"Send me a list of the books you'd like under the tree," John said right before the holiday last year.
I wasn't sure if he wanted me to send him my "All the Books" Amazon Wishlist, which is somewhere along the lines of 347 items long, so I just sent him the most condensed version I thought he would want to handle.
"One Day We'll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter" was on that list, and it was specifically on that list because Samantha Irby blurbed the book and also had posted it somewhere on her Instagram page. And when Samantha Irby likes a book I immediately like it, too, because she's amazing, and no one will ever be able to convince me otherwise. I love her. I love her.
So, anyway, I now am currently watching every Instagram story that Scaachi Koul puts out because that's who I am. I am an Instagram stalker. Obsessed with my favorite writers' daily lives.
But I didn't read straight through her essays - I meandered through each one, taking my time before going to sleep.
Many essays before I finished, I had already decided I wanted to be best friends with Scaachi Koul. Because she made me laugh, of course, but mainly because she is a woman and can understand my being a woman. She writes as fiercely about clothes as she does her culture, and her voice comes through the pages so well that it feels like she's having a conversation with you across your coffee table. Scaachi is a woman and a writer, but she's also the daughter of Indian immigrants. She writes about her own struggles with racism and relationships and her witty, witty, witty parents (who I ADORE and don't even know).
If I had to pick one essay in this collection that reminded me of myself it would be "Size Me Up" for this specific section:
"My favourite purchase was a cocktail dress: it was a simple blood-red shift that came with a layer that slipped on top, a long peplum type that made my waist look small.
[...] I wore it too often, too many places. Paired with irrational brown heels, I wore it to school with my hair done and red lipstick, as if at any moment, someone would rush into my JRN 121 class and say, 'Help, I am a very wealthy lawyer and I need an extremely well-dressed young woman to join me on my yacht for a party that might have some influence in making me partner. Also, I am looking for a wife to politely ignore but who may spend my money freely and maintain multiple affairs with my handsome co-workers. You looked ironed. Are you interested?'"
I sent a multitude of screenshots of "Size Me Up" to my friend, T, because the first time we ever spoke to each other we agreed that hell was being stuck in a dress on Florida's Turnpike in the dead of summer. And I believe Scaachi Koul would completely confirm this since she writes: "If you are a woman reading this, you know this to be true: the possibility of getting stuck in a garment at the store where the employees have to cut you out is the beginning of the end of your life."
Yes. Absolutely yes.
This has not happened to me quite yet, however, there have been multiple moments where this white hot fear has flashed through my mind in a dressing room too bright to be flattering. Nothing is more embarrassing than asking a salesperson to help you out of the garment you are stuck in just to turn to them and say, "I'll take it."
And many of Scaachi's essays are this fun and relatable and humorous, but there is a pretty blatant change in tone that is noticeable the moment you begin to read "A Good Egg".
Her last few essays take a bit of a somber route; they are her best writing.
“But girls don’t get to drink like boys because boys do things to girls when they drink. When I was a teenager, the world told me that a girl is responsible for her own body if she’s raped or assualted when she’s drunk: that’s her fault, it’s on her to not get so drunk she stops being fun and starts being a liability. My parents always told me drinking was risky, that it opened up the recesses of a man’s brain and made him primal and territorial. Of course that’s bad, we were told, but it’s up to you to keep yourself safe. For the first few weeks at the hotel, when I was invited to different parties in different dorm rooms, when older students offered to buy drinks for me, I attended reluctantly, in bulky clothes and with unbrushed hair. I refused to let anyone touch my drink, no one could open a beer for me, no one was allowed to offer me a cup, even an empty one - I’d bring my own. I was learning how to be fun, but the threat loomed: one of the guys here can take it away from you in a heartbeat, and it’ll be your fault.”
I remember my freshman orientation at college imprinted on me the dangers of leaving my drink unattended at a bar or party or house, because it was my duty to take care of myself at a party instead of discussing the repercussions one would face if someone assaulted me.
She continues this idea in "Hunting Season" as she writes about rape culture and how it thrives on the premeditated thoughts and actions some men have before they ever enter a bar.
They are important, these stories, and I am having a hard time not talking about them to everyone around me. I hope you'll read them if you've the chance.