So, OK, this is difficult. So I’ll just blurt it out.

It’s not you. It’s—

No, what I was going to say is that it’s not you and that it’s also not me. What it is, really, is capitalism.

Right. We have to break up, but it’s not your fault or mine. It’s capitalism.

Yeah, you know, the politico-economic superstructure. The soil from which the brutal jungle of our troubled young century has sprouted. The, if you will, nexus—

Of course, I’m being serious.

Of course, I’m aware that I am employed as a venture capitalist.

Please don’t hit my espresso machine.

Well, yes, it is an astonishingly expensive instrument, but it also holds tremendous sentimental value. We bought it on our trip to Rome, remember? From that guy who kept saying it wasn’t for sale? And I was like, “Wake up, pal, the whole world’s for sale.” And he was like, “But this machine, it has made coffee for the pope.” And I was like, “Well, now I have to have it.” Remember that?

A paradox? That I’m railing against the capitalist order as I cling to this baroque assemblage of grotesquely overpriced consumer goods? Sure. But that’s what capitalism does. It manufactures paradox.

Look, I get it. You’re angry. You should be. Just not, you know, with me. I mean, in a sense, it’s not me who’s breaking up with you. It’s society.

Please don’t remove the protective casing. That’s the part that got blessed by the pope.

Perfect. Now the mechanicals are exposed. Please—

Please don’t touch that. Because it’s the flow-rate valve. It pre-infuses the beans. Please, if I can’t pre-infuse, it won’t matter how rich or nuanced my beans are, it’ll all come out tasting like wet dirt.

Oh, is it? Is wet dirt just mud? Thanks for that important clarification.

You know, here I am, opening up. About myself. About supranational corporate imperialism, and how the profit motive is as powerful as gravity. And what do you do? You mock me. You—

You mock me. You tear out my flow-rate valve.

Right, I’m crazy. Because it’s crazy to take solace in an exquisitely crafted espresso beverage before tramping off to the VC salt mines to get, you know, systematically estranged from my own human essence.

But I can’t quit. I mean, I can. But I won’t.

Because right now, I’m dealing with tons of intensely distressing personal stuff.

Like what personal stuff? Like all this personal stuff about capitalism.

An example? Fine, remember this morning? You came into the kitchen and said, “Good morning,” and I said, “Is it?” Then I just sat there sipping my macchiato and checking my stocks. And you were like, “Everything OK?” And I was like, “Nothing is OK” And you go, “Something wrong with your portfolio?” And I went, “It’s never been more robust.” And then the car service pulled up and I left for work. Remember that? Well, that was because of capitalism.

But it’s all right here, right in our faces. The psychopathic instincts of organized money. The plight of alienated man. Market fundamentalism’s neglect of public transit.

Well, if you can’t see it, maybe it’s because you don’t want to see it.

I’m talking about denial. Distortion. Displacement. Textbook defense mechanisms. Consider, do you really want to destroy this espresso machine? Or has your attempt to do so been, perhaps, the expression of a submerged rage about, say, commodity fetishism?

Perfect. Pound the volumetric pump. That’s my case in point.

Can’t I wait? Wait and what, think it over? No, I can’t. No, I’ve wasted a lifetime waiting. I can’t spare another second. See, at long last, I’ve stepped inside the arena to battle for the fate of my soul. My pulse is jacked. My veins are scalding. Every molecule in my body trembles with this miraculous sense of righteous purpose. Also, my flight leaves in three hours.

I don’t know. Some boutique wellness resort down in Tulum.

Well, no. I mean, who goes alone to Tulum?

Sure, in the parlance of the times, you could say I’ve found someone new. But let’s be careful.

Let’s not fall into the trap of clutching onto whatever scrap of phraseological, you know, flotsam that might happen to bob up to us from the shipwreck of our sociocultural catastrophe. I mean, “Found someone new.” What is that? It reduces to the status of a commodity this, well, this amazingly special person.

Please put down the meat tenderizer.

Look, am I leaving you for someone else? In one sense, yes. In another sense, yes, but I’m doing it as a means of eventuating our mutual emancipation from the pitiless yoke of a decaying social—

Sure, dent the portafilter. Why not?

Please believe me. This is the only way.

The only way for me to liberate my consciousness. To, you know, slowly, over time, transform myself into an unquenchable fire of invincible revolution.

How? Well, my plan is to conquer my addiction to my decadent capitalist lifestyle by becoming, you know, a more decadent capitalist.

Right, like when you catch a kid smoking and you force him to finish the pack. I’ll force myself to keep making tons of money and buying tons of stuff. That’s phase one. What’s phase two? I don’t know. Not yet. But first thing’s first. I’ve got to see how deep this rabbit hole goes.

I don’t know, stuff. Another car. Some light cosmetic surgery. The engagement ring, that certainly wasn’t cheap.

Well, I was going to tell you. I was just building up to it. I thought, wow, so I’m engaged. Big news. Better to not tell you until after we’ve had our talk and said goodbye, and I’ve made it down to Mexico.

Good. Mangle the steam wand.

OK, and now it’s, yeah, OK, wow, and now the machine is totaled.

Guess I’ll just pop over to Milan or to, you know, Tokyo to consult with the world’s foremost espresso experts and select a state-of-the-art replacement. That won’t be a hassle. I’ve got plenty of time for that. Because it’s not as if I’m up to my eyeballs doing monster VC deals and planning an indecently lavish wedding.

No, I am planning an indecently lavish wedding. I mean, we are. I mean, not me and you.

Listen, maybe it’s for the best.

No, I mean that maybe it’s for the best about the espresso machine. I should probably cut back on the coffee. At least, you know, so says my nutritionist.

Of course, I’ll listen. I mean, I do need to start packing.

Fine, maybe I am sort of a jerk. That doesn’t make me wrong.

But it doesn’t make me wrong about everything. All that stuff about capitalism, all that stuff was valid.

Fine, maybe the problem really is me. Maybe I am a bit messed up. By capitalism, sure, but also by, you know, myself.

Honestly, though, who can say? I might also be like this because of neoliberalism.