We Are Never Meeting in Real Life

Hilarious. Heartbreaking. Personal. Brave.  Deeply lonely.  Fearless.  Relatable.  Gross. Vulnerable. Self-deprecating. Comforting. Lonesome. 

I have just finished week two and book two of my 2018 one book a week resolution.   This week I read Samantha Irby’s We Are Never Meeting In Real Life. I finished the book on time, with the exception of the third to last essay titled ‘Feelings Are a Mistake’, which is about the death of Samantha Irby’s feline companion Helen Keller, and which I only read half of-it was at the half-way point that I realized the essay’s final destination and aborted mission immediately.  

You see, I can read any essay or book or watch any movie or show, about the death of a child, about abuse, poverty, or unrequited love, but I refuse to read an esssay about the death of a single woman’s cat. As we say in the therapy business, this is my trigger, meaning, it is the thing that will leave me curled up in a ball and sobbing or comatose on the couch with a jar of Nutella watching re-runs of the office at 2am just to cleanse my emotional palate. This trigger quite obviously includes Okja, movies and books about factory farms and vegetarianism, droopy sentimental crap like Marley and Me, any and of the slew of books ejaculated of late about cats and dogs that travel or live in libraries or are rescued and then end up saving entire families from house fires.  Many of the aforementioned works are ostensibly heart-warming and uplifting, but no can do. 

Needless to say, I was a little wary when I found out that in addition to being a writer, Samantha Irby has worked full-time at a veterinary hospital for 14 years, but I pressed on and I’m glad I did.  Apart from the story about Helen Keller’s demise, this is a collection of essays that is about being an introvert, being lonely, being a writer, growing up poor, trauma, taking the road less travelled, being black, dating men, dating women, disappointment, self-soothing, making a family, being chronically ill, being overweight, disability, chronic depression, and love.  

I was comforted by the book’s candor and by the fact there are other people in the world who think tanning at the beach and eating outdoors is terrible, who love TV and cringe at the thought of screen-free households, who love being alone as much as I do etc. ad nauseam.  Maybe I related to so much of Irby’s diatribes because we are both exactly 36 years, we are both writers, and we have both been basically dysthymic our entire natural born lives.   

This book is self-deprecating to the max.  And this started to make me feel really sad after almost 300 pages.  Reading the book was a lot like listening to stand up comedy, and yet the intimate nature of its contents made it more tragic-comedy than comedy.  I haven’t laughed so much while reading a book (ever?), but it also left me feeling sad.  But feeling sad isn’t a bad thing and it certainly shouldn’t be counted against this book.  

Reading Irby reminded me of reading Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind of Girl and Jenny Lawson’s Furiously Happy.  But funnier.  And sadder.  And raunchier.  Oh man, is it ever raunchy.  It was at times-and I don’t know if I’ve ever said this about anything ever (except that time in 2007 when I watched ‘two girls one cup’ with my grandpa)-almost too raunchy.  Like, if bowel movements or graphic descriptions of bodily emissions and odors is your trigger, you might want to avoid this book.  Actually no, you probably need to read this book more than anyone else.

Overall, a highly enjoyable and humanizing read.  I give this book 4 pugtails in the air!