Untitled Art for Oursler

He was a big fan of silence, except when he wasn’t. He was a big fan of Chipotle too. Over a burrito bowl one day during lunch, Dom talked about Berkeley tee shirts. He had graduated from the school but declared that he would never wear one because he didn’t want to flaunt it.

I think that’s called a humble brag.

He wasn’t only better than everyone else, but he was better than everyone else who was better than everyone else because he didn’t have to show it. Except when he showed it.


Dom always seemed to be declaring, even through his silence, that he was different, and yet he was ending up in exactly the same places.

Dom and my ex Don were one letter, two time zones and all the words apart—Don too insecure and chatty, Dom too cocky and quiet—but each just one story.

Their names alone made me laugh.


The opposite of Don’s neverending game of 21 questions—I’m not sure Dom ever asked me one question. Correction: I remember one text that read: “How’s home?” It was a classic example of setting the bar so low that skipping over it seemed like an Olympic feat.


The other time Dom was quite talkative was when he was talking about how everyone else talks too much. It was sparked by the fact that he refused to answer the most basic questions and I refused to let it slide.

I don’t always mind silence, and I really just wanted the sex, so I didn’t bother telling Dom that I’d had the same conversation with Don at the beginning, the roles reversed, the outcomes so different and yet really, technically the same.

In the beginning, Don was always running his mouth while I theorized that two people were only cool when they could share silence comfortably. And we got there.

Around Dom I was always running my mouth because we were nowhere near that level yet he insisted we start there and stay there anyway—the most forced foreplay.

His rant about talking continued, climaxing with him sneering not at the world at large but directly at me: “Everyone just has to hear what you have to say, huh?”

“Okay,” I replied.

Then I probably laughed.

We didn’t have sex that night.


Dom knew I was a writer. He probably didn’t know that the insignificance of my perspective was something I thought about far too often. But then again, he never asked.

I had nowhere to be but I also had nothing to say, so I left the next morning before he woke up.

His fantasy, I assume.


Later that day he texted me the link to an article sporting the headline “Why We Speak” but I didn’t read it or reply. Then I left San Francisco for a month—the trip during which he texted me to ask how home was. The night I got back to the city, he texted me an emoji.


A few days later we again had Chipotle—or at least that was the intention. I had convinced myself there was a difference between being quiet and being rude, and maybe I shouldn’t sleep with Dom.

Over burrito bowls we talked about writing.

Did I mention that he was a writer too?

I remember his articles about music—his superfluous vocabulary describing and applauding up-and-coming artists. He showcased people making noise, people who thought the world should hear what they had to say, via word choice after word choice that would put a Berkeley tee shirt to shame.

A tee shirt is just a piece of cotton—not necessarily a badge. Someone could wear it because they were a fan or family member, because it was really a piece of nostalgia, even simply because it was on sale.

Words are all we have.


I laughed again.


Perhaps he didn’t mean it, perhaps he was being sarcastic, perhaps he was being intentionally ironic as only the best among us can do, but I realized I indeed preferred it when he didn’t speak.

We still had sex that day after Chipotle. Then I texted him some small talk, I think it was a day later, to which he never replied. I guess that means I got ghosted.

Choices are curses anyway, I thought. And then I laughed.

I would write that we never spoke again, but I think it’s more accurate to say we never really spoke at all.

About the Author: Alyssa Oursler is a freelance writer based in San Francisco. She covers tech, travel, gender and money and has written for Forbes, Business Insider, The Bold Italic, 7×7, Mental Floss and more. Her work also placed second in the 2015 Litquake Writing Contest is forthcoming in Luna Luna Magazine, The Los Angeles Review of Books and others. You can find her at http://www.teainacoffeeshop.com