Why Do We Publish Our Personal Horror Stories? An Interview with Evelyn Everlady

Negroni Season is often referred to as “the best thing that The Awl has ever published” or “the only thing The Awl has ever published” or “the best thing on the Internet.” And yet… it was written under a pen name! Are you glad you kept your anonymity?

First of all: none of that is true. But sometimes when people are nice enough to say nice things I am tempted to sing it from the rooftops: OH MY GOD, YOU GUYS IT’S MEEEEEE. But then I remember what a horrible and humiliating experience it was and that I don’t particularly come off looking all that great. The events of Negroni Season were just a brief time of my life but Google searches are forever.

So true. That’s a sort of prudence one doesn’t often see online. So, I think it’s fair to say that we didn’t publish a lot more stories together because there were a lot of questions like, “who looks bad in these stories” and also “is it mean and/or sad to tell these stories” and like “is laughing about this stuff in public the same as laughing about it in private,” right? I mean I could laugh about your (and my own!) love life all day but there’s something about offering it up for consumption that makes it less like a good bar story and more like… something else. Is that stuff you thought about?

The short answer is: No. I wasn’t thinking about anything. When I started writing The Worst Boyfriend in the World stories for The Awl, the site was still in beta mode and the company existed in a living room. I don’t think I thought about anyone really reading it and, as usual, I didn’t think about the future beyond the immediate, “Hey do you know what might be funny…”

Also — I think I only realize this now — I was far too poor for therapy and apparently *this* was how I worked through some stuff. As much as I love reading It Happened To Me kind of stories (and I do), I don’t know if I love being a person who tells them. It’s a weird and private thing to share and it’s hard to read people’s comments on your real life. I’m apparently far too sensitive and grudge hold-y to deal with that. (Cough, cough commenter #3,286.)

I’ve been thinking about this and, this may not result in an actual question, but I think the reason I like reading these stories, and stories like them, is that they alleviate any shame I might have had over similar incidents in my life! Like times when I have been mislead by someone and then gone down a path and then I have, in turn, become my Worst Self. And I hope when people read this they get to breathe a sigh of relief and be like, “OH YEAH sometimes people are just crazy and terrible things happen and it’s a surprise to everyone.”

I am always SHOCKED when people say they can relate to what happened in Negroni Season. Like, REALLY? You guys also toxically dated a terribly damaged weirdo and then screamed about Fucking Negronis and then barfed all over your bathroom? ’Cause that IS comforting. But I think the larger point that we’re all idiots when we’re in love — some to a more ludicrous degree than others — is a fair one and I guess I’m glad I’m not the only one who made some really questionable life choices. ALSO WHY ARE YOU PEOPLE INSISTING NEGRONIS ARE GREAT WHEN THEY ARE SO GROSS.

Well this is the other thing, how can the negroni continue to exist and allegedly grow in popularity!

Negronis really are disgusting. I don’t believe anyone who claims to like them. Of course I haven’t actually tasted one since that night TEN YEARS ago but I still shudder whenever I smell them.

You ruined a cocktail forever. Mazel tov!

OR DID I? Cause I see a lot of people currently tweeting that it’s negroni season as in, yay let’s go drink negronis. A) That is madness. B) I should be getting a cut of something from someone.

I think the two things people ask me most are: 1. are YOU okay, and 2. is HE okay — but they care way more about you. But also: he doesn’t even know about this, that we know of, right?

So, amazingly, The Ex-Boyfriend has no idea that Negroni Season exists. I initially used a pen name because I worried about him seeing it and that it would inspire him to track me down and murder me. (Not really, of course, he’s not murder-y. But he IS very private and would hate this more than anything which may have had a hand in me doing it in the first place.) But I needn’t have worried because as it turns out he is neither on Twitter, nor does he read things on the Internet. (He remembers the events that inspired the writing of Negroni Season, certainly, because boy was that was brought up a lot during the rest of our relationship.) And yes, we’re still in touch and no, we are not together (praise be).

I’m certainly happy to hear that!

As for me, I am great! There were certain life lessons learned and I do think that everything worked out the way it was supposed to… eventually.

I feel like there’s so many questions I CAN’T ask.

Like what? Is he still a big old drunk?

I was going to say “Is he still an asshole,” yes.

He….well, that’s a complicated one and it just makes me want to yammer on and on about The Scorpion and The Frog. Is that an answer? Maybe. I should mention that after NegroniGate we did live together mostly very happily for a good number of years and, I promise, he has a lot of good qualities too that I never wrote about. But… let’s leave it with that I’m glad we’re not married.

Do you feel like this particular Worst Boyfriend In The World like… happened to other people? Is he like a hurricane, or one of those whirlpools in Maine that exists forever? I guess I’m wondering how many writers I can get on this topic. HOW MANY LADIES KNOW HANK THE CHOCOLATE LAB, put up your hands.

Haha. Oh, Hank. From what I’ve heard there are probably some other women who came after me who are not entirely thrilled with him. But as far as I know there wasn’t anything quite as dramatic or ridiculous as this. Certainly nothing involving Campari. Oh wait, come to think about it… there HAVE been some really insane stories, but sadly they are not mine to tell. Hank is still alive, by the way. I miss him and wish dogs could email.

Wow yeah, when is Silicon Valley gonna crack that nut, right?

That is a billion dollar something something.

Photo by Quinn Dombrowski.