Well, I’ve always feared this day would come and now it’s here. I finally realize I sincerely enjoy everything I once claimed to do “ironically.”
I started worrying a few months ago during a restless night in my Bushwick loft that I share with 14 roommates. I originally thought living in a tiny New York apartment with as many people as humanly possible was so cliché it would actually make for a witty commentary on like, gentrification or something.
But tonight I started to think: “Hey, maybe you actually live in this loft because it’s cheap. You moved to New York in pursuit of your financially unsound dream of becoming a famous ‘recovered junk muralist.’ And what if these 14 people you live with aren’t just accessories to a ‘good story,’ but your honest-to-god best friends who love and support everything you do? Remember the funeral party they threw to cheer you up after your one-legged cat (so random!), Jonathan Safran Meower, died? Maybe you actually love living right here, right now, with these wonderful, considerate people.”
The sincerity almost made me puke all over the Looney Toons bedding I’ve used since 7th grade. I knew this sincere train of thought was only the harbinger of worse to come.
The next major sign came when I made it home just in time for the start of an episode of The Bachelor and unconsciously sputtered out an earnest “Bazinga!” Things got worse as I watched various bachelorettes visit their hometowns with Chadwick for the first time. I thought of all the people I loved and pondered whether these strangers’ pursuit of love was any less important or serious than my own. Once I realized I wasn’t just enjoying, but empathizing with contestants on The Bachelor, I shut off the TV and recollected my ironic self over a lukewarm Zima.
That night I had a nightmare where I told someone I loved watching The Boss Baby because “while it wasn’t perfect, it offered an enjoyable little respite from the depressing news cycle.” I woke up in a cold sweat, too scared to even close my eyes again.
As I started feeling sincere on a more regular basis, I noticed myself developing weird tics like using the phrase “guilty pleasure” and smoking my vape in front of other people without saying “I love how stupid vape culture is.”
Without my ironic sense of humor and detachment, how will I convey to strangers that I’m a white, liberal college-educated man who didn’t have many close friends in high school? Should I hand out pamphlets with facts about myself to strangers? No, that’d be obnoxious and I’m just now realizing being obnoxious to strangers doesn’t constitute an actual personality.
I’ve started questioning every decision I’ve ever made.
Did I really buy my favorite ALF fanny-pack because it’s an obscure piece of pop culture history or did I subconsciously know how convenient a front pocket is for holding my wallet and phone?
Surely, I haven’t seen Portugal. The Man in concert eight times to just laugh at the people who like listening to their “unbearable” music. Have I genuinely enjoyed “Feet It Still” this whole time?
Did I honestly waste my vote for President by writing in my dad’s name—Joel Mayersohn—as a snarky act of political protest or do I actually think he would make as good a President as he's been a dad?
I just realized I sleep on my Looney Toons sheets as a coping mechanism to deal with my parents’ divorce. Goddammit, that doesn’t make it funny anymore.
The truth—much like emotional honesty, admitting when I’m wrong and making genuine connections—scares me.
I can’t say I’m particularly excited to actually enjoy what I’m doing, watching, listening to, wearing, working on, eating, saying, or participating in, but if that’s how things are from here on out, well then, I guess I’ll take another lukewarm Zima.