikely to ever do so.
Me: I’M IN LOVE.
Her: I will fight you for her.
Me: I will pull out your rib cage and wear it as a hat, for her.
Her: I like that about you.
Me: I thought you might. ^
But as we all know, most online flirtations only go so far. It generally takes more than a shared appreciation for cartoons about an African carnivore that don’t give a sh!t for true bonds to flourish.
Like, say, placing the same value on the importance of being neighborly.
[later that week]
Her: Good neighbors loan you a machete, no questions asked. Good friends bring their own shovels and only ask where to dig.
Me: I think I might put you on speed dial, friend.
Her: “Have shovel, will travel.”
Given this auspicious beginning, I think it’s quite understandable that when she made an innocuous post about yard work the following month, I at first misunderstood her meaning.
Her: Hoe, hoe, hoe, machete, hoe.
Me: “Hi-hoe, hi-hoe! It’s off to ‘Dark Deeds That Dare Not Speak Their Name’ we go!”
Her: Hoe, hoe, septic tank, shovel.
Never one to give up in the face of a challenge, I persevered in my misconstrual. Like the great sparring partner that she is, my newly-beloved followed my lead — and challenged me to up the level of my own game, in the process.
Me: Dark deeds indeed…
Her: … machete, machete, sulfuric acid…
Me: I like the way you machete.
Facebook (feeling left out, perhaps?) chose this moment to intervene. Shortly thereafter, our conversation totally jumped the shark.
Me: I feel compelled to point out that Facebook keeps offering to translate your initial “Hoe, hoe, hoe, machete, hoe” as: “How, how, how, machete, how.” Yes — how, machete?? HOW??!
Her: We don’t talk about that.
Me: No. Some pains are too great. They live best in silence.
Her: Machetes exist in the now. [pause] I don’t even know what I’m saying anymore.
Me: Me neither! But I think I NEED “Machetes exist in the now” on a t-shirt.
Her: This happens a lot in our conversations.
Me: T-shirts, you mean? Or confusion?
Her: Both. And dick ribbons.
Me: YESSSSSS!!! DICK RIBBONS FOR EVERYONE!
[A long pause ensues.]
Me: Now I want “Machetes exist in the now” printed on my dick ribbon.
Her: Million dollar idea? I THINK SO.
At this point, the joke having played itself out to a mutually satisfying conclusion, we returned to our regularly scheduled programming of dissing mansplainers and lusting after every Mallory Ortberg article published on The Toast ever.
In the mail.
Oh my friend.
If ever you speed-dial me, I will arrive bearing both my own machete and my own shovel.
I will bring sulphuric acid for you.
I will almost forgive you for making me aware that these are a thing that exists in the world! (Not quite entirely — but I promise to come very VERY close.)
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: You’re amazing, smart, and strong.
# # #
^I am surely not the only one who sees in this confrontational beginning certain shades of René Girard’s theory of the literary love triangle as a form of homosocial male bonding masquerading as antagonistic rivalry, as renegotiated by Eve Sedgewick into a correlated lesbian-slash-feminist loyalty qua desire, à la Adrienne Rich’s lesbian continuum, am I? I thought not.
[Quick shout-out to all the folks who participated in my Virtual Birthday Party this week: YOU ARE AMAZING, AND I WANT TO MARRY YOU ALL. In lieu of that, for reasons of practicality, I will restrain myself to simply writing you all back. It may take a while — so just know, even if you haven’t gotten a response from me yet, you have my undying love and thanks already! FOR–(like, totally!)–EVER.]