Fool me once, shame on you.

Fool me twice, shame on me.

Fool me three times, there’s a little bit of shame to go around here. Admittedly, maybe I should have caught on to your character by now, but you know, you’re the one doing the fooling. This doesn’t have to be a black-and-white situation.

Fool me four times, I’m big enough to admit that the shame is leaning back towards me. After three times, I really should have been a little more skeptical. You’ve got me there.

Fool me five times, shame is entirely on you again. The only explanation for you fooling me five separate times is that you had some really clever trick that I couldn’t possibly be expected to figure out. Obviously, I don’t know what it was, but it must have been so good, and you should definitely have known better.

Fool me six times, and maybe who gets the shame just isn’t the right framework to think about this anymore. The two of us have a relationship at this point, and it’s clearly dysfunctional. Maybe we should stop trying to figure out who’s to blame and start working on how we can make things better.

Fool me seven times, and you’re not exactly showing me you’re as dedicated to doing the work of improving this relationship as I am.

Fool me eight times and I’ll be like, “Hey, could you maybe stop that?” And then you’ll be like, “Oh, yeah, I’ll stop. I didn’t realize it was bothering you so much.” And I’ll go, “Wait, really?” and you’ll be like “Yeah, totally. Shame on me,” and anyway, that’s a ninth time right there.

Fool me ten times and I’ll be like, “Ohhhhhhhh, you were just fooling me again!” and you’ll be like, “Yeah, obviously. That cannot be a surprise to you at this point.”

Fool me eleven times and you’re probably gonna start wondering if there’s something else going on here. Am I only pretending to be fooled by you? Do I have a secret plan that I’m unfolding underneath your very nose? Are you actually the one being fooled?

Fool me twelve times and, no, it’s definitely not some big plan. I really am getting fooled every time.

Fool me thirteen times, and you start to wonder why you even bother. Are you getting something from continuing to fool me over and over again, or is it just a habit now? Could it maybe be… Love?

Fool me fifteen times and you hope it isn’t love, because it’s getting to be a chore. Has it even been just fifteen times? Or did you lose count?

Fool me sixteen times and you start getting lazy with it. You just say stuff like, “Hey, I’m definitely not about to go to the bathroom,” right before you go to the bathroom. Does that even count? But then I’m like, “HOLY COW, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” and yeah, apparently it does.

Fool me seventeen times and I’m like, “Wait a second…. You’re not trying to fool me, are you?” And for a moment, you think I’ve caught you, and it’s finally over. But then, I’m like, “No, that’s messed up. You wouldn’t do that to me a seventeenth time.” It’s never over.

Fool me eighteen times and something is wrong, with me and maybe also with you. A person shouldn’t be fooled this many times. That’s simply too much shame. This must be destiny. This must be a trap.

Fool me nineteen times, because you can’t escape from it any more than I can. You can’t stop fooling me just as I can’t stop being fooled. You are caught in a web of lies, and you are the one spinning them.

Fool me twenty times and you feel yourself unraveling. This is your Hell. Your shame. I will never release you. I will never see through your lies. And you will never stop lying.

Fool me twenty times.

Fool me twenty-one times.

Fool me.