i'm just a chris at mcsweeney's

once I submitted an Open Letter to McSweeney's.
it was rejected by a guy named Chris. then, bc I'm so full of misguided confidence,
I decided it was probably rejected bc it was really more of a Short Imagined Monologue,
so I submitted it to THAT department expecting a new guy to be really excited to receive it.
and it was rejected by Chris again - which made me laugh....
he was like, "ummm....I still remember you from yesterday."
and then I wrote this for all of us who love McSweeney's.


I'm not as much as you think I am.
you give me too much credit.
you think I hold the key to your dreams,
but really,
I'm just a Chris.

every week, I read your submissions,
I measure your words
and reject them.
I break a million hearts.
it's not like I want to, I have to,
because remember,
I'm just a Chris.

actually, I like you.  I'm pulling for you.
believe me, I wish you'd write something good.
I want to believe you can do it,
but I can't do it for you, Penny, Pat and Pam,
like I said,
I'm just a Chris.

believe it or not, I used to be like you,
my parents actually named me Topher.
for years, I tried to meta my way into mcsweeney's,
with every short imagined monologue and open letter I could draft.
and like you I was rejected
time and time again
by a guy named Chris.

but finally, one day the sun shone down upon me,
and mcsweeney's welcomed me into the fold.
they published my open letter to an avocado and even hired me as part of the inner circle.
and I was bestowed with the most coveted position as a member of their submissions team.
there was wonderful meeting by the French press celebrating my creativity and originality...
and then they changed my name to Chris.

you see, you can't be a Penny when you handle submissions.
that's why we are all named Chris.
you have to be generic.
people remember a rejection from a Penny or a Pat or a Pam.
it makes them mad.
it makes them hate the institution.
a Penny rejects you and you're up in arms,
"what the hell, Penny?!  what do you know?  you don't know shit, girl!
you think I won't come down there and kill you with a sharpened No.2 pencil?!  I will, Penny!
I will!"

but Chris.
no one remembers a Chris.
a Chris rejects you, you don't feel badly about it.
you sense he didn't want to
you even feel a little sorry you put him in that position.
you want to work harder for him, write better--
his rejection is forgivable,
he's not a mean guy,
just a faceless everyman sitting in an office eating Nabs.
just a Chris.

and you shouldn't hate me either.
remember, I'm on your side.
in a strange cosmic spiritual way,
we're all connected and we're all equal.
we all want the world to be filled with clever words and surprising humor.
I guess in way
you could say...
we're all Chris.

well, I mean all of US --the six of us in this room reading submissions.
I don't mean you.
you're still Penny.
and Pat.
and Pam.

I sent it to Chris.  He said that he cannot publish it, but maybe he'll have a friend read it at his funeral.