‘hi’ sounds so passive-aggressive

By Zarah Butcher-McGunnigle

18 June, 2020


What’s my goal supposed to be. Someone has buck teeth but it’s ok for them because they have an art school fringe and DJ and everyone loves that combination. I’m starved for validation so I’m still focusing on the dopamine boost I got from someone complimenting my pubic hair three days ago. ‘Excessively silky’ was the descriptor. 


I check my horoscope and it says I’m going to have a month of ups and downs. I will go very high up and then very far down. I check the horoscope of someone I no longer speak to. They’re having a productive month. ‘You can’t sit around and do nothing all day,’ my mother says. ‘You should do an online course.’ 
‘On what?’
‘I don’t know, something you’re interested in.’


I’m in the mood to get a hickey right now. I’m worried my shoes are ugly. ‘I was reading an article today,’ my mother says, ‘about a woman who has no arms and legs and she draws amazing pictures using her mouth. She sold the pictures to raise money for charity. Maybe you could organise something like that, you could do a fundraiser.’
‘Yeah maybe,’ I say. I think about how I managed to avoid eye contact with everyone for the three years of undergrad. Maybe if I hadn’t managed that so well, my life would be different and better right now. I send my sister a picture of my shoes. ‘Yeh, you’re right,’ she says, ‘they do make you look like you have something wrong with you.’


The dress I’m wearing smells like mould but it’s somewhat comforting. I have five different online dating profiles. I’m not smiling in any of the photos. Someone said they were surprised when they met me because I actually smile a lot in person. I am happy I have big eyebrows at least. I don’t think I’d have the same personality if I didn’t have my big eyebrows. I keep taking new photos and changing the old photos on my profiles. Each week I change half of the photos like how one changes half the water when cleaning a fish tank. Low bone density and big eyebrows are on trend right now, fortunately.


My mother already owned a house by the time she was my age. My father had three degrees and had been married twice. I feel productive changing a photo on my dating profile. I’m using problem solving skills. I want kids. I’m too bloated to have sex though. I bought an enema kit and bone broth powder. I want my life to begin. I hope no one can tell this is fake leather. I dreamt my depression clothes clogged the washing machine. Water leaked out all over photo albums and game consoles.


I hated going to my doctor’s appointment but at least it got me out of the house. My sister said I should write a list of things I need to do each day and then I should just do them. ‘I can’t believe I didn’t win the contest I didn’t enter,’ I say, holding a tissue full of chewed-up meat. I try to reply to an email. I write ‘hi thanks for your email,’ then I have to lie down for two hours. I guess I’ll have to slap my own face and my own ass. I stay up until 4am trying to write the unimportant, 60 word email. I feel stressed because ‘hi’ sounds so passive-aggressive but ‘hello’ seems too formal. 


My legs hurt but this is nothing new. I am on medication to help them stop hurting but they still hurt sometimes. My ex-boyfriend said he liked how thin I was because I looked weak. Like he could pin me down easily. I needed pills for the pain in my body but I worried they’d make me gain weight, so I waited a long time before taking them.


Before I go to sleep I change my Tinder bio to read: ‘Don’t call looking for casual sex looking for fun, sex isn’t fun’ and someone immediately messages me, ‘what do you mean sex isn’t fun, what is it then? I really feel sorry for you.’


Couldn’t make a decision about a very basic simple thing, so eventually did an online tarot reading to help me decide. Now I’m getting fingered surrounded by stuffed animals. I keep seeing his face as a clown’s face. Did I see him as a clown somewhere before we met. His dick looks like a slug. He brought me food he found in a bin. He’s rich but his household does dumpster diving because it’s fashionable. I start to tell him a funny and detailed anecdote about my childhood. He says, ‘Sorry I was half asleep, I just missed the last thing you said. Also I’m just not that interested in what you’re saying.’
‘Ok,’ I say. 
‘Are you upset? I was just being honest.’ Later his head is resting underneath my chin while I hug him. ‘I kind of feel like a baby lying like this,’ he says. 
I say, ‘My ex used to pretend to be a baby, he would lie with his head in my lap and talk in a baby voice.’
‘Oh ok.’
‘I’m not saying you have to do that, I’m just saying that’s what he used to do.’


I feel productive taking out the empty cracker boxes and some of the dirty dishes in my room. Then I remember this isn’t productive because most people don’t have 10 empty cracker boxes and 20 different mouldy plates in their room. Someone I loved once put their fingers in their ears while I was crying. I’m bored of myself too. I go to an interview for a babysitting job and they start digging a grave for their dying dog while I’m there. ‘Did you help dig?’ my ex-boyfriend asks. ‘I bet you didn’t.’ 
‘Haha no, I didn’t,’ I say, ‘But I have a disability, I wouldn’t have been able to manage it.’
‘I hope one day you’re healthy enough to dig a grave,’ he says. 


I wore big earrings with words written on them and a dress with a big collar to the art opening. I wanted people to look at the earrings and they did, but as soon as they looked at me I was embarrassed. Two people said they liked my earrings and one person said they liked my dress. I began to explain what was written on the earrings but my face was red and I couldn’t look anyone in the eye. In the corner of the room I saw someone I went on a date with last year. He kept trying to get me to come to his house even though he lived on the opposite side of town. Later at the bar he told me his ex-girlfriend burnt all his clothes in a satanic ritual, and that his art practice involved taking naked pictures of himself with an erection as a homage to some Dutch painter. He told me that he didn’t ejaculate though, the erection was just for the picture. 


My ex-boyfriend says he’s made a lot of money this month because he’s been illegally renting out his apartment to a tourist on top of his regular job. I say I can’t do that because I live with other people and my room is too messy. He says there is nothing stopping me from having a clean room and that I’m lazy. I say there are lots of things stopping me, and also I don’t feel motivated by people criticising me. He says he has gently encouraged me to do things in the past but it didn’t work, he needs to be harsher with me. He asks how old my housemates are and I say they are 35 and 45. He says that if someone can’t afford to live alone by the time they are 35, then there is something wrong with them. I say I won’t be able to afford to live alone by 35. ‘Life is expensive, things aren’t how they used to be,’ I say.

‘Why are you talking to me like I’m out of touch with how much it costs to rent these days,’ he says. ‘People need to work out how to be financially stable.’ I say I won’t ever be financially stable because I’m not healthy enough to work full time and he says, ‘I know but you need to think laterally, you need to work around it.’ He asks me how much money I make a month. I tell him a figure and he says, ‘Oh that’s not very much.’ He says he matched with this girl I used to work with on an online dating site, and that she has a foot fetish. ‘You know who I’m talking about? Maryanne? She was always smirking.’ 
‘Yes I know who you mean,’ I say.