I Am Kristen Roupenian’s Book Advance, and I Know All Your Essays Are About Me

“Money is an abstract idea” – we’ve all had that idea declaimed into our faces on a cloud of shake-weed smoke at a party, probably by a fellow much like the protagonist in Kristen Roupenian’s viral “Cat Person” story. But I am Kristen’s book advance, and I assure you, I am very, very real.

When “Cat Person” blew up the internet, it sparked a thousand think-pieces about consent, about relationship power dynamics, about #MeToo. At least, that’s what I thought they were about. But I can see now that what all of these pieces were truly about was envy, first of viral fame, and then of the monster that fame birthed, namely: me.

You probably have questions about me. I am, after all, seven-figures big, an unheard-of sum for a relatively unknown writer. What would it be like to have me, you wonder? Is there any hope of my ever being earned out? And now: Should I be shared with Alexis Nowicki, the woman on whom the short story was based?

Let me answer these questions for you now: 1. It would be amazing, are you kidding?? 2. Hahah NOPE and 3. Shrug emoji, plus a rafter of new think-pieces about who truly “owns” a story.

I don’t know who can truly be said to own a story. After all, I’m only an abstract idea meant to facilitate the exchange of goods and services. But I can tell you who owns me, and that’s Kristen Roupenian. Don’t you wish you were her?

Well, to be exact: I am co-owned by Kristen, her agent, and the IRS, who took a significant bite out of me, but that’s a tax story, and all tax stories are dull. Even after everyone got their piece of me, I was still plenty big enough to wrap myself around Kristen in an embrace as ambivalently received as that of an older man in a rabbit-fur hat. Sure, I’m protection from so many things: eviction, hunger, mean calls from student loan people. But I also represent unbearable pressure, the blinding glare of the spotlight, a thousand Twitter mouths yapping, yapping, yapping about whether I am deserved.

Am I deserved? Did Margot deserve to be called a whore? Did Robert deserve to stand in for every awful man anyone has ever known? Did Alexis deserve to have the raw material of her life twisted into a tool used for someone else’s benefit? These are all good questions, but we all know the real questions is: what would you do with me if you had me? The story may have made you feel seen, repulsed, angry, vindicated, but the money – I would have made you feel *alive.*

But look, let’s get real: the story, the money, the questions, it’s all beside the point. We’ve all ignored who the real hero of this story is. I wouldn’t exist, Kristen wouldn’t be rich, you wouldn’t squirm yourself to sleep every night in unbearable agonies of envy but for one thing: That fucking photograph of the lips. I’ll let them write their own story.