Published on McSweeney’s again. I’m sorry, but this time I didn’t spend half an hour hand-deleting all the advertisements. They’re not too invasive. This is the sequel to “Do You Like Me? Click Yes or No,” with Bobby a precocious high school senior now. Just to show I can also take on the button-up academic voice.
THE ASSOCIATION FOR THE STUDY OF ROMANTIC LETTERS PRESENTS THE FIRST ANNUAL CONFERENCE ON HOW TO TELL SAMANTHA I REALLY LIKE HER
by JASON EDWARD HARRINGTON
CALL FOR PAPERS
Theme: To Pass Her a Note, or to Digitally Approach Her? That is the Question.
Date: Today after school.
Venue: My house.
Keynote speakers: Whoever can give me decent advice.
The life and times of Samantha first became a subject of romantic studies during Ms. Connor’s third period AP English class, when a smile from Samantha caught critical attention. Thus began a search for previously overlooked encouraging signals produced by Samantha, resulting in a corpus of mentally cataloged gestures now considered canonical.Natasha Marin follows-up her acclaimed Black Imagination with a brilliant new collection of sharply-rendered, breathtaking reflections from more than two dozen Black voices.
I cordially invite all friends and experts in the study of romantic letters to join me after school for the first annual ASRL conference. This year’s theme: Should I just tweet at Samantha like all the other guys, hinting that we should chill one day? Should I ask for her cell number and slowly take it from there with old-fashioned texts (à la my fifth grade Alice debacle)? Or should I take the plunge and give Samantha an actual note made of paper to really let her know that I like her like her?
I can’t mess this one up.
EPISTOLARY PROBLEMS ON TEMPORAL PLANES
ASRL members and other romantic studies professionals are invited to think about persuasive methods by which to make Samantha my girlfriend. This problem has gained prominence since the beginning of the school year, as we are now seniors and will soon be going away to college— Samantha will be lost forever if I don’t make a move.
“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart,” Wordsworth once wrote (as Ms. Connor told us this morning). But how should the performative utterance be considered vis-à-vis Samantha? Should I actually fill a real piece of paper with my heart’s breathings, physically pass it to Samantha, and risk looking like a complete weirdo? Dating praxis suggests that sappy-ass gestures should be avoided in the early stages of relationships, but isn’t Samantha the kind of girl who would consider a handwritten note to be sweet? Since we sit next to each other in AP English, wouldn’t a letter be thematically conducive to jocular Ask Out models? Do I dare go so far as to quote Keats in the letter, or maybe even try to write her a poem myself? Do you think my poem would be shitty and fatally lame? Tell me the truth.
“A brilliant and entirely necessary volume, featuring our best writers and thinkers from Tommy Orange to R.O. Kwon. Every bookshelf should have a volume.”
Will not be available.
Content and Context: Exactly what should I put in the note? Samantha has beautiful eyes, but should I mention that? Would it be better to wait until I’m actually gazing into Samantha’s eyes at some point before I call them beautiful, assuming I ever get to that point?
I’m thinking it would be lame to tell her she has pretty eyes in the note, but fine to do it in-person.
Hesitation in the Samantha Narrative: If the best way to approach the Samantha problem is to allow the narrative to flow conventionally—sans the note—am I then at risk of Dave Pearson moving in and blocking me, since everyone knows he likes her likes her, too?“No one writes like Hopler. And no one ever will.”
The Role of Women in Samantha Studies: Women are awesome, and Samantha is awesome. Dating theory and Mom suggest that I will meet many other awesome women as I grow older and that I should therefore not stress this Samantha thing too hard, since there are likely “other Samanthas” out there for me. But is the conclusion of this theoretical framework really just a total lie meant to dupe me into a lonely death?
FOOD, LODGING, AND OTHER CLAIMS
Will not be covered.
Please submit proposals for engaging these questions, as well as for how best to compose the note in the event that I decide to go that route. All proposals should include:
- A title and an abstract of 450-500 words.
- Author’s name and contact information.
- C.V. with relevant girl experience highlighted.
- A Statement of the Author’s Estimate of how likely it is that Samantha will simply laugh at the note and post a pic of it on Instagram, thereby ruining my entire life.
I look forward to seeing you at today’s conference, and to hearing a wide range of ideas concerning what I should do tomorrow when I see Samantha.“A key barometer of the literary climate.”
—The New York Times
President of the ASRL