Right about this time of night, there are two kinds of girls in this town. The good ones asleep in their beds, and the bad ones who are up and looking for trouble. If you’re reading this message, I don’t have to tell you which kind you are. Me, I’m a private dick. Skirts hurl themselves at my undercarriage like rotten tomatoes at a terrible comedian. Rotten tomatoes with really, really swell legs. Well, it must be your lucky night because this dick is one lanky tomato shy of a margherita pizza.
J. D. Salinger
If you really wanna hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is if I’m still living in my parents’ basement, and why I’m bothering you at this hour, and if I’ve gotten any better at sex since the last time, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. Where I want to start telling is the part where I ask if you’re up.
The man lay shivering in his bed with no headboard in the dark and the cold of the night. He had had to part ways with his sheets after the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos incident. He thought of the woman with her woman’s body and wondered whether she would allow him to enter her before the terrible chill he felt in his bones overtook him. He hoped the woman would be compelled by his narrating his own tragic journey in the third person. In the morning he’d rise before first light and search the blasted-out streets for more Hot Cheetos.
I do not text u as if u were my girlfriend, or wife,
Or any person I’d shower with carnations.
I text u, as certain dank girls are to be texted,
In secret, between the PBRs and boat metaphors.
I text u without knowing how, or when, or from where this impulse came.
I text u straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
So I text u because I know no other way
To ask: if u are up.
Edgar Allan Poe
Once upon a midnight stormy, I shall text you, bored
Some lewd emojis (eggplant, peach, and droplets), which I know you
Are you nodding, are you napping? Your derriere, it needs
Soon I shall be gently rapping, rapping at your bedroom
Might I for five minutes thrust, then leave you with
Only this and nothing more.
Would you, could you, come to Queens?
Would you, since you have the means?
I will not call you on the phone.
I’ll only text, so we can bone!
I do not want to date you, ma’am.
My jam is more like “WHAM!” and “BAM!”
E. E. Cummings
u : ? u & m
stars rain sun moon
ME: U up?
(coyly) Will you send me a pic?
(desperately) It’s the normal thing to do.
I’m waiting for you to text back.
(testily) One can bide one’s time.
YOU: [Read at 3:12 a.m.]
(He rummages in the pockets of his cargo shorts, trying to locate the phone. He realizes he is sitting on it.)
(triumphantly) There’s a read receipt.
Are you going to respond?
(After prolonged reflection) What was your name again?
u up? nvm a nubile girl just manifested while i was lost in solipsistic reverie lol
David Foster Wallace
The paradox of the “u up?” text1 is that its nonchalance is belabored. Any writer of the message must go out of his way to override autocorrect,2 meticulously punch in the letter “U,” and un-capitalize it. This “u” boils, simmers, and ultimately reduces the receiver of the text from a sympathetic subject down to a concentrated, syrupy single letter, thereby inoculating the sender from any sense of vulnerability he may have risked in the pinging of his tersely lascivious request (but in so doing, sacrifices all hope of human connection). Even “up?” itself is sufficiently slippery and cannot be pinned down, with implications ranging from the quotidian “awake” to the risque “DTF.” 3 It’s enough to give anyone a case of the howling fantods.4
E. E. Cummings (again)
Wow, I just looked at my phone and saw how incoherent I was last night. I have no idea what I even meant to say. Apologies for the inebriated missive! Anyway, what are you up to now?
1 Defined on Urban Dictionary as “an invitation for a booty call or sexting,” these words have become a universal signifier for the fuckboi.
2 It’s almost as cumbersome as figuring out how to add footnotes to a text message which, yes, I have ingeniously managed to accomplish.
3 Down to Fuck, not to be confused with my initials, though you have to admit that DTF DFW has a certain pseudo-chiasmic parsimony to it.
4 So, u up?