Open Letters to People or Entities Who Are Unlikely to Respond
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An Open Letter
to My Dad Before
BY Vivian Chum
Dear Dad Before You Began Taking Zoloft,
Don’t break that out of frustration and anger. You’ll regret it later, especially when you have to make a special trip to Wal-Mart just to buy a new one. Your Asian-American immigrant sense of thrift will make you regret having smashed that wall clock when you realize how much the price of wall clocks has increased since 1978, when you purchased the perfectly good one you now have in your hands.
You and I both know that in just a few hours Mom will come home from her errands and say, “Oh, what happened to the wall clock?” because nothing ever escapes her notice. And you will respond, sheepishly, “It broke.” Mom will be pissed, because she’s perfectly aware that whenever you say “it broke,” that’s actually code for “I broke it out of frustration and anger.” Mom’s sense of Asian-American immigrant thrift, which is ten times greater than yours (the woman will be reborn as a coupon, I swear), will have her on edge for the rest of the night, even as she pretends that everything is just great.
I know you don’t mean to make the entire family miserable with your moods. It’s called depression, and let’s face it. You have it. Right now, in 1994, you aren’t able to accept this. It’s not something that you have even considered. But in about ten years, you will hit rock bottom. Then, finally, you will take Zoloft.
Not right now, but in the future, it will be so acceptable to take Zoloft that everyone in the country will know (and even kind of enjoy) the Zoloft commercial of an animated ball that goes from frowning to bouncy and happy just like that after taking Zoloft. That will be you. It will be nothing short of a miracle.
Take heart. One day, with a regular, relatively low dose of Zoloft, you will be happy like you once were in those pictures of you and Mom standing arm-in-arm, in short shorts, in front of a forest green Gremlin.
Look, listening to Mom exclaim, day in and day out, “Turn that frown upside down!” is as annoying for me as it is for you. And her decision to buy you the book I’m Okay, You’re Okay was just plain insulting. She bought it for you out of love, but don’t bother reading it. I have. It’s dumb.
Hey—let’s you and me sneak a cigarette behind the house. It’ll calm your nerves. Then, let’s smash up that old clock together anyways and invent a good story for how it broke, and I’ll corroborate your story when Mom comes home instead of hiding upstairs in my room.
Everything will turn out fine, Dad, because one day, there will be Zoloft. You will be happy like you were in 1978, when the cost of wall clocks was not astronomical, and you took Mom out to drive-in movies on Saturday nights in a forest green Gremlin which was, at that point, the most expensive thing you’d ever owned in your whole life.
Really. Just trust me on this one, Dad. You will find your happiness again.
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