“Two Hundred You,” by Alex Koplow

Apr 20th, 2011 | By | Category: Prose

Things You Should Hate: You should hate the name Jen. You should hate that you’ve said it so many, many times. You will decide that her name looks ugly and foreign, like a Swedish abbreviation for January.

Girls You Should Have Sex With: You should have sex with the exact opposite of Jen. You should have sex with a girl who looks exactly like her. You are not going to have sex for what feels like a thousand Jens.

The WWWs: You should bring your laptop into bed with you tonight because that’s when you’re most fixated on her cheating on you. You should use the expanse of the internet to distract yourself, but you will spend nearly an hour clicking through photos of her.

You should read your mom’s blog like you’ve been promising. You will be surprised. You expected grocery lists and short phone messages, the only things you’ve ever seen her write, but her posts are beautifully personal. You will sigh at their length and only read the comments the rest of your family has posted.

You will go back to Jen’s photos. You won’t see any pics of the two of you of course, you’ve only been secretly dating all these months. You liked this at the beginning because you thought you’d have fewer responsibilities. You also liked the idea of screwing one of your bosses. You will continue feeling pretty fucking cool for doing that.

Family + Blurred Lines: You will look at photos of Jen’s sister, the one who visited a few weeks ago. You will recall how she even smelled younger, with none of the papery, Windex scents of the office you associate with Jen.

Get to Sleep Tactics: You should consider masturbating to Jen’s sister. You will think, no, that’s just too far. You can assume you are the only person with a conscience left in the world.

You will be bored by the porn you watch. You should start jerking off to the blonde friend of the girl on 16 and Pregnant. You know she’s a slut because of the company she keeps. You will do her from behind. You will make her come. You are unmatched at imaginary sex.

A Strategy of Vulgars: You will come in a sock you wore to work. You should follow your system. You don’t use any that are too identifiable by color or pattern, so you can’t remember doing it into that particular sock. You have heard something about firing squads, how one of the guns has blanks so none of the executioners has to deal with the certainty of killing a man. You have adapted this practice so that you can never be sure that you’re wearing a cummy sock.

The Morning: You will wake up minutes before your alarm, and the pictures of Jen’s sister will still be staring at you. You should close them immediately. You will look at just a few more because she uploaded new ones from spring break in Costa Rica.

Breakfast: You will pour cereal and milk into the clear top of the packaging of blank CDs. You have previously used a Pringles can, a Ziploc bag, and a muffin tin when all the bowls were dirty.

Commute: You will drive to work, and no one really cares what you do in your car.

Partly Related Thoughts: You will tap your grey key card against the censor on your office’s door and remember those soft nose kisses Jen gave you before falling asleep. You should wonder how many other noses she was kissing before bed. You will miss staying over at her great apartment. You will regret putting so much effort into befriending her black doorman.

Numbers Game Number One: You should imagine how many Jens there are in the whole world. You will estimate 200,000. You should add another 100,000 because you’re always lowballing guesses like these. You will say ‘of all the Jen joints, in all the world, she had to walk into yours.’ You will be a little proud of that, and wish there was someone you could tell.

Under Her, Under Her: You should think, if only Jen weren’t my boss, and if only you didn’t need her recommendation for the new job you’re desperate to get. You will assume that Jen says something about your dick when she describes you to the other company. You will think that she might confuse your dick with the dick of your coworker she’s also been sleeping with the whole time.

Three Genie Wishes: You should wish you confronted him at the happy hour last week when he was too tipsy and told you about his secret relationship with her. You should wish that instead of muttering into your beer, you screamed that Jen was only secretly yours, and you knocked him to the floor. You should wish you confessed that you were also screwing Jen, so he could show you how you should react.

A Tree Falling In the Forrest with No One Around Moment: You will wonder, is secretly cheating on a secret relationship even really cheating at all?

Public Secret Rendezvous: You will meet Jen in the copy room two floors down. You need to resist your instinct to kiss her. You should say something very hurtful. You will mumble ‘I guess’ when she asks if you want to go to dinner and discuss everything. You will ride the elevator back to your floor, and she takes the stairs. You need to consider that a victory.

Numbers Game Number Two: You will wonder how many people have been in space, and you’ll guess 100. You should make that 200. You will think maybe two or three were named Jen. You will imagine that space is very dirty.

One More Thing You Should Hate and One Thing You Should Want: You should hate eating Thai and Vietnamese and all those other Chinese food rip offs that Jen loves. You should want to have a new job, so you can stop secretly dating your boss.

Uh-oh: You are going to panic because you’ll realize for the first time that changing your job won’t instantly solve everything. You will still hate Jen. You will still crave her. You will still have been cheated on.

Numbers Game Number Two Answers: You will read on one site that 453 people have been in space, and another will say 517. You will think that’s roughly you and all your Facebook friends going into space. You can include Jen’s sister and her younger tits. You will imagine space sex.

Delusions of Mediocrity: You will believe that every woman at your next job will be attracted to you. You slept with one woman, and now you think that you are the most irresistible man that any office has ever seen. You will really think this.

What You Are, and When: You are amazingly pathetic, sometimes.

How You Should Spend the Time at Home before Dinner: You should play Xbox and drink the weekend’s leftover beer. You will be sent into a frenzy of emotions after three cans. You will relive the perfection of your birthday when Jen woke you up early and said that she wanted to have sex twenty five times. You went crazy when she whispered, “once for every year, and one to groan on.”

Promises You Will Make and Things You Should Do: You will drive to the restaurant with the dizzy, over-contemplative outlook of a beer buzz. You should be completely self-centered at dinner. You should hunt for reasons to hate her in the minutiae of what she wears and the way she eats.

Maybe Things Will Be OK?: You won’t order extra beers just because you know it’s her turn to cover the bill. You should grasp at the tiny satisfaction that she is out to dinner with you and not your coworker. You will see her smile, and you will smile back. You will regret that.

Somedays and Commitments: You should anticipate mornings in the future when you can enter the office and smelling the vacuumed grey carpet won’t get you aroused or suspicious. You will reclaim the tip of your nose from Jen’s light kisses.

Numbers Game Number Three: You will continue thinking a million thoughts at once, and eventually Jen will be what?—only thirty or forty of them.

Alex Koplow is a writer from Virginia. Those are dinosaurs on his suspenders.

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