I’ve been trying to find this quote by Chris Kraus from Aliens & Anorexia I think, but the quote is nowhere in my notebooks, even though I remember writing it down obsessively. The quote is about a male friend of hers, who gave her a box with the Simone Weil books that would alter her art practice. The quote is about how she and him got along so well because they hated all the same people.
It reminds me of the game that you and I used to play. The game is called: Would You Still Like Me If. This is a good way to pass the time - to see how far our love for each other will go, but also to take pleasure in hating things. Would you still like me if I wore a fedora, a suit vest, and steampunk goggles? Would you still like me if I was canvassing for Joe Biden? Would you still like me if I only wanted to eat at gentrified over-priced restaurants with cursive neon signs in the back that say “Love Yourself”? Would you still like me if I had a fetishization with Disney products? Would you still like me if I made “street art”? Would you still like me if I was rude to customer service people and tipped poorly? Would you still like me if I yelled at my parents?
This game isn’t necessarily about deal-breakers as romantic partners, but more about cringey qualities and how you deal with them. Sometimes, the answer is yes, I would still like you. And I do still like you, despite a lot of things. For example, your strange sleep schedule. When you’re not at your freelance video jobs, you will stay up all night playing video games, watching movies, and editing your films. During the afternoon, you will invite me over. Now that I have a key to your place, I can just walk in. When I do, I go to your room. You are fast asleep, fully clothed, laying across your bed like a log of black sweatshirts and black jeans. But I wait up for you, for about four to five hours. I get some reading done, or watch TV with your roommates. Maybe a cringey quality about me is that I don’t wake you up. I have a fear of bothering people.
Would you still like me if I was a police officer? Would you still like me if I kicked your cat? Would you still like me if I only wore Juicy Couture tracksuits? Would you still like me if I liked sports?
I’ve recently been really upset with you because whenever I call you on the phone, you answer, even if you are preoccupied with something else. So I will begin talking to you about my whole day, and talking to you about how I feel about my parents or something, but you won’t be paying attention. Through the pinprick holes of my phone, I hear you laughing with your roommates. You are on the phone with me, but also hanging out with them. But you can’t do both, you have to choose where to place your attention! You think you can do both. I’ve cried and cried about this issue.
There’s never a question like, would you still like me if my body was damaged in a car wreck? Would you still like me if I had cancer? Would you still like me if I was in poverty? No, these questions are not appropriate. I would still like you if all the bones in your body were constantly breaking. I would still like you if I had to financially support you. I would still like you if you had two months to live.
We used to bond a lot about how much we hated stereotypical millennial men in our midwestern city. You did a great impression of them. HEy man, have you tried the new craft beer? I have this new Americana-folk album on vinyl. HEY do you want to watch some Cardinals baseball and make fun of the Black Lives Matter protestors? HahA! It’s a lot of fun to hate these dudes, and these are people who have actually hurt us. These are people who have yelled at us for crossing into a wealthy neighborhood to protest the non-indictment of murderous cops. These are people who have called you a homo at a bar. These are people who have sexually assaulted me and my friends. These are people who turn the other cheek to wealth disparity and racism in our city. Making fun of them does not solve any of these things. Some of these dudes aren’t even doing anything wrong. They just want to play their acoustic guitars in peace. But it gives us some kind of relief, to hate them, to blame them.
I want to stray from this lazy attitude that some people say and think, regarding haters: Why can’t we all just get along, despite our differences? I want to say back: Because, historically, we have never gotten along. In fact, not getting along is the basis of confrontation, of change.
Lately, when you are bothering me, I just tell you. I don’t wait for you to wake up and open your eyes. I tell you that the way you said something sounded mean, even if you didn’t mean it. Maybe it’s okay if I don’t like you, sometimes. We have a set of values and morals and interests in common, in relation. We both love this midwestern city, even when I’m reading online people and physical books calling it a piece of shit. Maybe our love is a kind of revenge. Would you still like me if we didn’t have a history of memories to gather up, to curate into films and writing, to remember for the comfort of clarity that we have always been ourselves, yet we are always changing? Would you. Would you.