“Dear Abby, What Should I Do When a Slightly More Obnoxious Version of Myself from a Nearly Identical Universe Finds a Portal Through His Refrigerator into My Universe?” by James Adams Smith

Apr 19th, 2017 | By | Category: Fake Nonfiction, Prose

Dear Abby,

What should I do when a slightly more obnoxious version of myself from a nearly identical universe finds a portal through his refrigerator into my universe, shows up totally unannounced, criticizes my taste in music and literature, and then eats all my chocolate covered pretzels?

Last week I was making lasagna. When I opened the fridge to get some parmesan, the more obnoxious version of myself stepped out. Before I could introduce myself, he informed me that the cheese is his universe is much better. And that I have no idea how to cook, which is probably true, but he said it in this vague, pseudo-European accent. Fine, I told him. You cook. And he did. And it wasn’t any better than my lasagna, but he told me it was better, except instead of just saying ‘better’ he said it Italian: meglio. What an asshole.

We sat in the living room, arms crossed, staring at each other. Do I really look so prissy? Do I really talk with that whiny voice? After a while, he stood up and walked over to my bookshelf.

I see, he said. I see.

What? What do you see?

Our books are almost the same, except I see your bookmark in Gravity’s Rainbow is still in Part 1.

So what?

My bookmark is in Part 2. This book really speaks to me. Would you like me to recite my favorite passages?


But it is a curve each of them feels, unmistakably. It is the parabola. They must have guessed, once or twice—guessed and refused to believe—that everything, always, collectively, had been moving toward that purified shape latent in the sky.

You have to leave, I told him.

I can’t, he said. He took another book from the shelf. Gone Girl. What is this? What is Gone Girl?

It’s a novel.

I think I may have heard of it. I don’t read mysteries. I don’t read science fiction. I don’t read fantasy.

I opened the refrigerator.

Look, I said. Just go back from whence you came.

Actually, you mean go back whence I came. The word whence already implies from, so preceding it with from is actually redundant. And actually, I can’t go back. The portal is sealed. I’m here to stay.

Already, he was thumbing through my albums. Of course you would like Silverchair. Of course you would like Sigur Rós. Of course you would like the Garden State soundtrack.

What’s wrong with the Garden State soundtrack?

He yawned. He checked his watch. He wears a watch. Oh, were you talking?

Look, I said. Say whatever you want. I don’t care.

I turned on Hulu.

Are you going to criticize the shows I watch? Are you going to say that The Office, U.K. is much funnier than The Office, U.S.?

No. I don’t know what any of that means. I don’t own a TV.

At this point, I decided to lock him in my closet. I gave him my copy of Gravity’s Rainbow just so he would shut the fuck up. I’ll read this, he said, and I’ll shut the fuck up, but only if you give me chocolate covered pretzels.

Fine, I said. Here’s your chocolate covered pretzels.

So now the more obnoxious version of myself has been in my closet for the past week, reading that book, memorizing entire passages, eating bag after bag of chocolate covered pretzels. I feel helpless. I’m beginning to question my own taste. I keep having to run to Costco to buy more pretzels. What should I do?


Dear less obnoxious version of you,

There are countless other dimensions, universes, and parallel universes, universes with living dildos who think and speak and work in retail, universes where everyone seems to own a chinchilla, universes where people have formed entire religions with Dear Abby columns as their sacred texts, so it makes perfect sense that there are an infinite number of universes, each of them with increasingly obnoxious versions of you, some of them who claim to have read the first three volumes of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire but only read the first two volumes, some of them who claim to have read all six volumes but only read the first three volumes, some of them who claim to have read all six volumes but really just streamed them on Audible and slept through at least two volumes. The point is you could always be way more obnoxious, so please, go eat some chocolate covered pretzels and get the fuck over yourself.


James Adams Smith attended the MFA program at Bennington College but dropped out after getting attacked by fucking demons. His work has appeared in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency and Coda Quarterly. He lives near the beach in Delaware with a grown-ass man and a foxhound who believes he is actually a northern flying squirrel.

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