In Conversation With Ali Davis, Who Just Learned She’s Being Followed By Jill Sobule On Twitter

Tim Sniffen
Apr 15, 2019 · 7 min read

Twitter, that great and level playing field. Any given interaction can bring highs, lows, even the news that a personal inspiration is suddenly monitoring your every word. Today, I’m talking with writer and actress Ali Davis (@Ali_Davis), who learned, moments ago, that Jill Sobule is following her.

TS: Ali, thanks for taking the time. Could you bring everyone up to speed on Jill Sobule?

AD: Sure. But first, do you mean “who is she,” or do you mean “who is she to you?” Because if you want to go with ‘versatile, talented, tragically underfamous singer-songwriter,’ FINE, we can do that, but it misses some of the nuance of this situation. Some of the urgency of this followbackening.

Anyway, she sings “I Kissed a Girl” and “Supermodel” and a BUNCH OF OTHER THINGS.

TS: Okay, talk to me about the nuance and the urgency. You sit down to Twitter and see Jill Sobule has followed you. Walk us through it from there.

AD: OK, three things you need to know. One: “I Kissed a Girl” was out when I wanted to kiss a girl REAL BAD and had finally admitted that to myself, but I had not yet kissed an actual girl. So it was a big deal to me. Two: Years later, I was pretty much playing “Cinnamon Park” on repeat while I was going through a different thing that wasn’t related to the lyrics at all, but still, just from the repeat thinking and repeat music, that time is associated with that song for me.

TS: Solid Jill Sobule credentials.

AD: I am not done.

TS: I know.

AD: So, I like Jill Sobule’s music on a normal level, but there are two songs of hers that I associate with big swells of emotion. (Also she’s funny, which adds pressure.) The third thing is… I had already met her at a party.

TS: (gasps.)

AD: I recognized her, and I was going to be super cool about it. So I practiced in my head and when she was free for a moment, I said, “I don’t mean to bother you. I just wanted to say that I really enjoy your music.”

What I had assumed would then happen is I would walk away and do some normal-person party thing, like make a group of people belly-laugh, or juggle fire batons, and she would be unbothered but happy in the knowledge that someone enjoyed her music.

What actually happened is she said “Thank you,” and then, like a normal person with normal social skills, she asked me an innocuous question like you do when you’re starting a conversation at a party.

Tim, I was unprepared for that eventuality.

TS: Oh, dear.

AD: I became the conversational equivalent of the Sesame Street chef who drops all the cakes down the stairs.

TS: So much wasted dessert.

AD: And so much secondhand embarrassment washing over her face.

TS: So we’re dealing with a lot of emotional history, even if Jill Sobule is not aware of most of it.

I’m going to level with you: when you wrote me that Jill Sobule had started following you, I thought you meant Jill Soloway, but couldn’t reconcile you getting a last name that wrong. Or spelling so badly.

AD: Thank you for ramming that mistake into my head, where my brain is sure to make it when I again meet one or the other in person.

TS: Do you think there’s there a specific tweet that placed you on Jill Sobule’s radar?

AD: A cruel voice in my head says, maybe she followed a bunch of people in one swoop?

TS: Stop it. Jill doesn’t work that way.

AD: Here’s the other thing: “Cinnamon Park” came out several years ago, but I had just hours before started thinking about the song and how great it is. So when I saw the notification, for a second, I thought, “OH MY GOD, I SUMMONED JILL SOBULE.”

I’ll be honest: It felt like an OK use of that new and terrifying power. Like a solid B plus.

TS: Quick redirect: given the chance to summon anybody…?

AD: Living or dead? Fictional or non-fictional?

TS: The only person who satisfies ALL those conditions…

BOTH: Glenn Close.

Somewhere, miles away, Glenn Close nods and takes a sip of her drink.

AD: Based on the timing, I think it was a tweet about people being more OK with me being bisexual than with me enjoying both smooth and chunky peanut butter.

TS: — I still don’t know how you’re allowed to think like that and remain a member of polite society.

AD: Let’s not do this here.

TS: So the likely candidate was a tweet about bisexuality and peanut butter, i.e., the bait one would use to catch a mouse-Tila-Tequila hybrid.

AD: Sure. I followed the bi peanut butter tweet with an earnest and swear-filled thread about politics, and THEN I noticed the notification. So I hit send on the thread, realized she had followed me, and thought “Oh. She’ll be gone now.”

TS: She wasn’t.

AD: No, she’s still there. The first deliberate tweet after knowing she’s there… is a tricky choice.

TS: Let’s get a feel for the possibilities. What’s the Ali Davis Twitter menu? Politics, queer stuff, D&D-fantasy stuff, the occasional observation about the lopsided cat-human power hierarchy at home. Am I missing anything?

AD: I also bitch about writing.

TS: You could say the “classic dork cornucopia.”

AD: But should you?

BREAKING: Around noon, a story breaks on tiny bees found living in a woman’s eyes, feeding on her tears. Ali’s feed reveals her first intentional Post-Sobule tweet is a reaction to this story. Our conversation continues.

TS: So, the Eye Bee tweet.

AD: Please respect my privacy during this difficult time.

TS: We need to face the horror you have unleashed. Would you classify this tweet as staying true to your fringe-anthropology roots? Self-sabotage?

AD: Oh, definitely unconscious self-sabotage. Sure, maybe ONE tweet about the woman who had bees living in her eyelids, but did I need the follow-up tweet to clarify that the bees got in there while she was kneeling on a grave?

TS: Oh god. I haven’t returned to your feed.

AD: You and Sobule.

TS: There were… multiple Eye Bee tweets?

AD: Well, isn’t it fascinating as a metaphor? The idea of a being that literally feeds on your grief?

TS: Other than Stephen Miller?

AD: Other than him. It’s worth discussing at length in that forum, right? Shouldn’t I tweet about it real quick?

TS: You have to. Let’s peek into the multiverse: what was almost your first Post-Sobule tweet?

AD: I knew to stay away from thirst tweets of any kind, about anyone.

TS: Hence, Paul Rudd and Robin Wright not getting any birthday greetings.

AD: I was at least as smart as that. But not much smarter. Let’s see, what else was going on. Hoolock, my younger and more rebellious cat, had thrown up and then she pulled some important papers off my desk to cover up the barf by way of tidying, so really, that tweeting timeline wasn’t much better.

TS: Sure, you can return to the Cat Barf well on a quiet day, but not with Sobule watching.

AD: If you really want to know what was going through my head, it was Samuel L. Jackson screaming “Bitch, be cool!” over and over. There’s a timeline where I posted a gif of that and explained it, and one where I didn’t.

TS: From what I’m hearing, the Eye Bees had you against the wall.

AD: Honestly, once I saw the story, there was no other choice.

TS: We may never know Jill Sobule’s reaction. Although, if she does release something in six months with the lyrics: The day you left was the sum of all my fears / Ain’t enough Eye Bees in the world to feed on these tears

AD: …we’ll have our answer.

TS: Ali, you’ve made it through your first Sobule-aware tweet. What’s next?

AD: Based on what has happened when other people I admire follow me, I will studiously ignore her for a few months, occasionally cringing when I realize that I have revealed new shades of goober within me, and then one day I will try to respond to one of her tweets in a pleasant and casual fashion that is actually more like HI HELLO THIS PARTY IS NICE DO YOU LIKE NICE THINGS? And then I will go back to that first mode.

Essentially, Ms. Sobule has bought a ticket for a carousel of secondhand embarrassment.

TS: …and it looks like she just got off.

AD: Oh, no.

Twitter confirms that Jill Sobule is no longer following Ali.

AD: Well, that was fun.

TS: It must be a mistake. Maybe a handler with her password, jealous of the bond forming between you?

AD: It’s fine. This isn’t my first celebrity unfollow, and it won’t be my last. I’ll always have her music, which ishang on.

TS: Everything okay?

AD: Holy shit. My Jill Sobule CDs are… They’re just blank somehow. Even the cover art is disappearing.

TS: What? Don’t you have digital copies?

AD: Hold on, they’re… they’re gone, too. I just tried to repurchase ‘Cinnamon Park’ from the iTunes store and a window came up saying, “I don’t think so.”

TS: Ali, I’m going to offer a silver lining.

AD: Please.

TS: You’re once again free to share every detail of Hoolock’s clandestine barfing.

AD: This interview is over.

NOTE: At the time of this printing, Ali had just been followed by Jill Soloway. Updates to be provided as they occur.

Tim Sniffen

Written by

Writing: Work In Progress on Showtime, The New Yorker, NPR’s Live From Here, Hello From The Magic Tavern, McSweeney’s, Jackbox Games | Twitter @MisterSniffen

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