Evan, 28, Magazine Editor
Never again will you be capable of ordinary human feeling. That is right, Blythe. You won’t be.
You want to know why?
Because, in the early hundreds, as a gesture of good faith, good boyfriendship, or whatever I felt at the time, I was shocked, horrified, borified to find out you had never read the 1948 classic 1984, or experienced Eric Arthur Blair. Trying to come to grips with the fact that the one person I knew who voted left yet had not read the dystopian landmark 1984, I admittedly called this the most complete perfect novel in the English language–my raison d’etre, my motto, my script, my view of life, my FAVORITE BOOK OF ALL TIME!
And you, my girlfriend, had never read it.
So I bought Blythe a copy–a used copy perhaps, but a copy nonetheless–for her to read, for her to “get” where I was coming from when I said that I imagined a world of marching forward in perfect unity, all thinking the same thoughts and shouting the same slogans, perpetually working, fighting, triumphing, persecuting. Let’s share thoughts. Read my favorite book.
This is a story of betrayal.
Soon, as these things go, we were no longer sharing boyfriendship or girlfriendship, and Blythe had moved on with another party member (ie, literature student). Nearly a year later, I saw her in front of a class or at a gathering of college students, I can’t remember. Somehow something about 1984 came up.
So, what did you think? I asked. Did Orwell predict the future or what? Isn’t the Bush Administration the perfect Big Brother?
But . . . silence.
She had no idea what I was talking about.
I stumbled, Oh, you never read it.
Then she said something, something I will never forget because it was said with no interest in my good, but solely in the power she was going to have over me when she admitted her sin.
She said, with no hint of irony, that she had given my gift to her… to…her…new….boyfriend.
As a loan, gift, flirting technique, shit, I don’t know. All I know is I was pissed, demoralized, shocked, hurt, yet sort of humored by the perfection of the offense.
If you want to picture me in that moment, imagine a boot stamping on my face—forever. And yet all my rage that I felt was an abstract, undirected emotion which could be switched from one object to another like the flame of a blowlamp. I didn’t have anything to say, so I pretended it didn’t matter. And to this day, I have wanted to release a statement.
When we start giving away gifts given to us by old significant others to our new significant others, do you begin to see, then, what kind of world we are creating? It is a world of awful backstabbing and no respect for ideas of others. That was my 1984, and if I wanted to share my conviction that we lived in a society where our natural freedoms were being stripped away and that we all were marching in unison singing the same songs looking all the same and that we all were going to live a meaningless life of controlled emotional responses, I only wanted to share that with one person at a time. This was a case where there will be no loyalty, except loyalty towards the Party (the Party in this case being mean people). You know, those people.
Blythe, I want my fucking copy of 1984 back. Or at least read the damn thing.