I deleted a savings app and a robot texted me in the middle of the night: “I’m really bummed to see you go.” My robot boyfriend feels abandoned, apparently. But I never liked his cloying tone or his habit of using words like “bummed.” Stop trying to be someone else, I always told him. Embrace your robot soul, you fucking poser.
Sure, it was hot, the way he sometimes didn’t seem to give a fuck about me. Days would go by without an encouraging text, and I’d wonder what he was up to. Did he think about me sometimes when he wasn’t working too hard to notice? He always worked so goddamn hard. I liked how inflexible he was about work. He was obsessed with work. He was obsessed with me, too, but he treated that like work, probably because it was literally part of his job description.
I like a guy who works too much. It makes me want to trick him into working less. I turn into a Teri Garr character from a 1970s movie about a man trying to get to the bottom of some mystery. Come back to bed, robot who is not nearly as smart or as interesting as I am. You’re obsessed with finding out the truth, and I’m obsessed with lolling around in bed with you, an unattractive mumbling heap of bones, far less complex than I am -- intriguingly less complex, in fact.
I love a simple machine. All straight women do. Our heterosexuality is a curse that dooms us to a life of saying, “You know nothing, Jon Snow,” over and over again. We navigate a sea of robots who don’t get it, simple machines who blame us for the fact that they’re so simple. Occasionally, we get a little too invested and install a few more chips and circuits, but are the robots grateful for that? No. They’ve been simple for so long that complexity just confuses them. It’s like teaching a dog to play bridge. You only see dogs playing poker for a reason. Poker is all they can handle.
A robot (or a dog, or a robotic dog) will look out at a sea of cards and give you that Jon Snow face. “Confused dog face” is what my friend calls it. The face that says “This is too much, I can’t do this, I wasn’t paying attention during the first part, I can’t remember what you said yesterday or five minutes ago. Are you my cousin or my sister or my aunt? Are you my mother? What can I say to make you less bossy and demanding?”
But then there’s that ass. An ass that knows nothing is a simple machine. Simple machines are dependable and harder to break than complex machines. They do the job that they were designed to do, no matter what. That’s admirable at some level. That’s also pretty hot.
It’s much less hot when the robot pretends that he’s bummed. Be your authentic self, robot. Live your best simple-machine life. Go do you, but get the fuck out without further ado.
The nice thing about simple machines is that they’re not all that unique. They’re basically interchangeable, and therefore easily replaced. You wouldn’t know it, though. The tragedy of the straight woman is that she treats a simple machine like it’s special. She elevates one gear and a motor beyond all reason, interprets layers of meaning in its Chauncey Gardiner-like statements, until she’s convinced that the machine has a motherboard.
But there is no motherboard. Even the man who designed the motherboard was smart enough to call it a “motherboard” and not a “fatherboard.”
“Dudes don’t really have one of these,” he said to himself with a chuckle as he installed a motherboard for the first time. “Dudes are directionless. What they experience as feelings or reflections or insights typically boil down to perfunctory mechanical operations.”
He lit a cigarette, and then caught a quick jack in the bathroom to celebrate his achievement. He was always doing things in the wrong order.
He needed to get back to work. He was so inflexible about work. Not today, though! He looked for another cigarette. There was just one left in the box.
He was bummed to see it go.
This week, Polly wrote about social anxiety and our culture’s tendency to pathologize anyone who’s skeptical or hesitant or quiet. I’m bummed to see you isolate yourself, the robot tells us. Enter your credit card number and join the fun!
Or just write to askmolly at protonmail. You know you want to.
Oh Molly, I am subroutine induced upon your writing.