“You Belong With Me” by Swift, Taylor from Fearless
MILLER walks out of the kitchen and begins to cross his living room towards the stairs. As he puts his hand on the bannister, you hear a loud ding. He reaches into his pocket and fishes on a phone, touching swiping, etc and then reading the screen. He sighs heavily and rubs his forehead.
MILLER (turns to the audience, agitated)
There’s this, this app. You can, like, send people anonymous messages. I signed up for it to get anonymous feedback on my music, which, of course, failed utterly. But it did allow people to send various messages saying stuff like, “I like your hair,” and “You sounded dumb on that podcast.” Useful shit like that.
And, because the internet is middle school, allows people to play “secret admirer.” That’s this message. “I wish I was her.” That’s what the message says. “I wish I was her.”
Shows phone to the audience as though they can read it.
Can you fucking believe that? I. Wish. I. Was. Her. Damn it. The her in question, my girlfriend Bethany, who you’ll notice is not here, doesn’t even want to be her. But this woman…she does. Splendid. Just wonderful.
MILLER flops on his couch. The agitation drains and he just looks terribly sad.
MILLER (to himself as much as anyone)
This doesn’t help.
Re-notices the audience.
It doesn’t help. Thinking anyone might be interested in you when your current relationship is a barrel fire is its one kind of hell already. To have NO idea who they are is worse. This message, this person, literally is of no help to me. It hints at a world that might exist out there for me if I was single but without a concrete promise.
In my experience, the world is great at showing you there might be another path to happiness out there only to pull it away the moment you decide to find that other path. People love to crush on unavailable people and love to want nothing to do with said people when they are no longer unavailable. I’m generalizing here, but I feel pretty confident that it happens enough to justify the generalization.
So this message? This message is just fucked.
Throws phone to other end of the couch as though it is somehow poisonous.
I don’t want to break up with Bethany. I probably won’t have to. She’s probably gonna dump me. I’ve never been very good at bailing first.
But I don’t want it to be over. I love her. I do. It’s just…off the rails. All these little things and now we’re barely even together. Not just like now, I mean…in every way.
A week ago, we were both home and I tried to, I don’t know, be seductive, I guess? I’m not good at it, but I thought maybe she’d see that I was trying and round me up to mediocre. But she told me she was tired. It was late-ish so, ok, I get it. I was a little sad, but tired is tired.
Then, not 3 minutes later, she has changed and is running out the door going to work to get some work done. Too tired to kiss, but not too tired to go 15 minutes across town and work for over an hour? I mean…Jesus…a little subtlety would’ve made my heart feel slightly less crushed.
Notices he left the kitchen light on and walks back to turn it off.
That’s me being an asshole though, I get that. Sex isn’t everything and she should have the right to say no. Saying “I’m tired,” is how she’s been socialized to say no to avoid upsetting a man and endangering herself. And once you learn that for strangers, the way the brain works, you generalize that to all men. Even the one you’ve been with 18 months. So I should be less stupid. She just wanted to say, “No, I don’t want to kiss you at all” but felt unsafe to do so, so she had to make an excuse.
So I’m still garbage because I don’t make her feel safe enough to break through that societal programming but at least she’s not intentionally being cruel, you know. I need to do those reframes. My therapist says that. They don’t make me feel better because “so unattractive you’d fake being tired rather than say no,” isn’t really worse than, “can’t trust you not to assault her,” but it makes me more empathetic at least.
Flips off light in dining room, returns to living room
I know I’m just counting down to being dumped now. Just waiting for the hammer. I’m making flailing attempts at stopping it. Selling out all my principles, all my righteous stands. “No I won’t go to visit your sister for a week during my busiest time of year, can’t we choose a different month,” has become, “I’ll book tickets tomorrow.” “That piece of art is my favorite painting of all time,” I said to her just 2 months ago. Note the blank spot on my wall. I basically screaming, “Fuck who I am, I’m ready to finally be who you want me to be.” But you know, too little too late.
Too proud and dumb for too long. Too obsessed with winning, with not giving up control, with not recognizing she’s a way better head of household type than me. Too much, “respect me!” not enough holding on to the best thing in my life.
Turns off one lamp in the living room. Picks up the phone. About to put it away when it dings. He looks at it and nods.
She’s not coming over tonight. I kind of knew that already. I mean, she’s not here and it’s late, but it’s nice of her to let me know. The fact that she isn’t coming over—and isn’t inviting me over there—sucks, but at least she let me know.
Stands quietly and types out a reply
MILLER (continuing to stare at phone for a bit then slowly returning attention to the audience as he speaks)
I’m so bad at this.
Not relationships in general. I think I’m good at those. Or as good as anyone can be. But when relationships start to go bad…I’m so bad at changing the trajectory. I try to go cold to protect myself and I make things worse. I try to connect more, to be more vulnerable, and I make things worse. I try to maintain the status quo and, you guessed it, I make things worse. I know there are people who make bad relationships better. I know friends who have gotten pregnant with other people who found a way back! But, somehow, not me.
I screwed up when I asked her to marry me. I don’t know how. I figured, it was 15 months then, I loved her, I think she loved me. The time had come. So I asked. She said no. I moped. I admit it. I moped. Not for a week, but, like two days. And when I got my head out of my ass about it, we were done. So maybe it was the moping, not the proposal? I don’t know. But for 3 months now, we’ve been slowing marching to the grave. And I can’t stop making it worse.
He flashes the audience his phone again.
Hey though, someone out there has a crush on me, I guess. And maybe this will be the one time they don’t stay a secret admirer and do show up when I’m available again. So….bright side?
He shrugs, turns off the second light, begins to head back to the stairs. The phone dings again. He pulls it out, the light brightening his face.
MILLER (hopeful tone to voice)
Wow. Another message. Maybe she is for real.
Pauses to read, head droops, he laughs sarcastically.
The one fucking time…
Returns to audience, holds up phone.
She made a mistake. Wrong account. Likes my music though. Thinks it’d be even better if I changed the mix to favor my vocals a bit more, especially on the new stuff. I’m not the one she meant to send the secret admirer note to though. Just an accident. That’s good. Glad she wrote me again. No false hope. And the music feedback is smart too. So…so that’s cool.
Shuts down phone, the screen going from the white-blue light to red to dark. He is visible in the near dark of the first floor of his house. He places the phone in his pocket again. His head starts to drop but he stops himself. Forces himself to give a half-hearted “oh I don’t care” shrug. Begins to finally walk upstairs, slowly.