Before I start, a caveat: no, you can’t make me happy, no, you can’t do anything right. It’s 2020 and pretty much everything sucks, and the good things are so comparatively small, it takes supreme acts of will to appreciate them.
You: How are things?
Jane: Things are ok.
You: I’m glad things are ok!
Wait, wait, wait, WTF? Where did that exclamation mark, that enthusiasm come from? Things are—ok. Not Ok!
Never mind. Let’s just talk in GIFs and memes, and misinterpret those instead.
I love texting / I hate texting and because right now texting is the dominant mode of communication between me and the world—I really hate texting and I guess I could pick up the phone and call you, but I’ve forgotten how to do that. Also, tbh, I don’t really want to fix my problems. I just want to complain about them.
You: Are you sure things are ok?
Jane: Yeah, they’re fine.
You: I’m glad things are fine!
Oh, for fuck’s sake. Maybe we just shouldn’t talk.
Things are ok. Fine. No exclamation mark, please, no excessive enthusiasm or toxic positivity, ok? It’s 2020 and breathing is hard—especially if you’re a Black American—what, did you think I was going to make it about masks? Come on, honey. Choose a better hill to die on.
Things are hard, but ok, ok but hard, ok and hard. That can be a thing, right. This and that.
Ok and hard.
You: I’m afraid to say anything.
Jane: I know. Just, like… don’t use exclamation marks or thumbs up emojis when you text me, ok?
Now you’re mocking me. Why would you do that?
You cannot make me happy and I cannot make you happy, because it’s 2020 and even when things are ok, they’re definitely not ok! and they’re hard. But we can NOT make things worse, for each other, personally, anyway, right
You: Wait, I figured this out!
Jane: It’s not that hard. Just drop the damned exclamation marks and send hugs.
You: No, no, I got this. Let me try again.
Fine. Why not? Ok and hard, and I can deal with your attempt to deal with negativity—or neutrality—by drowning me in enthusiasm and positivity, because I love you, and… Fine. Ok. You may try again.
You: How are things?
Jane: They’re ok.
OMG! Yes! I love you! Thank you!