Immediately Post-Break Up, Explained

By Jake Wrenn

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If I were crazy—as in, my action potentials askew, my cranial nerves unnerved, a great
psychic disconnect between thought and reality—I wouldn’t linger at the train stop.
I wouldn’t stare at the sky and flex tinfoil over my head, or laugh fist-clenched at
a joke no one told. I wouldn’t argue the geographic advantages that the allied Germany
and Russia have in the fight against the moon, tell you about my drinking problem, or
wear my pants backward. If I were crazy—as in, the severe and repeated misfiring of
neurotransmitters in my head—I wouldn’t advertise it. I wouldn’t be involved in or be the
target of any national government conspiracy; there would be no men in black suits
watching from the bushes; I wouldn’t contort my face for my strange relationship to
germs or understand the long-winded allegories within words. I wouldn’t own dozens of
cats, or engage you in conversation about the time I spent fighting a non-existent war,
using sticks as automatic weapons or the one damn dirty bomb which blew off the
bottom part of my leg, recounting the severe casualties of fake and safe conflict.
I wouldn’t have dried blood on my jacket. I wouldn’t suck pennies for the coppery
taste or tell you about the sensors on currency which track every movement of the
American people. I wouldn’t have split-ended hair or curse the gods with two holy
hands held upward or smoke my cigarettes filter-first. I wouldn’t act foppish,
boorish, rancorous, or unwise.

———————————————————–No, no. None of that. Not that even one bit.

If I were crazy, as in lacking the normal neuro-receptors, the ticks and tocks of
unlimited brain function, I would be covert in my malfunction. I would be shy
and sit behind you on the el, do my crossword in pen and smell like cologne.
I would be reading the same collection of essays as you and we would discuss lies
and truth, the differences and similarities between the two. I would be charming,
safe. I would speak conversational French, enjoy the guilty pleasure of knitting,
and have dinner with my mother every Sunday. I would be able to talk about the
Bears and Sox, but wouldn’t love them; I would order bottles of wine and aerate
the glass in the dim lights of a restaurant, the waiter waiting: this, if I were crazy.
I would compare various wines and vintages and their years, engaging in whole
discussions of the passage of time. I would offer my jacket and hold your hand;
pay for your CTA ticket and let you lean your head against my shoulder; I would
wake you at our stop. I would live in a three-story walk-up and put on late-era
jazz, mysterious yet accessible. From a window, we would watch Chicago move.
I would allow this magnetism, this new geography. I would pour more wine and
dance if you wanted to dance, and I would tell you about the breakfast place down
the street where we would go in the morning, both get coffee and not drink any
of it, both get waffles and not eat any of it, and I would tell you about my past, my
present, my everything. If I were crazy, I’d let this happen. If I were crazy,
I’d fall in love

Jake Wrenn

Author’s Note:

‘Immediately Post-Break Up, Explained’ is a hypothetical essay which plays with the conventions of traditional nonfiction. In the hybrid between truth and lies, the narrative attempts to explain through experimentation the experience of a break-up.