Ladies and gentlemen of the jury,
I am writing from my soundproof cell in order to ask a favor. It’s nothing too presumptuous – I know better than to wheedle you good people for clemency. They will keep me in this hotbox forever, and that’s fine. I had a good run of things, and I embrace my punishment.
But before I make my request, I’d like to express how deeply I will regret having my indiscretions take on the bloat of sensationalism. We’ve all seen enough episodes of Law & Order: SVU to know that the media will seize on the worst of the evidence and make me out to be some kind of pervy Dr. Frankenstein. While that description is actually pretty spot-on, you must understand that I haven’t always been this way.
You see, I can trace my troubles back to 1987, when I bared my young soul in a series of confessional love letters, each mailed with great care to the official fan clubs of ALF and Jeff Goldblum. It took a full summer of breathlessly rushing to meet the mailman at the end of the driveway before I fully understood that there would never be a response.
Until that moment, I honestly believed that anyone could love me. But the ’80s set a lot of us up for failure. Sure, things seemed great on the surface: Reagan was still in power, our parents were making money, school lunches were delicious, and all of the films and cartoons of the day insisted that anything was possible, even for an awkward, unattractive girl with buck teeth and scoliosis.
I did eventually receive a signed photograph from Richard Moll, who played “Bull” on Night Court and was a second-tier crush, but it was too late. The first seedlings of bitterness had broken ground inside me, resulting in my boycott of Earth Girls Are Easy as well as my lifelong sense of schadenfreude at the destruction of ALF’s home planet, Melmac.
This first romantic disappointment kicked off years of rejection by the opposite sex. It was always the same; no matter how promising the gentleman’s introduction or pure my admiration for him, our swan song was inevitably ugly and premature. By college I was a wreck: opinionated, defensive and unkempt. A mouth-breather. A collector of conspiracy theories and Rush memorabilia. I had become strange.
By 2009, I’d had enough. I’d just been dumped by a tiny, church-going hipster whom I’d only met once outside the safety of OkCupid. He’d called things off suddenly, insinuating via text that it was the height difference, and not my heathenism that made him too uncomfortable to continue on. “The meek shall inherit my girth!” I texted back desperately. He was not swayed.
This final insult convinced me to create my own partner before the inefficiency of modern dating led me down a one-way street to spinsterhood.
My first and most sincere draft was a man-shaped blueprint of my own insecurities. I didn’t want him to be so spectacular a paragon that people would question why he was with me. Like the Catholic hipster midget, he was not physically commanding. I gave him a great head of hair, but a borderline weak chin. I made him Jewish, like ALF and Jeff Goldblum, but with a bunch of tattoos and a nervous tic, so you’d get the idea that he was a good boy from a good home, but with a sexy, rebellious streak.
In essence, I designed him to be a 6 who became an 8.5 in conversation. To that effect, I threw in a few fail-safes. When he and I were out together at social gatherings, he would appear well-tailored and attentive. When unchaperoned and in situations where he might fall prey to another woman’s charms, he would wear pleated-front corduroy in an extra wide-wale, and affect a lisp.
We had a truly lovely few months together before I began feeling the stirrings of dissatisfaction. Why didn’t I make him a little taller? Why should I waste my talent designing a mate of only moderate appeal? These pangs of entitlement overlapped whispers that came from a more damaged place: “You had to cheat until someone loved you.” The longer I spent with him, the more insistent the second voice became. I came to resent his permanence as much as his normalcy.
He had to go, but now I had a problem. I had not given him the ability to leave me. In fact, I’d created him to stay forever. And of course, being unable to be abusive or contrary in any way, he could only smile sadly as my fingers tightened around his neck. Gentle people of the jury, I did not enjoy it, but I had no choice. A consequence-free environment is the mortal enemy of contentment.
Drunk with power and heavy with guilt, I tumbled down the rabbit hole and into my Elvis phase: What began with a simpleminded facsimile of ER-era George Clooney quickly snowballed into a succession of all-night orgies. I helped myself to party platters and booze while beefcakes in white cotton panties shimmied in slow motion to a playlist of my choosing, usually 8 or 9 tracks in a row of Rush’s “Young Tom Sawyer.”
As I tired of each iteration, I’d feed him a cocktail of rat poison and chocolate milk and chuck him under the house. The bodies lay there uncovered, but did not decompose. I soon made my newest acquisitions dispose of their predecessors so I would not have to look at the silent, pristine harem piling up in my basement.
My Elvis phase transitioned seamlessly into a raging Caligula phase, and that is where I bottomed out.
Someone had left a copy of a shoddily-realized homage porn at my house after a particularly bacchanalian night of partying. The titular character, Edward Penishands, became my new blueprint.
At my lowest moment, I brought Edward to dinner at my parents’ house. My mother called me later that evening and made it known that she’d had enough. “You are out of control,” she said. “Under no circumstances are you ever to bring anyone with visible genitalia by the house again. Nana is old and shouldn’t have to pass the pepper to something like that.”
“Nana can go to hell!” I slurred into the phone, “Stop resenting my happiness, mom.”
That night, I tossed and turned for hours. I imagined Edward struggling to push spaghetti into his mouth. I saw the tears welling up in my Nana’s eyes as noodles rolled off the turgid flesh extending from his fists.
I woke up in a cold sweat. The need to get out of that house and away from the horrors that filled it drove my limbs to action. After leaving the rat poison out for Edward, I pulled on some sweatpants and made my way toward the front door, wading through the graveyard of empty Southern Comfort bottles and fetid pizza boxes.
I shoved past the Brundlefly version of Jeff Goldblum curled up on the litter-strewn rug and all the hairy little ALFs in varying stages of anatomical correctness. I rushed out the door, hollering at the purity of the night, down to the end of my block, where I was picked up by a patrol cop and escorted back to my home. Of course, gentle jurors, you all know what he found upon opening the door.
Which brings us to the present. If I’m guilty of anything, it’s of wanting what everyone else wants, which is to have sex and feel validated. And now that I’ve made myself plain, and you understand that I have been victimized far more than I‘ve created victims, here is the favor I seek:
The world is a terrible place, but Jeff Goldblum is a great actor. I was wrong to swear off his films just because I could not convince him to love me. I humbly request that one of you send me a copy of Earth Girls Are Easy.
I have a lot of time, and would like to spend it with someone I love.
Illustration by Joe Karg.