books, Essays, LGBTQ, People of Color, Reading, Women Writers

“we are never meeting in real life” by samantha irby

“I don’t know, man. I’m just dubious of spending the majority of my awake minutes with someone I show my privates to who also needs to know how much money I am making and is keeping a mental checklist of all the times I forget to drag the recycling to the curb. And also being in a town without real bagels. People are boring and terrible. I am boring and terrible. My funny runs out, my cute runs out, my smart sometimes hiccups, my sexy wakes up with uncontrollable diarrhea. I have an attitude. And a sharp edge! I’m impatient. I like the whole bed. I hate anyone touching and moving my haphazardly arranged possessions all the time. Plus, I’m a downright horrible sharer, and I can’t guarantee that I won’t write my name on something in the refrigerator I don’t want her to eat. These quirks, if I’m being generous, have had thirty-six years to consolidate into one giant mass of ‘mine.’ How do you get over that? Am I going to need hypnosis?!”

I find it totally irresistible not to compare Samantha Irby with any number of IMG_0671writers and comedians. She is like the acerbic love-child of Roxane Gay and Jenny Lawson, with a twist of Lindy West and a splash of Jessica Williams. Yet Samantha Irby is also indisputably her own self, a force of fearless and uncommon wit.

“we are never meeting in real life” is a collection of joyfully angry, wildly sarcastic, painfully funny, and deeply self-deprecating essays. Irby’s writing sizzles and pops, daring you to look away, tempting you to choke back your laughter. Her essays are boldly revealing and yet, be assured, reader, you aren’t getting anything Irby isn’t willing to give. Her revelatory writing does just enough to make you fall in love and want to be her drinking buddy while promising that you “are never meeting in real life.”

Irby writes about growing up in chaotic poverty and frequent neglect:

“I was trying to fill this gaping hole inside me with ‘stuff I couldn’t have when I was a little kid,’ and I assumed that one day, when I had finally bought enough magazines and name-brand snack foods to feel caught up, the feeling would go away. But it hasn’t. And because I know the value of a dollar, when I get one, I want to buy the nicest thing I can with it. I’m still buying hardcover books and department-store mascara, still daydreaming about what I’m going to spend my 401(k) on when I withdraw that shit early, because who are we kidding? I’m not trying to live to sixty-five, are you nuts? Technically, I can afford it. I make good money, and I don’t have any debt, because I’ve never owned shit and I dropped out of college. I pay for everything in cash because I don’t understand APRs, and my credit file was so thin from so many years of living off the grid that when I finally got around to applying for a Discover card, Experian thought I might be dead.”

In a spate of hilarious, heartbreaking anecdotes about the horrors of dating and meeting people in real life, Irby shares the challenges of being a ridiculously engaging person in a body that often makes her seem invisible or, at the very least, unseen.

“[T]here’s just only so long you can keep having the best conversations of your life before you decide to get over your weird fear of bloated ankles and ask that fat bitch you can’t stop rushing home to e-mail to meet you in a bar you know your friends won’t be at so you can make each other laugh in person.”

“So when I finally happened upon this handsome stranger, one who had all the hobbies and interests of the prototypical lovers I breathlessly detailed in my journals, one who took me on dates that he paid for, one who made actual love instead of trying to fuck me in the face, I thought it was kismet. It had to be. So what if he didn’t ever have time to have long philosophical talks with me or fit a quick lunch into his grad school schedule? He told me he loved me and wanted to spend his life with me, and he proved it by never ever calling or using the extra toothbrush I’d carefully arranged in the medicine cabinet in what should have been our bathroom.”

Samantha Irby’s writing is fresh, honest, and sometimes raunchy – all in the best ways. Her collection of essays is unapologetic and unforgettable. “we are never meeting in real life” is wickedly good.

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