You Are My ATM: An Object Lesson

You are for me. Each of you. All of you.

You breathe for me. You are for my sake. You work for me. You accumulate for me. You are income for me. Food for me. Shelter for me. You are my employer, my workplace, my co-worker, my cashier, my janitor. You build me up or you bring me down. You affirm me, protect me, compliment me, bolster me; and if you don’t do those things, then, you teach me everything I don’t want to be. You are my object lesson.  You are everything I need, and when you’re not, it is you that have failed.

If I know you, you are there for me, but even if I haven’t met you yet, you wait for me. If you read this, you are my audience; if not, you are the ignorant masses. If you agree with me, you are on my side; if not, you are my discriminatory attacker. You are a supporting role for me, or you an extra in the wings for me.

You are attractive for me. You are body parts for me. If I play my cards right (and I do know how), you are orgasm for me. You are fertility for me, if I so desire; but I don’t desire, so you are sterile for me. You are my scratching post. You are my outlet. You are my lover. You are equal to me, but only as long as you’re still equally for me. You are you, but only after I am me.

You are my child. You are my choice. You are my joy. You are my inconvenience. You are my success story. You are my career ruiner. You are my exhaustion. You are my future insurance policy. You are my clay, at my table, in my house, under my rules. You are, in every possible, conceive-able sense, for me.

You lie at the front door to clean off my shoes for me. You are a warm, sunny day for me. You are long walks for me. You are private nights for me. You are companion, trusted, and partner for me.

You are a chair. A prop. A cushion. A med. A drug. A fix. A detox center. A vending machine.

You dispense what I require, in the currency of the situation.

The best, and most honest, way to say it is that you are my ATM. You are my omnipresent, ever-faithful ATM, fully loaded and waiting on every corner. I know how to walk a block away to the next you if this you is empty and void. I know your varied codes and can punch them in one-handed while counting the bills from the you one street over.

There is no difference, not practically. It doesn’t matter if I tweak you or ignore you, or both. I can make or mock you. It doesn’t matter if “we” flourish or fail together. It doesn’t matter if “we” make things better and more life-ly through our interchange. There is no “we” with an ATM, no discourse with a dispenser.

You can disagree and argue that this is wrong, unfair, un-even. But, there is nothing you can say–not you or any of the other you–that would convince me, because I don’t converse with cash machines or address objections from objects. Your rebuttals are nothing more than an error message spit out on a receipt, reminding me that I’d been planning on finding a you with a lower fee anyway, something that costs me less. Any maintenance I offer is to ensure that you maintain the outflow. Any upkeep just makes sure you keep up with my lightning-paced needs.

It’s not that I don’t feel affection for you; I do. I am excited for when we meet. I count the minutes until our next exchange. I feel lost and confused and empty when I am not near you. I get butterflies when I round a corner and see you there. Sometimes, I tell myself that you feel the same way, as if you live for the quick play of my fingers on the pad, as if you take as much joy in the on-screen readout as I do. Sometimes, when I’m needing what you have, I even start to believe that we were made for each other, that it’s truly symbiotic. But then I remember that you’re just you–manufactured and ready to provide–and I’m, well, me.

I am aware that this is frustrating, difficult, and painful to read, especially since you were under the impression that the tables were turned.

I’ll tell you what. In order to avoid thinking about it too deeply, and to take any sting off of our next tryst, I’d be happy to call it love. I’m pretty sure that’s what all of you are already calling it anyway.




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