What Abortions Should Be Like: Melon, Maya Angelou, Swan Boats and Nothing Louder Than a Whisper

At the Toast, Mallory Ortberg’s “What Abortions Should Be Like” is perfect. It begins with an invocation of Pilgrim’s Progress and ends, equally sad and funny, incredibly subtle despite the presence of Robyn and swan boats, like this:

So Maya Angelou waves goodbye to you, and so does the man who exists in a continuous state of Jeff Goldblum possibility. And B.D. Wong waves Time Out at you, and tiny Robyn waves too. Billy Joel leaps up and hugs you in an embrace that lifts you off your feet. Later, you find that he’s snuck an extra sandwich and another three slices of melon in your purse.

And then the sun starts to go down, and you walk down to the dock, and you realize that no one has spoken louder than a whisper to you the entire day. And there’s a boat waiting for you.

Maybe you think swan boats are entirely too precious (I do too). Let’s say just an ordinary boat, then. But it could be a swan boat, if you wanted it to be. If you change your mind about needing one. How often in your life do you get the chance to ride a giant swan boat? Anyhow, you step onto it.

And if it’s empty, it’s perfectly empty, and wonderfully still, and you lean your head against the mast a little, and you close your eyes, and you breathe in the sunset as the boat takes you home.

And if it isn’t empty, you recognize the form already standing in the boat long before you reach the edge of the water. And it’s a face you’ve been longing to see for a very long time, and that face breaks into that old and long-loved grin in the way it always used to, and you don’t say anything at first, when the two of you come face to face. And you go home too.

Anyhow, that’s what I think abortions should be like.