“You’re gonna want to set aside the next 20 minutes to read this NY Times Magazine piece about a complicated ‘bad art friend’ relationship involving a woman who donated her kidney and wanted recognition for it, the writer who was inspired by the kidney woman to write a story, and the reality of having your snarky group texts revealed to the world.” — Ben Yakas, Gothamist, 10/5/21
Listen, I don’t know whether you’ve ever been on the waiting list for an organ. It’s not great. When my kidneys shit the bed I knew I was in for a long wait, and let me tell you: dialysis? It’s no walk in the park. So, yeah, I was pretty thrilled when my number came up, courtesy of some broad who went and handed out a kidney just because she thought somebody might need one (I hate to break it to you, lady, but just because you have two doesn’t mean one’s a spare).
What an angel, right? A selfless act like that? Well, come to find out, she’s been yapping all over town about how she gave away one of her kidneys and isn’t she such a saint and whatnot. Okay, look. I’m grateful, I really am, but I didn’t sign up to be anybody’s big step on the stairway to heaven, you know what I’m saying?
And now it turns out that not only did she go bragging all over the internet, but some writer friend of hers wrote a story about a lady who gives away a kidney. Well, not a story about her, exactly, but like using her story, and not even making her out to be all that nice. Lousy thing for a friend to do, but what do I know? I don’t swing in these circles. What I do know is that “internet controversy” was never presented to me as a possible complication from surgery.
My needs, they’re simple. I need a small organ to sit in my retroperitoneal space and filter my blood into urine. That’s it. I don’t need to be tangled up in some petty mishegoss over how a writer makes money, or prestige, or whatever it is those people live on.
Why couldn’t I have gotten a kidney from some nice dead kid? A terrible boating accident, a traumatic head injury—something, as long as the kidney becomes available through an act of God that forces a bereaved and loving family to make a final gesture of kindness and generosity, not through some weirdo theatrical display of nephro-altruism that didn’t get enough likes on Facebook. I don’t know whether kidneys are imbued with the souls of their bodies of origin, but I’m starting to think I might just as well give it back.
And not for nothing, but lately, every time I go to take a piss, I feel things, weird things I’ve never felt before, like a desire to have myself filmed while handing out twenties to homeless guys. Other stuff, too, like thinking about my childhood and how I could weave a dark but ultimately compelling narrative out of it? I don’t even know what those words mean, but it feels real important that I get an agent.
So if this is just the kidney talking, get it out of me. Hook it back into whatsername, call it a consolation prize for having achieved notoriety instead of fame. But truly, what is the diff—UGH, that’s just kidney talk. Take this thing, please. If this is what writers are like, trust me: I’ll take dialysis.