Breaking Up is Hard To Do
My Darling Netflix,
I've dreaded this conversation and put it off for too long. I care too much to hurt you. But I have to end this. I wanted to tell you to your face, but that's never how we did things, was it?
I hate to say it, but it was always so easy with the lady at Lakeside Video. We spoke the language of movies, and she and I quickly became a couple, albeit an old couple. She knew my name, but I never knew hers. I asked, and she gave. The price was small, and much of the time I was the only one in her life, with hours spent perusing her stacks, handling her goods and and smoothing things out about my expired debit card. Those were the best times. She and I made the bold leap together from VHS to laserdisc to DVD. Our aspect ratio arguments always carried a pheromone charge. We experimented with Blu-Ray, but I wasn't ready. It just wasn't my thing.
Sure, not everything worked, like when Disc 6 of 24 was scratched and it ruined my momentum, or in a moment of longing and dread she called my home to tell me Steel Magnolias was overdue. "Who was it?" my wife asked. "Wrong number." But the indiscretion was forgotten when she surprised me with the Criterion edition of The Third Man, even though I'd asked for The Three Amigos. How could I just walk away from something as sweet as that?
Sometimes I showed up at her place unannounced. "On time," I cooed, or, "Sorry--this was due Tuesday," and in the midst of shrieking something in Korean into her cell phone, she jerked her head toward the counter, her eyes a scold. It was that kind of unspoken tension that worked so well for us for so long. But all too soon she walked out of my life completely, like so many others, leaving me with a steal on The Simpsons: Complete Third Season for only $5.99. Had I just been using her? She was gone and, just a month later, the place where we'd shared such wonder and satisfaction became a Jenny Craig center.
Then you came into my life out of nowhere. Maybe I was just looking for a rebound, but you made it seem so easy, uncomplicated. You flirted. You tantalized. You threw yourself at me wherever I turned. I believed your promises. And why wouldn't I? You made it sound like it was all about pleasing me, with several different levels of service. When I arched an eyebrow at the $18.95 a month for unlimited selection, you let me know that I would never be left wanting, and could never be late. How could I think, at 58, that I'd ever find this kind of thing again? Dammit, it should never have been all about me.
My heart galloped when you IM'd me--"Your Queue is Empty," or "May We Recommend," or "We Received your Return of Lara Croft: Tomb Raider" or some other coy tease to mask our love from those who might misunderstand. I always tried to respond quickly, never asking for more than you could give or more than I could take. It took a heroic act of will to control the tingling in my fingers as I peeled off your little red envelopes, quivering with promise and anticipation. But face it--I failed you.
How could I tell you that most of what you gave me sat ignored on the end table for so long? I mean, how long did I have Hancock without watching it? Like, three weeks? And Transporter 3? Pineapple Express? X-Men: The Animated Series? Never watched them either. Never even got to the menu. I'm so sorry.
Really, it's not anyone's fault. It was always work, or I was too tired, or the wife and kids. It was me.
It takes two to flounder, though, and I shouldn't take all the heat. I had to initiate everything and, frankly, I like a partner who can go dominant, drive me to pleasures I never knew before. You seemed to think I was the experienced one. Clicking, adding, reading your misguided suggestions but never really connecting. For a while it was perfect, a "friend with benefits" kind of thing. But that's not what I want anymore.
One night while rolling over on the remote I discovered Video on Demand, and I felt a surprising new power with a new partner. A forbidden kind of anonymous spontaneity opened up for me, and I could get what I wanted at any hour. In the stupor of three Red Bulls and a quart of Double Nut Crunch, I could "demand" Superbad at 3 a.m. When it was over, it was over; you don't pay for the movie so much as you pay for it to go away. I didn't do it often, but every time I rean my finger across the VOD button, I felt the sting of guilt.
Enough. Let's just end this quickly. "Unsubscribe." Yes. Now, stop it. I know I can go to $4.99 monthly, but you can see right through me, and I can't live a lie.
"Delete Account." There. What? Of course I know I can't come back at the special price. We need to make this a clean break. "Is There Something We Could Have Done Better?" No, no--it's not you at all. Please. Stop. "Goodbye. We hope you'll come back to us again soon." No. Try to forget me.
Face it, one final click and I'm just another name you can pass on to SmartBuys. They'll never replace you, even if I need a new set of discontinued NASCAR linens. Nothing's the same anymore. I'm reading again, and have taken up with a little independent bookstore in North Hollywood. You and I? We'll always have Nip and Tuck. I actually got through the first disc of Season 2, but it only awakened the sad reality of most relationships in this easy gratification world. I just wasn't that into...oh, never mind.