A Brief Love Letter to the Fallen Shrew: Get the Hell Up

Isn’t she lovely? Isn’t she horrible?

Photo: Shi Min Teh/Unsplash

There’s always a “big moment.”

Maybe, it happens during a date in your early twenties. You’ll have wandered off to look at an exhibit that may, generously, be called “The Little Sculptor Who Could and Did Not.” At some point, you’ll find your suitor du jour sulking at the gift shop, leafing through a stack of Warhol postcards, furrowing his brow like a distressed Beagle.

Asshat, you’ll think, tapping the soft, pneumatic shoulder of his Patagonia jacket. You’ll silently note how easily it yields to your prodding.

“You okay?” you’ll ask. This, you’ll learn, is a major philanthropic misstep.

Everything is an argument with you. You get so…intense. I don’t see why you can’t be sweet and nice, like, I don’t know, how you just sometimes are.”

Despite all evidence that your former love interest is ill-suited for diatribe or basic dialogue, he’ll go on. Two hours later, you’ll be sobbing into your ravioli, spurned wretch that you are, attributing every failure in your life thus far to the fact that you are an incontrovertible, unrelenting mega-bitch.

The next morning, you’ll delete his number. You’ll never talk to him again. In fact, you’ll never talk to anyone like him again.

That’s an outright lie. You will continue to suffer fools for several years, but you will not sleep with them.

Again, I lie.

Here’s the truth: You, baby, are mad difficult. I’m calling a spade a spade. Perhaps, like me, you’re also an attention-loving, button-poking, sass-mouthing brat. I’m saying this not to bash on for the sheer thrill of it, but because I think you’ve forgotten who you are.

I can write about how we all got here, we lost shrews. I can unpack the years of casual harassment and mockery that can warp an extraordinary, powerful human being into something blighted, aimless, and uprooted. I can grieve the years lost playing second fiddle to one’s own self. I can enter the shame spiral and never come out.

Maybe this is exactly where you are right now. I won’t tell you how or when you need to do your reckoning, but you need to do it, and here’s why:

There will come a point when you can’t keep the ruse going— not with yourself, not with your loved ones, not with strangers at the Starbucks you regularly frequent. It’ll be messy, at first. You’ll start flipping everyone off: cabbies, toddlers with jam-hands, grocery store deli managers. You’ll post twice on Instagram in one day and not apologize for it. You’ll even say neat things like, “You’re lucky to have me,” and people will say, “I know!”

Oh, so we are feeling a little combative, eh? Listen, baby. All that compassion, generosity, empathy, and warmth that makes you a damn good human? It’ll still be there when you get out from under this soul-sucking snooze-fest of an identity crisis. Miraculous, I know.

Yes, baby. There are plenty of fine-enough folks out there who like to stay on what can only be regarded as life’s tutorial level. There is nothing wrong with these people. The world needs its milquetoast millions. They are not for you. They were never for you. I implore you, let them go.

And saddle up, already. We’re all waiting for you.

minx. oakland, ca.

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