‘Exit Survey’, by Lee Tran Lam


Photo by Thomas Anderson. Reproduced under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License


- It was fun and it was fun and it was fun and then it was Groundhog Day. It was a great note, but you can’t really hold the same note forever.

- He was extremely cocky at first – that slick million-dollar Tom Cruise charm that’s basically a little smarmy and gross, but bewitching, too. You know you’re being strong-armed into a sales pitch, one that’s been reworked so often before, but you want to fall for it and delete your cynicism for once. It’s a total trip initially, but you can only turn down the volume on your critical faculties for so long. It’s like going out with a really amazing movie trailer. Spend more time with him and you discover that he’s a jerk in hi-fi and surround sound. Unavoidably IMAX-level annoying.

- I just wanted a socks and TV kind of life. She wanted to boot out of safe mode eventually – score greater adrenalin shocks.

- Jesus, if only you could organise a buyback of regrettable moments. I made so many mistakes. He had an ongoing tally of every one of them.

- She had a vote-splitting personality. Going out was like an exhausting, unending election process; our friendship group underwent one of those ugly faction wars – the kind that are really embarrassing to read about when politicians go through it in the media. Now that she’s gone, it’s really nice just to brainlessly agree on things.

- We didn’t date for long, but her love of thermal underwear was a deal-breaker.

- It was the Baby Talk. One of us was ready for it and the other was not.

- Oh boy, he just had a perplexing way of storing his emotions in some inaccessible black box somewhere – trying to find out what he felt about something was like a terrible minimum-wage job; you’d slave away – undergoing the same territory and enduring the same menial work and thinking, “I hope this gets me somewhere, this better get me somewhere”. He’d be so carefree about inconsequential facts and details about himself; music he liked, places he liked eating. But the important things – it was highly classified Pentagon stuff you’d never have any hope of realising. It shouldn’t have been a surprise when he broke up with me so suddenly – but it hurt in a way that’s very predictable and unfathomable at the same time.

- I went out with someone even-tempered and grown-up and smart. It was the ‘I Am A Good Person’ Test. But I think I failed it; I still crave someone who’s a little nuts and out of control.

- It was this crazy over-moneyed world that he lived in; I don’t know how to talk about it without sounding well, judgmental, I guess? There was this weird unsaid rule where you’re allowed to be as obnoxious as possible as long as you were ‘tasteful’ about it. I’d never met so many designer screw-ups who’ll live a better life than I do, even if they can barely function as human beings.

- Should it matter? I’ll be the sassy and confident and (wrong?) smart alec who says it shouldn’t.

Lee Tran Lam is a writer who has somehow snuck her byline into the Sydney Morning Herald, Rolling Stone and The Big Issue. She presents a show on FBi radio in Sydney, runs The Unbearable Lightness of Being Hungry food blog and podcast, and has been making zines for the last 17 years (at an incredibly slowcoach pace, though). This piece was originally published in The Lifted Brow Digital Vol. 10.2.