I thought of myself as a good person. I volunteered weekly, bought mostly organic, and turned off my ad blocker when websites asked me. Sure, every now and again I’d use incognito browsing to bypass the twenty article limit for the Washington Post, but I wasn’t about to let democracy die in darkness.
So, I expected that the Google Arts and Culture face match feature would simply be an innocent distraction from our category 5 political shitstorm, and perhaps a chance for a flattering, yet ironic insta. Perhaps a painting that highlights my uniquely attractive cheeks, but with a non-serious, self-effacing caption. I could have never imagined how the app would forever upend me.
My first match was 63% with Skull of a Skeleton with Burning Cigarette by Van Gogh. I won’t lie to you: the idea that of all the paintings in history, I most resembled a skinless abomination inhaling a cancer stick was mildly disconcerting to me and I let out a small, anguished yelp. I haven’t touched a cigarette in weeks and the very implication that I would smoke again, even as an ostensibly undead nicotine-addicted skeleton, seemed completely off-base. Additionally, I have beautiful, jolly cheeks and the skull most certainly did not reflect their bounce and vivacity.
I swiped left and to my horror, my eyes were greeted with an even filthier insult. A 51% match with René Magritte’s The Son of Man. For the unfamiliar, the painting depicts Magritte in a drab suit wearing a bowler hat with a massive green apple obscuring most of his face. I cast my phone at the floor in utter disgust.
What about my face shouts, “Granny Smith!” and how do I get it removed??? Perhaps my cheeks, the ones I so dearly cherished as both joyous and charming, when taken together resemble the crisp flesh of a blasé fruit? Or rather, was Google trying to tell me that my face SHOULD be covered had I any sense for the happiness of others?
Perhaps I was slightly over-reacting, and just needed to take another picture, from a better angle. This time, I rotated my face slightly and opened my mouth so my cheeks would seem less apple-like, highlighting their inward slope, and clicked.
I could feel my blood-pressure spike and the cold sweats start. 54% with Picasso’s The Old Guitarist, an emaciated, decrepit crone. I clawed at my apparently gaunt face in desperate abandon and shrieked. Another selfie: 43% — The Scream by Edvard Munch. Did the app hear me? I remembered the news articles about Alexa and began to wonder if this app had listened always, knew me intimately, as only a mother knows her babe, and was reflecting back my truest self.
I stared into that wan, ghost-like face and saw all of my failures concatenate. My lack of exercise. My inability to wash my dishes immediately after eating like my roommates politely suggested. The tragic accident with the walkie talkies and the soup we knew was not for bathing.
My mind began to detach from my body, paddling away in a tiny rowboat with the strength of an Argonaut.
In a last-ditch attempt, I forced an enigmatic smile. Surely the software was toying with me and finally would produce my painted counterpart, The Mona Lisa. So basic it’s ironic, yet so obviously gorgeous and CRUCIAL. I envisioned my FB post, and the Wow reactions flooding in. I took the selfie.
72% — The Persistence of Memory, Salvador Dali. I was truly melting. I knew myself to be Cogsworth, the gorgeous clockboy from Beauty and the Beast. As Cogsworth, I would mark the hours till my innards rusted, like a good clockboy, till I disintegrated and came to stasis just like all things do. Another selfie.
86% — Guernica, Picasso. I saw myself in the squealing horse, the deformed bull, the filament of the eye lightbulb. I was no Spanish revolutionary, only a fractured, self-obsessed coward with terrible cheeks. I needed a final confirmation of my depravity, of my absolute meaninglessness, so I selfied in my most scattered state, collapsed against my stained, multicolored rug.
100% — No. 5 1948, Jackson Pollock. I disassociated completely, floating above my mere shell of a body, slumped on my filthy rug, covered in spilled Top Ramen. Things seemed to make perfect sense and none at all. I saw my goldfish, Carlos, wink at my slack form, executing an eloquent dance that perfectly communicated why regular fish food was better than the organic brand. My mother, riding a hover scooter, explained to me how the Washington Post needs my financial support to keep up award-winning journalism, in turn creating content for Oscar-nominated films.
As I sank back into my figure, I could feel my disembodied fingers save the Pollock photo and share it to Facebook with the caption, “Haha, lol, I’m a MESSSS,” an obvious cry for help, but deep down I knew, as I regained feeling in my toes, that my life was utterly worthless and irredeemable.
I was nothing more than a neoliberal husk with an apple face and a clockboy body.
The Higgs Weldon is an online humor magazine with funny articles, cartoons, and one liners. It was founded in the Los Angeles stand-up comedy community, but takes submissions from everybody. Please read and enjoy our jokes!